IF THE federal government bans the importation of foreign goods, the Nigerian market has the capacity to produce and sustain the country. This was the position of David Mark, Senate president, at the opening ceremony of the ‘made-in-Aba’, trade fair which opened in Abuja, on Monday, November 18. Mark, who was represented by Smart Adeyemi, chairman, Senate committee on federal capital territory, described Aba, as the catalyst of industrial revolution in Nigeria.
Mark said government should, henceforth, discourage importation of foreign goods because “Nigeria has no business importing those goods which do not measure up to the quality being produced in the country.’’ He commended the people, manufacturers and traders in Aba for doing the nation proud through their spirit of enterprise and innovation demonstrated in quality products and goods made available through local skills.
“We have no business importing military boots when what is produced here locally is more superior to that which is brought into the country. We have no reason to import ballot boxes for INEC. This locally-made ballot box is actually better than the one INEC has been importing. Let us ban all that we can ban to ensure a quick take-off of our industrial sector. The world trade organisation, WTO, should not hold us down in economic slavery.
Mark also called for a radical transformation of Nigeria’s industrial base by providing adequate facilities to support the efforts of indigenous producers to boost economic growth. He urged relevant agencies of government to create adequate awareness on the need for introduction of policies that would enable local initiatives to thrive. “If there is any city that deserves the presence of the Bank of Industry, it is Aba city.”
Enyinnaya Abaribe, a senator representing Abia, who is also the facilitator of the fair, said the fair was his constituency project which is meant to showcase Aba to the world. He added that the fair was aimed at giving opportunity to indigenous producers to showcase their products.
“This fair is to encourage made-in-Nigeria products, but specifically made in Aba goods. We need to be able to create wealth and employment by patronising local producers to reduce crime in the society. If we neglect our domestic goods and continue to patronise foreign ones, there is no way that foreigners will see us as talented,’’
Abaribe also said the reliance on imported goods at the expense of quality goods that were locally produced would not allow the nation’s economy to develop. He said that if given adequate patronage, indigenous producers would help to create employment for the youth and wealth for the country. Other dignitaries present at the event were Olusegun Aganga, minister of industries and investments, Ibrahim Musa, Senate committee on industries and many others.
Battle Against Rural Poverty in Liberia
AN innovative project aimed at reducing rural poverty and household food insecurity was launched on Tuesday, November 19, in Monrovia. The smallholder agricultural productivity enhancement and commercialisation, SAPEC, project is jointly financed by the global agriculture and food security programme GAFSP, and the Africa Development Bank group, AfDB SAPEC project is managed and administered by the AfDB.
The four-day event which was launched by Joseph Boakai, vice-president of the Republic of Liberia, will bring together around 200 participants, including government officials, members of parliament and the senate, representatives from the donor community, agriculture organizations as well as farmers’ associations and beneficiaries from similar projects.
The SAPEC project will increase income for smallholder farmers and rural entrepreneurs particularly women, youths and the physically-challenged, thus empowering the rural communities and setting the scene for a transformation of agriculture from subsistence activities into revenue-generating business.
Geeta Sethi, program manager, global agriculture and food security programme said: “We are excited that GAFSP’s contribution will enable Liberia to rebuild and implement their own food and agricultural strategy, which we believe will have a huge, sustainable impact on the livelihoods of smallholders around the country. This project will help Liberia set an example for other post-conflict countries on how to build a food secure, stable state with a vibrant agricultural sector that contributes to economic growth, increased incomes, and food and nutrition security, and poverty reduction. Congratulations to Liberia.”
Chiji Ojukwu, director, agriculture and agro-industry, AfDB said: “Indeed, the SAPEC addresses Liberia’s fragility following 14 years of civil conflict that devastated the economy, decimated institutions, destroyed infrastructure and triggered massive rural-urban migration.”
He further highlighted that “the project promotes pro-poor growth by investing in smallholder agriculture to reduce food insecurity, and foster equity and inclusiveness by ensuring the participation of women, youths and the physically-challenged in agricultural activities. The SAPEC project thus contributes to the peace- and state-building goals of the country as its transitions from conflict and fragility to recovery and resilience.”
The project is expected to improve the food value chain through market development and access through the rehabilitation of 270 kilometres of all-weather feeder roads. Twelve market centres are also expected to be rehabilitated, nine agribusiness centres constructed and three technology transfer centres refurbished.
The project will also increase the productivity of 4,000 hectares and 1,000 hectares of uplands that will be dedicated respectively to cassava and rice cultivation. The project will also make more land and water available for cropping with the rehabilitation of 1,000 hectares of community-owned lowland.
New Software Solutions for Handsets
GEMALTO, a world leader in digital security, has announced that Inwi, the award-winning, Moroccan mobile telecoms company, is the first to deploy the latest version of its LinqUs Facebook-for-SIM mobile application which now includes the popular Facebook Messenger feature.
With this innovation, Inwi’s 12 million Moroccan subscribers will have the opportunity to enjoy seamless and intuitive mobile access to the world’s leading social network site. In a country where smart phone penetration is put at 16 percent, the solution provides an opportunity for the many users to enjoy Facebook’s services from any type of mobile phone, and without having to incur additional Internet connection charges.
Gemalto’s turnkey social media package offers a gateway to all of Facebook’s core functions and services such as friend requests, status updates, notifications and news feed, via a user-friendly interface on the handset. No data subscription is required and, with the addition of Facebook Messenger, people can now directly chat with their friends or send private messages anytime and anywhere.
Frédéric Debord, chief executive officer at Inwi, said: “Inwi’s business philosophy is to deliver truly innovative services within easy reach to enhance our customers’ experience. With Gemalto’s LinqUs Facebook for SIM application, we can further build on this strategy, bridge the gap for users with all types of mobile phones and respond to Morocco’s growing love affair with social media.”
Thierry Mesnard, senior vice president of telecommunications at Gemalto Africa, said the innovation is deeply embedded in Inwi’s DNA, and reflected not just in the company’s commercial success, but also a string of industry awards. “Gemalto is fully committed to providing services that harness the power of social networking, and helping Inwi realise its bold vision for the future of mobile services in Morocco.”
27.4 Million South Africans Use Banks
SOUTH Africa’s banking population has grown substantially from 23.9 million people in 2012 to 27.4 million people in 2013. According to the 2013 consumer survey, the increase is a reflection of a strong growth in financial inclusion. The survey measures and profiles levels of access to financial services among South Africans aged 16 and older, and highlighted that 75 percent of South Africans patronise banks. Prega Ramsamy , chief executive officer of FinMark Trust, explained that the overall increase in the banking population has been driven by two key factors: the roll out of the South African Social Security Agency ,SASSA MasterCard debit cards, which contributed 1.9 million people to the banked population in 2013, and organic banking growth.
Philip Panaino, division president, MasterCard, South Africa said : “The success of the SASSA Debit MasterCard card roll out is having a significant impact on the South African payments system, on socio-economic development and most importantly on the cardholders who can now manage their finances in a much more dignified, convenient and safe way.” Since March 2012 , 10 million SASSA Debit MasterCard cards have been issued to grant recipients, following the introduction of a new grant disbursement system introduced by SASSA to minimise fraudulent grant applications and collections and reduce grant administration costs by distributing all grant payments electronically.
As part of the SASSA re-registration process, each recipient has a bank account opened for them, which is offered free of monthly charges by Grindrod Bank. Recipients can deposit funds into their bank account via electronic funds transfer, EFT, or third party bank transfer. The SASSA Debit MasterCard card can be used anywhere MasterCard is accepted, and grant recipients can make purchases, check their account balances and withdraw cash at till points without incurring transaction charges at selected South African retailers. Recipients can also withdraw cash at any ATM, which does, however, attract transaction charges.
In its national development plan, the South African government challenged the financial sector to achieve financial inclusion of 70 percent in the country by 2013, with a target of 90 percent set for 2030.
Ramsamy added: “The strides taken to reach the under and unbanked population to increase financial inclusion by both government and the financial services sector have had a substantial impact in 2013, reaching eight percent more South Africans than in 2012, and exceeding the 2013 target of 70 percent set by government. This places South Africa in a strong position to meet its 2030 target. However, access should be accompanied by financial education.” The survey also revealed that 65 percent of banked adults surveyed said that they prefer using bank cards instead of cash to make their purchases.
Panaino also noted that many South Africans have realised the benefits of electronic banking and a cashless society and that is why they are embracing it. “It is our goal to continue to grow financial inclusion both in South Africa and abroad by introducing innovative payment solutions that will help make transactions quicker, safer and more convenient for everyone, everywhere and whenever needed.”
Compiled by Vincent Nzemeke
— Dec. 2, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT