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BoI, LASG move to improve manufacturers’ financial prospects under AfCFTA

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Manufacturers Association of Nigeria

Lagos State Government and Bank of Industry (BoI) have urged manufacturers to embrace the various available financing options, aimed at driving the sector’s competitiveness under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

They gave the charge at the 52nd Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) Apapa Branch, Lagos on Tuesday.

The AGM has the theme: “Financing Nigeria’s Manufacturing Sector for Economic Growth”.

Mr Olukayode Pitan, Managing Director, BoI, said that seamless access to finance was imperative to sustain the manufacturing sector, considering its contribution to the economic diversification drive of the nation.

Pitan, represented by Dr Isa Omagu, General Manager, Large Enterprises, BoI, said the bank was poised to support manufacturers and committed to providing financing solutions to sustainable businesses.

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He urged manufacturers to improve their ability to have access to finance for competitive advantage by keeping their businesses in order, adopting digital solutions to improve processes and avoiding fraudulent business ideas.

He listed some of the lingering problems affecting productivity in the manufacturing sector to include inability to access finance, infrastructural deficiencies, high energy costs and high lending rates, among others.

Pitan noted that accessing finance remained a major challenge facing manufacturers due to poor stock keeping practices, lack of credit history, structure and collateral.

He said the best financing options for Nigeria manufacturers to compete effectively under AfCFTA remained through Development Financial Institutions (DFIs) interventions such as BoI, African Export Import Bank (AFREXIM) among others.

He added that the bank had developed products to provide equipment financing and working capital Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) in target sectors at less than 10 per cent interest rate per annum.

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“Financing is a key consideration for Nigerian manufacturers to ensure business survival and profitability as the sector can play a key role in enabling the country’s industrialisation and economic development drive.

“Our business model reflects our goal to drive development through financial and advisory support to all customer levels with dedicated teams for micro, small and medium enterprises, youth and women-led businesses.

“Key issues considered are relatively low interest rate, MSME focus, innovative financial solutions, job and value creation, sustainability and societal impact,” he said.

Governor of Lagos, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said it was imperative for manufacturers to explore various avenues of financing to bolster competitiveness, sustainability and harness the full potentials of the AfCFTA.

Sanwo-Olu was represented by Mrs Adetutu Ososanya, Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives.

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He said that grants such export programme grants, market exploitation grants, business attraction grants among others were available for manufacturers to explore.

He said to attain and maintain competitiveness under AfCFTA, the state would continue to foster an environment that facilitate seamless access to financing options tailored to the unique needs of Nigerian manufacturers.

“Manufacturers can also take advantage of traditional sources such as venture capital, private equity, export financing to support and facilitate international trade and exports.

“There is need to collaborate with finance sector, manufacturers, private sector and government establishments,” he said.

Otunba Francis Meshioye, President, MAN, said the recent economic developments brought about government policies such as floating of the naira, removal of fuel subsidy, increase in interest rate, made the theme of the meeting apt and timely.

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He said the association would continue to give priority to issues affecting the sector, while striving to ensure that government provides the needed environment for our investments to thrive.

Mr Frank Onyebu, Chairman, MAN Apapa branch, appealed to the state and federal governments to come to the aid of the sector, especially with the AfCFTA at the full implementation stage.

Onyebu said that manufacturers were faced with numerous challenges in 2022, which were direct fallouts of the harsh operating environment and economic trends in Nigeria.

The challenges, he said, included deteriorated infrastructure, high energy costs, high inflation, multiple taxation, foreign exchange illiquidity, insecurity, and poor road infrastructure among others.

He urged the Lagos State Governor to prioritise manufacturing in the state and provide a more conducive environment for businesses to thrive.

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He, specifically, called for rehabilitation of road networks and drainages within industrial areas, especially the Kirikiri and Amuwo-Odofin industrial areas.

He also called for lasting solutions to the Apapa and Tincan ports road gridlocks by liaising with the federal government.

“We urge the government to create policies that would encourage willing manufacturers to improve on public infrastructure around their areas of operation in exchange for tax rebate like the Federal Government Executive Order 003.

“There is need for the state government to attend to the issue of multiple taxation to reduce the burden on manufacturers.

“We appeal to the governor to prevail on agencies to embrace the harmonisation inspection agreement reached between MAN and Lagos State Government,” he said.

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Diphtheria: Children at risk as 7,202 cases are confirmed in Nigeria

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A staggering 7,202 cases of diphtheria, a highly contagious bacterial infection that can be fatal without treatment, were confirmed in Nigeria last week.

The outbreak has been particularly severe among children under 14, with three-quarters of cases (73.6%) in this age group.

Most cases have been recorded in Kano state, Nigeria’s second most populous state. In the past three months, there have been 453 deaths from diphtheria in Nigeria.

Diphtheria is a vaccine-preventable disease, but low vaccination rates in Nigeria have made the outbreak possible. Only 42% of children under 15 in Nigeria are fully protected from diphtheria.

Diphtheria symptoms begin with a sore throat and fever. In severe cases, the bacteria produce a toxin that can block the airway, causing difficulty breathing and swallowing. The toxin can also spread to other body parts, causing heart kidney problems and nerve damage.

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Save the Children is launching a wide-scale health response in the three most impacted states of Kano, Yobe, and Katsina. The organization is deploying expert health and supply chain staff to help overstretched clinics detect and treat diphtheria cases and to support mass vaccination campaigns.

However, Save the Children warns that a mass vaccination campaign will only be successful if the vaccine shortage is urgently addressed.

Severe shortages in Nigeria of the required vaccine and the antitoxin needed to treat the disease mean that the situation could continue to escalate, placing many children at risk of severe illness and death.

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WHO releases $16m to tackle cholera, says Director-General

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released 16 million dollars from the WHO Contingency Fund for Emergencies to tackle cholera.

Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General said this during an online news conference.

Ghebreyesus said that the organisation was providing essential supplies, coordinating the on the ground response with partners, supporting countries to detect, prevent and treat cholera, and informing people how to protect themselves.

“To support this work, we have appealed for 160 million dollars, and we have released more than 16 million dollars from the WHO Contingency Fund for Emergencies.

“But the real solution to cholera lies in ensuring everyone has access to safe water and sanitation, which is an internationally recognized human right,” he said.

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According to him, in the previous week, WHO published new data showing that cases reported in 2022 were more than double those in 2021.

He said that the preliminary data for 2023 suggested was likely to be even worse.

“So far, 28 countries have reported cases in 2023 compared with 16 during the same period in 2022.

“The countries with the most concerning outbreaks right now are Ethiopia, Haiti, Iraq and Sudan.

“Significant progress has been made in countries in Southern Africa, including Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, but these countries remain at risk as the rainy season approaches,” Ghebreyesus said.

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According to him, the worst affected countries and communities are poor, without access to safe drinking water or toilets.

He said that they also face shortages of oral cholera vaccine and other supplies, as well as overstretched health workers, who are dealing with multiple disease outbreaks and other health emergencies.

On COVID-19, Ghebreyesus said that as the northern hemisphere winter approaches, the organisation continued to see concerning trends.

He said that among the relatively few countries that report them, both hospitalisations and ICU admissions have increased in the past 28 days, particularly in the Americas and Europe.

WHO boss said that meanwhile, vaccination levels among the most at-risk groups remained worryingly low.

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“Two-thirds of the world’s population has received a complete primary series, but only one-third has received an additional, or “booster” dose.

“COVID-19 may no longer be the acute crisis it was two years ago, but that does not mean we can ignore it,” he said.

According to him, countries invested so much in building their systems to respond to COVID-19.

He urged countries to sustain those systems, to ensure people can be protected, tested and treated for COVID-19 and other infectious threats.

“That means sustaining systems for collaborative surveillance, community protection, safe and scalable care, access to countermeasures and coordination,” he said.

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