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Bad weather hampers flights in Nigeria

Posted MOHAMMED AMIN in Abuja

on  Tuesday, December 12   2017 at  10:48

Several flights have been cancelled in Nigeria for a week, following deteriorating weather conditions.

The cancellations have inconvenienced the huge number of passengers who daily throng the airports.

The routes leading to northern Nigeria have been the most affected.

Hazy mornings

According to sources, more than 120 flights in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Kaduna and Katsina, with more than 17,900, have been cancelled since Thursday.

The bad weather has been characterised by partly sunny and hazy mornings and dust haze conditions in the evenings.

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) confirmed that the bad weather had affected many flights across the country. The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) predicted more dust and hazy conditions that cause poor visibility of two to five kilometres.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) appealed for the understanding of passengers over delays and cancellations of flights due to the adverse weather.

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NCAA spokesman Sam Adurogboye said the agency had earlier issued a Weather Alert Circular to all pilots and airline operators on the impending adverse weather.

The circular forewarned all operators on the danger associated with the dust haze at this time of the year.

“During this period, air-to-ground visibility may be considerably reduced due to dust haze,” the official added.

Limited operations

Meanwhile, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has advised motorists to be cautious due to the change in weather conditions in most parts of the country.

The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has also expressed concern over challenges faced by airlines and passengers in the past few days, due to reduced flight visibility at the airports.

NAMA’s acting Managing Director Emma Anasi said the present weather condition was caused by the dust haze, which had limited operations at most airports.

He, however, said that the primary responsibility of NAMA was to ensure the safety of lives and property.

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NMG boss Joe Muganda to leave in January

Posted BERNARD MWINZI in Nairobi

on  Monday, December 11   2017 at  17:45

Nation Media Group chief executive Joseph Muganda will leave the company at the end of January 2018, the board of directors announced on Monday.

Upon his departure, Mr Muganda will be replaced by the current Group Finance Director, Mr Stephen Gitagama, in an acting capacity as the Board seeks a substantive replacement.

The outgoing CEO joined the company in July 2015 upon the expiry of the term of Mr Linus Gitahi, who was at the helm from November 2006.

NMG’s announcement was immediately followed by a statement from Oil marketer Vivo Energy, which trades in Kenya as Shell, indicating it had appointed Mr Muganda as managing director for its Kenyan operation effective February 1 next year.

Digital disruption

In a short address to staff at Nation Centre in Nairobi on Monday, Mr Muganda said he would be taking up another role after his exit from NMG, and took pride in successfully presiding over a business re-engineering strategy to position the company on a

digital growth path.

His quick wins on the digital front were echoed by NMG Group Chairman Wilfred Kiboro, who said Mr Muganda had “aggressively driven our product portfolio review, presided over a general restructuring and re-oriented the business to seize the opportunities presented by the digital disruption in the media sector”.

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“He will leave a leaner, nimbler organisation whose future commercial success is already evident in the positive trajectory of returns from the investments in digital initiatives,” said Mr Kiboro.

“We wish him well in his future pursuits.”

Mr Kiboro assured all NMG shareholders, stakeholders and the public that corporate leadership changes are normal, and that the transition will be seamless and expeditious.

Regional newspaper

NMG, which is publicly-listed, is the most successful media company in East and Central Africa, and currently boasts the largest digital footprint with visitors reaching more than 30 million monthly.

It publishes the Nation and Taifa Leo newspaper brands in Kenya, The EastAfrican regional newspaper, the Daily Monitor in Uganda, the Mwananchi, The Citizen and Mwanaspoti newspapers in Dar es Salaam and a raft of e-papers and other online content assets.

Also in its stable are NTV in Kenya, and NTV and Spark television stations as well as K-FM and Dembe radios in Uganda. It also owns the Nation FM radio in Kenya.

The company is cross-listed on the Kampala, Dar es Salaam and Kigali securities exchanges.

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Fuel scarcity paralyses activities in Nigeria

Posted MOHAMMED MOMOH in Abuja

on  Thursday, December 7   2017 at  11:47

The scarcity of petrol has paralysed business and commercial activities in Nigeria’s major cities.

The queues that started forming early in the week have become a worse, as motorists sleep at petrol stations hoping to replenish their supplies.

Nigerians woke up Monday to forming queues at petrol stations in Lagos, Abuja, Jos, Port Harcourt, Kano and Kaduna.

The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has promised adequate fuel supply during the Christmas period and beyond, but motorists have not been convinced.

In Abuja, the federal capital, long queues adorned virtually all the petrol stations that opened for business as many others shut their pumps, for lack of supplies.

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A civil servant, Mrs Hannah Mshelia, said: ”I was on my way to work this morning and I saw a little queue at the Conoil opposite NNPC towers.

”I decided to top-up my fuel because you don’t know what may happen later in the day.”

Ms Msheila confirmed that though she had heard of abundant supplies at the depots from the news, she still had to buy ”just in case”.

In the commercial capital Lagos, many commuters had resorted to trekking long distances because of scarcity of commercial vehicle services, due to their inability to access petrol.

In Sokoto metropolis in the north, the queues which started two days ago, became worse on Thursday morning.

Official price

Some of the filling stations belonging to the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) have increased the price of a litre of petrol from $0.4 (N145) to $0.42 (N150).

At the NNPC and other filling stations run by major marketers, the queues were longer, as they maintained the official price of $0.4 per litre.

Some motorists on queue urged the government to act fast to avert a major problem.

“We were happy that fuel scarcity during the yuletide had become history, only for the problem to resurface now,’’ Mr Hakeem Yakubu, said.

“Efforts must be made to curb the problem; especially with the current socio-economic realities in the country,’’ a motorist, Mr Sifawa Ahmad, advised.

Another motorist, Ms Mary Onya, said the situation was a cause for concern and the government must take immediate action.

Panic buying

NNPC spokesperson Ndu Ughamadu advised Abuja residents to stop panic buying and reiterated that there was enough fuel in the nation’s depots.

He said there was no plan whatsoever to increase the prices of petroleum products both at the ex-depot level and pump price.

The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr Maikanti Kacalla Baru, has cut short his trip to London, as concerns increased over fuel queues nationwide.

Dr Baru, who was billed to receive the Forbes Oil & Gas Man of the Year Award 2017 in the British Capital on Tuesday, flew back home to attend to what he described as a “matter of urgent national importance”.

He also appealed to Nigerians to stop panic buying as the corporation was doing everything within its capacity to address the situation.

The Senate also summoned Dr Baru to explain the circumstances leading to the emergence of queues in spite of efforts to revitalise the four refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna.

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The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) had earlier warned that its members would go on strike from December 11.

IPMAN Lagos Chapter on November 29 threatened to withdraw its services over NNPC’s breach of bulk purchase agreement.

The association chairman, Mr Alanamu Balogun, said it was set for a showdown with NNPC over irregular fuel supply at Ejigbo satellite depot.

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Heineken invests $100m in Mozambique brewery

Posted ARNALDO VIEIRA in Luanda

on  Tuesday, December 5   2017 at  12:46

International brewer Heineken Holding has laid the foundation for its first $100 million brewery in Mozambique, local media confirmed.

Online publication Business Report said the brewery in Maputo Province, would have a production capacity of 0.8 million hectolitres.

“The first bottle of beer is expected to come off the production line in the first half of 2019,” Business Report said.

Direct jobs

The investment in Mozambique is expected to create 200 direct jobs and support additional indirect jobs through its entire value chain.

The Amsterdam-based Heineken Holding is the world’s second-largest brewer.

In Africa, it has units in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cote d'Ivoire.

Signs of recovery

Heineken has over 170 beer brands, owns over 125 breweries in more than 70 countries and employs approximately 57,557 people worldwide.

Heineken Mozambique started its activities in 2016 through a sales and marketing office, importing international beers, including Heineken, Amstel, Amstel Lite and Sagres to offer more choice to local consumers.

A World Bank Outlook says the Mozambican economy was showing signs of recovery after a difficult 2016, which saw a sharp slowdown in growth and shocks to both the country’s currency and to inflation.

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Cameroon telecom regulator slams MTN with $6.6m fine

Posted NDI EUGENE NDI in Yaoundé

on  Sunday, December 3   2017 at  12:07

Cameroon has slapped a $6.6 million (FCFA3.6 billion) sanction on South Africa’s telecom giant MTN for failing to respect mobile phone identification procedures and the use of radio frequencies

Johannesburg-based MTN Group, in its market update, confirmed the fine imposed by Cameroon’s Telecommunications Regulatory Board (ART) on its central Africa state branch.

Besides the financial penalty, ART has also reduced to 14 MTN Cameroon’s 15 years operating licence granted in March 2015, according to local media reports.

In a statement on Saturday, MTN Cameroon said it had been notified of the ART sanction and “is in discussions with the regulator regarding the subject”.

The telecom enterprise said it would continue to educate its subscribers on the need to have their phone numbers identified to protect themselves and ensure full compliance with regulations governing the identification of subscribers.

As part of a counter-terrorism drive, the Cameroon government in September 2015, through a prime ministerial decree, obliged mobile telephony operators to identify or disconnect unidentified subscribers not later than June 30, 2016.

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The order also stipulated that no individual would be allowed to own more than three SIM cards from same mobile network operator. Those who needed an exception were to provide concrete justifications for the request.

MTN Cameroon CEO Philisiwe Sibiya said then that the firm was “leaving no stone unturned” to fully comply with the subscriber identification regulations.

“In addition to Service Centres, special identification mega-centres, hotspots, mobile caravans and contact points at the level of partners, MTN Cameroon employees, equipped with specific mobile equipment, shall ply the streets of towns and villages to identify subscribers,” she said.

But it is believed the telco company, which prides itself as market leader in the country with roughly 10 million subscribers, failed to or delayed disconnection of thousands of subscribers who operated unregistered sim-cards within that period.

MTN was slapped with $1.7 billion fine by Nigeria last year for failing to disconnect unidentified sim-cards in that country.

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Summit calls for evacuation of Africans stranded in Libya

Posted AFP

on  Thursday, November 30   2017 at  16:57

A summit gathering European and African leaders from more than 80 countries drew to a close Thursday with plans for the immediate evacuation of some 3,800 African migrants stranded in Libya.

Wrapping up the summit in the Ivorian capital, a top African Union official said there could be as many as 700,000 Africans trapped in Libya, where many have suffered atrocities and even been sold into slavery.

The two-day summit of the African Union (AU) and European Union (EU) was showcased as a project to boost development in Africa as it faces a population crunch.

But it was largely overshadowed by shock TV footage of black Africans sold as slaves in Libya, prompting protests in many countries and demands for action.

In a final address, AU commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat said those stranded in Libya wanted to get out “as swiftly as possible,” warning that there were between “400,000 and 700,000” people there and at least 42 migrant camps.

“We must urgently save those who are in this (dire) situation, and then together, Libya, the EU, AU and UN, we must think about devising longer-term solutions for the migration issue.”

Hosting the summit, Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara agreed there was an urgent need for action.

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“The inhumane treatment of migrants challenges us, requiring responses which match our condemnation,” he said.

He called on humanitarian aid to go hand-in-hand with action to root out human trafficking, and solutions for the poverty that prompted so many young Africans to take the risk of trekking to Europe in search of a better life.

In a meeting late Wednesday, the leaders of Libya, France, Germany, Chad, Niger and four other countries agreed on a plan to allow migrants facing abuse in Libyan detention camps to be evacuated within days or weeks, mostly to their home countries.

They agreed on “an extreme emergency operation to evacuate from Libya those who want to be,” French President Emmanuel Macron said.

“Libya restated its agreement to identify the camps where scenes of barbarism have been identified... President (Fayez) al-Sarraj, has given his agreement for ensuring access,” President Macron said, referring to the embattled head of the unity government in Libya.

They also offered increased support for the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) “to help with the return of the Africans who want it, to their home countries,” said the French leader who called the emergency meeting.

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“This work will be carried out in the next few days, in line with the countries of origin,” he said, adding in some cases they could be given asylum in Europe.

EU sources earlier said UN humanitarian agencies like the IOM had arranged for some 13,000 migrants to return voluntarily to their home countries mainly in sub-Saharan Africa in the last year after a deal with Libya.

The group also decided to work with a task force, involving the sharing of police and intelligence services, to “dismantle the networks and their financing and detain traffickers,” Macron said.

The AU, EU and UN officials also pledged to freeze the assets of identified traffickers while the AU will set up an investigative panel and the UN could take cases before the International Court of Justice, he added.

The uproar over slavery came after US network CNN aired footage from Libya of black Africans being sold.

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Continental agriculture research programme unveiled

Posted CHRISTABEL LIGAMI

on  Monday, November 20   2017 at  18:49

The Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) programme has been launched.

The five-year research programme was launched in Addis Ababa during the Africa Land Policy Conference held on November 14 – 17.

APRA's aim is to analyse prospects for agricultural commercialisation and their differential impacts on empowerment of women and girls, poverty reduction, and food and nutrition security and in sub-Saharan Africa.

The programme will be led by the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC) and funded by the UK Department of International Development (Dfid).

With the Directorate at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), UK, APRA works in Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi and Mozambique.

Food and nutrition

The chair of the APRA International Advisory Group, Ms Janet Edeme, opened the APRA launch, highlighting the African Union’s agenda for agricultural transformation.

In line with the AU’s values, APRA will provide research in identifying pro-poor, gender equitable routes to commercialisation. The research will undertake in-depth studies on the impact of ongoing and emerging of commercialisation in African agriculture.

APRA is investigating five crucial outcome areas of agricultural commercialisations, empowerment of women and girls, employment rates and conditions, food and nutrition security; assets, poverty, income and patterns of inequality.

APRA’s research will spread across three work streams, compromising panel studies-examining people’s choices and outcomes and longitudinal studies –analysing pathways to agriculture commercialisation over long periods and in different settings.

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Joy greets sacking of Africa's richest woman from Angola state firm

Posted ARNALDO VIEIRA in Luanda

on  Thursday, November 16   2017 at  13:10

Civil society groups and individuals in Angola have welcomed the sacking of Ms Isabel dos Santos as head of state-owned oil firm Sonangol.

The eldest daughter of former President José Eduardo dos Santos was Wednesday replaced as the Sonangol board chair.

A decree by President José Eduardo named Mr Carlos Saturnino the new chairman of the state corporation.

“President João Lourenço has restored constitutional legality against an act of nepotism made by José Eduardo dos Santos,” political analyst Fernando Macedo told VOA Radio.

Sovereign fund

"The sacking means the restoration of ethics in governance," said Mr Elias Isaac of the Open Society Organisation in Angola.

Mr Isaac said the dos Santos family had inordinately dominated the Angolan society.

President dos Santos in 2013 also appointed his eldest son, Mr José Filomeno dos Santos, to head the strategic $5 billion Angolan investment sovereign fund, created in October 2012.

Former Prime Minister Marcolino Moco said President Lourenço was cracking down against the scandalous appointments by his predecessor.

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Ms Isabel dos Santos was appointed by her father to chair the Sonangol board of directors in June 2016.

Twelve lawyers challenged the appointment and petitioned the Attorney-General Office to annul it for going against the public probity laws.

“The law says a public agent must not nominate or allow nominations of his wife or his first degree relatives,” the lawyers argued.

Last year, a court summoned President dos Santos and Isabel over the latter's appointment to the public oil company.

Ms Isabel dos Santos's assets in Angola include a 25 per cent stake in Unitel, one of the country’s two mobile phone networks and another 25 per cent stake in Banco Internacional de Credito (BIC).

Foreign currency

Angola is the second-largest producer of crude in Africa and was regularly cited as one of the continent’s fastest growing economies.

However, since the beginning of 2015, the southern African country has faced a serious economic crisis, occasioned by the oil price depression on the international market.

Angola relies on crude exports for two-thirds of tax revenue, and 95 per cent of its foreign currency receipts.

Critics say the billions of oil dollars flowing in had not benefited the ordinary people, and had only succeeded in creating an elite few.

According to the United Nations, the oil sector represents 97 per cent of Angola’s exports and 80 per cent of public revenues and employs one per cent of the population who with less than $2 per day.

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Buhari appeals for dialogue as he presents Nigeria's $28.3b budget



on  Tuesday, November 7   2017 at  19:41

President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed to the militants in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta to embrace dialogue to ensure peace and development.

"We must come together to address our grievances. Threat and violence is not the way out,’’ he said Tuesday.

The Nigerian leader expressed the sentiments when he presented $28.3 billion 2018 fiscal year, recording a 16 per cent increase over that of 2017.

He presented the budget before the joint session of the Senate and the National Assembly, which tasked him to make the budget a job oriented one.

The 2018 budget is predicated on oil benchmark of $45 per barrel, with estimated daily production of 2.3 million barrels, N305 per dollar exchange rate, and 2.3 million barrel per day crude oil production.

Its recurrent expenditure is $7.8 billion and capital $11.4 billion, with the remaining $10 billion to service internal and foreign debts and sundry.

The budget of "consolidation’’, he explained, would focus on economic recovery and growth and hold a future for the country.

The president said the size of the 2018 budget was a reflection of his administration’s determination to consolidate and sustain the nation’s economic growth.

President Buhari said the nation’s external reserve stood at $34 billion, as of September 2017.

He disclosed that a committee headed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo had been inaugurated to check smuggling of food items across the country’s borders.

The Chairman of the National Assembly, Sen Bukola Saraki, said it was commendable that the present administration was making efforts at tackling unemployment.

“Looking around today, we see that many of our undergraduates are apprehensive about their graduation day.

“Our National Youth Corps members are not looking forward to the end of the service year, for fear of being tagged ‘unemployed'," he said.

Sen Saraki said infrastructural development should be seen to be well distributed to create growth pools away from the major cities and drive the regeneration of the rural areas.

“The current rate of rural-to-urban migration is alarming and unsustainable. Congesting the cities and stretching resources to breaking point, while undermining the economic viability of some states.

“People must be able to see a future for themselves in every corner of this country, not just in the big cities," said Sen Saraki .

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Kenya's Safaricom boss takes sick leave

Posted BUSINESS DAILY

on  Monday, October 30   2017 at  19:57

The chief executive of Kenya's telkom giant Bob Collymore has taken medical leave, company chairman Nicholas Ng’ang’a announced Monday.

Mr Ng’ang’a said in the statement that Mr Collymore would receive specialised treatment for a “number of months”.

He did not disclose the nature of Mr Collymore’s sickness.

“On behalf of the board, management and the entire Safaricom community, I wish Bob quick recovery and look forward to him resuming his duties as soon as doctors allow him to do so,” said Mr Ng’ang’a.

Current director

In his absence, current chief financial officer Sateesh Kamath will take a “primary role,” said the company chairman.

“He will be supported by Joseph Ogutu who is the current director – strategy and innovation, Safaricom,” Mr Ng’ang’a said.

Mr Ogutu will be responsible for Safaricom’s day-to-day operations until Mr Collymore’s return from medical leave, Mr Ng’ang’a added