For most developed countries, the youths remain an important focus in areas such as economic development, sustainability and nation building. When organisations and government drive conversations and activities around social investments, these discourses are usually focused on empowering young people as they hold the power to drive growth across all levels of the economy, both locally and internationally.
In a country like Nigeria, with lots of liquid resources and just about N2.11 trillion in circulation as at May 2019, according to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the standard of living for the average citizen does not exactly reflect the volume of Nigeria’s asset. There is an existing gap in connecting education, employment and entrepreneurship within the youths, creating a great layer of social inequality.
Globally, more than 200 million young people are either unemployed, or have jobs, but continue to live in poverty due to low income. This social and economic inequality is a challenge shared by many countries.
In fact, it is estimated that one per cent of the world’s population will own two thirds of its wealth. This level of inequality stifles growth and creates disharmony. It significantly affects disadvantaged young people, who often can’t access the skills and opportunities needed to close this income gap.
The question for us now is how we build a sustainable development agenda, spearheaded by young people now and in the future. How do we invest in them and equip them to learn, earn and grow?
Achieving a more developed and sustainable society as a nation, calls for youth inclusion in closing the obvious existing inequality and prosperity gap. Heavy and consistent investment in youths through education employment and entrepreneurship will contribute greatly to tackling this challenge.
Youths are often referred to as social actors with the abilities to bring revolutionary changes and improvement in any society so there is a need to implement long term strategies to invest in future economies. Active youthful engagement in the labour market is a necessary prerequisite to generating a young people pool of resources for both government and private entities.
In Standard Chartered Bank, we believe that education, employment and entrepreneurship are three key pillars through which young people can be empowered. We do this through our Future Makers project, which seeks to tackle the issue of inequality and promote greater economic inclusion for young people in our communities. We encourage young people especially from low income households to take part in programmes focused on education, employability and entrepreneurship.
Our strong ambition is focused on raising $50 million through fundraising and bank-matching between 2019 and 2023 to empower the next generation of young people. We also realized that the success of some of our existing community programmes are projective to include expanding our goal to education programme for girls, incorporating financial education into all of our programmes and developing new global community programmes in employability and entrepreneurship.
We must not also forget the entrepreneurs in our communities, who remain valuable assets. There is a need to inspire and encourage them to their greatest potential as they possess what it takes to change the dynamics of how we live and work. Their innovations may improve standards of living and also create wealth.
Despite the strides made in technology, the “gender digital divide” remains a major concern. There is significant difference in access to technology and financial services for women owned enterprises than men.
In Nigeria, female population comprises of 49.34 per cent of the total population of Nigeria. With fewer income generating opportunities for the population at large, this leaves nearly half of the Nigerian population constituting women deprived of economic empowerment through employment, professional growth and livelihood opportunities. For us at Standard Chartered, this just isn’t good enough.
Similar to several emerging markets like Pakistan and Brazil, Nigeria is currently passing through a demographic transition, which has resulted in an increase in the working-age population i.e. youths comprising nearly half of the population, as a share of the total population.
To reap the ‘demographic dividend’ of this change, the economy needs to provide education and create productive and remunerative employment for young workforce entrants. Moreover, innovation through digitisation and entrepreneurship is a crucial and workable element in human capital development.
The bank has recently launched the Women in Tech Incubator programme (WiT) to help close this divide. WiT Tech targets female-led entrepreneurial teams and we provide them with training, mentorship and seed funding. The incubators includes mentorship with the bank’s own staff, connecting women in tech to other prominent brands like Google and Apple, and providing a platform for them to engage with experts so they could learn how to grow their business. The programme creates tangible and measurable impact to ensure that female entrepreneurs have the right opportunities to grow and nurture their business.
We are optimistic about the impact this programme will have on the socio-economic empowerment of female led entrepreneurs in Nigeria. The support the beneficiaries will get will go a long way in ensuring the sustainability of the businesses while creating employment for more women and youths in the country. This initiative builds on the bank’s track record of increasing women’s access to entrepreneurial finance, employability and supporting adolescent girls and women through financing and capacity building.
From our standpoint, the development and sustenance of a good economy in any nation is dependent on the level of quality education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities especially available to young people.
Conscious steps must be taken towards equipping the youth regardless of class and economic status, with access to opportunities needed to realize their full potential to foster greater economic inclusion.
(Aderugbo is the Head of Corporate Affairs, Brand & Marketing, Standard Chartered Bank for Nigeria and West Africa)
Stop kids from viewing porn, Pope tells tech companies
Pope Francis called Thursday for Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google and other tech companies to urgently take measures to remove child porn from the web and prevent children from accessing pornography online.
Francis told a Vatican conference of religious leaders and high-tech representatives that it’s no longer acceptable to merely follow the law in monitoring online content, because technology is fast outpacing regulation, reports The Associated Press.
He said tech and computer software companies should assume a moral responsibility to protect young people from what he said were the ruinous effects of pornography on their emotional and sexual development.
“There is a need to ensure that investors and managers remain accountable, so that the good of minors and society is not sacrificed to profit,” he said.
Francis was addressing participants at the conference “Promoting Digital Child Dignity,” which follows on a 2017 conference hosted by the Jesuit university in Rome and a 2018 meeting in Abu Dhabi.
Francis cited obligatory age verification technology and artificial intelligence to eliminate criminal porn from the web as two concrete measures high tech companies and software-makers could take to protect children.
The Vatican has sought to raise awareness about protecting children online as part of its response to the Catholic Church’s dreadful record with clergy sexual abuse. The issue has hit close to home for Francis, after one of his diplomats was sentenced to five years in prison by a Vatican court for viewing child pornography, and one of his own Argentine bishops was placed under investigation by the church after porn was found on his cellphone.
The two-day conference at the Vatican featured speakers from Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook and Paramount Pictures, U.N. and EU officials, as well as the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians and the grand imam of the Al-Azhar university in Cairo, the seat of Sunni learning. Francis’ secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, was to close out the conference on Friday, in an indication of the importance the Vatican placed on it.
In his remarks, Francis said technology has obvious benefits for children, but also poses risks and negative effects that often aren’t apparent until it is too late to remedy them.
He indirectly dismissed claims by Facebook and other social media companies that they are merely “platforms” for others to share content.
“It is now clear that they cannot consider themselves completely unaccountable vis-a-vis the services they provide for their customers,” he said. “So I make an urgent appeal to them to assume their responsibility toward minors, their integrity and their future.”
Zimbabwe to cut VAT to boost consumer demand
Zimbabwe plans to cut value added tax (VAT) from January to stimulate consumer demand in an economy set to a contract this year after a drought and power shortages, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said on Thursday.
The southern African nation is in the grips of its worst economic crisis in a decade, marked by shortages of foreign currency, fuel and rolling power cuts lasting up to 18 hours a day.
Presenting the 2020 budget to parliament, Ncube proposed cutting VAT to 14.5% from 15% effective January 2020. He also proposed lowering the corporate income tax rate to 24% from 25%, reports Reuters.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took over from the late Robert Mugabe in 2017, is struggling to convince the population that his economic reforms will work.
Everyday life is increasingly difficult. Prices of basic goods, fuel and electricity have risen sharply while salaries have lagged behind.
That trend could continue after Ncube said he would from next January remove subsidies on maize and wheat, the two most consumed crops in Zimbabwe.
To give some relief to Zimbabweans who have seen their incomes eroded by inflation, which economists estimate at 380%, Ncube also raised non-taxable monthly income to 2,000 Zimbabwe dollars ($130) from 700 Zimbabwe dollars.
Ncube painted a rosier outlook on GDP growth, forecasting that the economy would grow by 3% next year after a projected contraction of 6.5% this year, helped by better agricultural output and electricity supplies.
He also said the country’s budget deficit would narrow to 1.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020 from 4% of GDP this year as the government keeps spending in check.
Direct Qantas flight completes non-stop journey from London to Sydney
A non-stop flight from London to Sydney has landed, 19 hours and 19 minutes after take-off.
The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner is believed to have set a long-distance record for a passenger jet, reports standard.co.uk.
It left Heathrow around 6am (local time) on Thursday and touching down at Sydney Airport at 12:28pm on Friday (1.30am UK time).
The flight was conducted to research the effects on crew and passengers of ultra-long-haul services which are under consideration by the airline.
It was carrying 40 people, many of them Qantas staffers.
Those on board witnessed two sunrises, the first to the right of the aircraft as it headed north-east after takeoff, and the second to its left as it flew over Indonesia.
Aside from research, the flight kicked off a year of celebrations for the centenary of the airline, which will officially turn 99 on Saturday.
Qantas Chairman, Richard Goyder said the flight continued the airline’s history of helping Australia engage with the rest of the world.
“Qantas is a national icon because it’s been such a big part of Australian life for so long,” Goyder said in a statement.
“Our founders talked about overcoming the tyranny of distance and through the years we’ve moved from bi-planes, to single wing, to jets to help bring things closer.”
Airtel acquires Intercellular in $70m deal
Airtel Africa yesterday announced the acquisition of Intercellular Nigeria in a transaction valued at about $70 million.
The acquisition is aimed at boosting its Nigerian operation, Airtel Nigeria, with additional spectrum to expand its network across the country.
Airtel Africa disclosed this in a regulatory filing to its shareholders through the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).
The telecoms firm, with a presence in 14 countries on the continent, said its Nigerian subsidiary signed an agreement with Intercellular Nigeria Limited to acquire an additional 10 megahertz (MHz) spectrum in the 900 MHz band in Nigeria.
Intercellular Nigeria Limited commenced commercial operations as a public company in 1998 after being awarded a National Fixed License in 1996.
Prior to its acquisition, Intercellular Nigeria operated with a National Unified Access Service License and was able to provide a complete range of telecommunication services to Nigerians.
Airtel Africa said the acquisition of the additional spectrum would allow Airtel Nigeria to expand its operations and strengthen its LTE network across Nigeria, considered the largest market for Airtel Africa.
The deal is, however, subject to regulatory approval by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
The latest acquisition aligns with the company’s plan to continue to dominate the tele-mobile communications space on the continent.
Last August, the company unfolded plans to roll out its mobile money platform. The company said it was continuing its aggressive investment in its 4G network infrastructure, with nearly 1,500 additional sites across its operational locations, apparently preparatory to the roll out.
In the last six months period ended September 30, 2019, Airtel Nigeria announced a 23 per cent increase in its revenue, with revenue from data sales increasing by about 76 per cent during the period, driven by the accelerated rollout of its 4G network.
The increase in data customer base rose by about 20.8 per cent, with an ARPU growth of about 43 per cent. The report said during the period, 4G data usage by its customers increased by almost 20 folds.
Reacting to the latest acquisition, the Chief Executive of Airtel Africa, Raghunath Mandava, identified data as a key pillar of the company’s growth, driven by increasing 4G networks, supported by the increased affordability and increasing penetration of smartphones.
ProPetro confirms SEC probe, accounting weaknesses
Oilfield services firm, ProPetro Holding Corp, on Wednesday, said a board of investigation had uncovered material weaknesses in its financial controls and an undisclosed related-party transaction with its former chief accountant.
The Midland, Texas-based company also confirmed Reuters’ report last month that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission had opened an investigation in its financial disclosures and reporting.
ProPetro provided the first snapshot of its business since disclosing the departure of its chief accounting officer and the demotion of two top officials amid an internal investigation into its financial accounting and disclosures.
According to Reuters, its board identified weaknesses in internal controls, two of which were material and at least one of which existed since Dec. 31. It plans to amend its 2018 annual report and first-quarter 2019 financial filing to reflect the change, it said in a statement.
The undisclosed related-party transaction involved a business owned in part by former chief accounting officer Ian Denholm that had sold or leased a facility to ProPetro. Denholm resigned in October.
He did not immediately respond to a LinkedIn request seeking comment and attempts to reach him by phone were unsuccessful.
ProPetro also said it would not file its second- and third-quarter reports to the SEC before Dec. 31 due to the continuing investigation. Its internal review, however, has not to date identified anything requiring restatements of its balance sheet, statement of operations, shareholders’ equity or statements of cash flow, it said.
A company spokesman declined a request to interview an executive on Wednesday. ProPetro will hold a conference call on Thursday morning to discuss its results.
The company reported net income fell to $34.4 million, or 33 cents per share, for the three months ended Sept. 30, from $46.3 million, or 53 cents per share, a year earlier.
ProPetro has disclosed real-estate and rental transactions with executives and board members. In addition, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder Dale Redman and former finance chief and co-founder Jeffrey Smith reimbursed the company a combined $364,000 for expenses improperly billed to ProPetro.
Shares of ProPetro, which went public in early 2017, were up about 5.5 per cent at $7.74 in after-hours trading after closing down 4.6 per cent on Wednesday.
NSE: Investors gain N246bn
●Market rises to five-week high
Nigerian stock market rose 1.91 per cent to a five-week high yesterday, boosted by demand for stocks in banking and other blue chip firms.
The index, which is down 16 per cent so far this year, firmed up to a level last seen in October, as most bank shares recorded appreciable growth.
Analysts at Afrinvest Securities Limited had said recent CBN restrictions on Open Market Operations (OMO) would restore confidence in the volatile stock market, considering the low stock prices.
“The CBN recently restricted individuals, local corporates, and non-banking financial institutions from participating in both the primary and secondary markets of Open Market Operation (OMO).
“Following this directive, we expect investors’ focus to shift towards equities due to current low prices and attractive dividend yields,” the analysts said.
The key market performance measures, the NSE All Share Index and market capitalisation, rose by 1.91 per cent as market sentiments returned to gaining streaks following investors’ sustained optimism on undervalued stocks.
Consequently, the All-Share Index gained 504 basis points or 1.91 per cent to close at 26,843.11 as against 26,339.11 recorded the previous day while the market capitalisation of equities appreciated by N243 billion or 1.91 per cent to close at N13.067 trillion from N12.821 trillion as market sentiment returned to the green zone.
Meanwhile, a turnover of 624.8 million shares exchanged in 6,426 deals was recorded in the day’s trading.
The premium sub-sector was the most active (measured by turnover volume); with 368 million shares exchanged by investors in 2,623 deals.
Volume in the sub-sector was largely driven by activities in the shares of Zenith Bank Plc and Access Bank Plc.
The banking sub-sector boosted by activities in the shares of GTBank Plc and Sterling Bank Plc followed with a turnover of 105.5 million shares in 2,668 deals.
Attaining full-scale groundnut production
In a bid to improve on groundnut production value chain, the National Groundnut Producers Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NGROPPMAN) has revealed plans to boost groundnut production to 17.5 million metric tonnes by the end of 2025. Taiwo Hassan reports
Nigeria produces 41 per cent of the total groundnut in West Africa. Besides, the groundnut pyramids used to be conspicuous in Kano city of Kano State (northern Nigeria).
The huge piles of sacks that tapered to a point higher than most of the buildings, were a symbol of northern Nigeria’s abundance in an important cash crop.
But today, the dusty yards where the groundnut marketing board stock- piled farmer’s harvest lie mostly empty and have been occupied by buildings.
The history of groundnut in Nigeria dates back to 1912, when most farmers were encouraged by high economic returns from groundnut. The marketing of the crop was well organised at that period.
At the end of each production season, agents moved to various parts of the region to purchase the produce while some farmers preferred to carry their produce by themselves to Kano city, where it was sold at a price fixed by the marketing board. The produce was collected from strategic collection centers and then transported to the port of Lagos by train.
Groundnut production decline
However, groundnut production in Kano and neighboring states has declined significantly. For instance, the total groundnut production up to 1973 used to be more than 1.6 million tonnes, which has come down to less than 0.7 million tonnes in the mid 80’s.
Both farmers and traders shifted to other agricultural (e.g. cowpea, sorghum, millet) and horticultural crops. This decline also affected industries, which used groundnut as raw material. Some even closed down or shifted to other oil seeds.
Several factors led to the rapid decline in groundnut production in Nigeria. The major causes were drought, rosette virus, and general neglect of agriculture due to oil boom, lack of organized input and marketing and dissolution of groundnut marketing boards.
There have been adverse changes in rainfall pattern in the last 30 years. Average annual rainfall has reduced drastically from 800 mm to 600 mm and consequently the length of the growing season has become shorter (from 4 to 3 months).
Breakdown shows that drought spells have become more frequent than ever before. This undoubtedly has led to the failure of groundnut, which requires more than 4 months with the currently available cultivars to reach maturity. Drought has also been associated with outbreaks of diseases and insect pests such as aphids. Aphids are carriers of the groundnut rosette virus, which is a devastating disease. It wipes out the entire crop during epidemic outbreak.
For example, in 1975, an epidemic of rosette virus destroyed nearly three quarters of a million hectares of the crop in Nigeria and wiped out regional trade worth estimated at $250 million.
Subsequent epidemics in 1983, 1985 and 1988 had a major impact on farmers’ decisions. Many of the farmers who suffered financial ruin have stuck to other crops such as cowpea, sorghum and pearl millet.
As a consequence, groundnut production has not yet returned to the pre-1970 levels of 1.8 million tonnes. Research on fertilizer use in northern Nigeria began in 1925. Experiments have shown that groundnuts respond to added superphosphate. Seed for planting was freely distributed to growers and cash subsidy was later introduced. This encouraged farmers to use high quality seeds and fertilizer.
However, following the introduction and application of suitable fertilizer, the country’s groundnut production has been steadily since the farmers were taught on the need to use high quality seeds which automatically buoys increased in volume of production.
To consolidate the country’s groundnut production and value chain, National Groundnut Producers Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NGROPPMAN) believes that attaining groundnut production target of 17.5 million metric tonnes by the end of 2025 from its present level can be achieved.
President of NGROPPMAN, Aimu Foni, told newsmen after the conclusion of a stakeholders’ meeting in Abuja that plans were already underway.
He said that the 17.5 million metric tonnes projected was part of the groundnut draft policy, being reviewed by important stakeholders.
Foni stressed that the policy would improve the production of groundnut and help reposition other value chains when adopted by the stakeholders and supported by the Federal Executive Council.
“The objective of the draft policy, which is still under review, is to improve groundnut production and make it a major source of revenue generation for the government.
“The policy when approved will further tackle the problem of training and extension services, critical to agricultural development. Also, the document will help with risk management, marketing as well as competitiveness to ensure robust domestic consumption and high-quality export,” he said.
‘Next level’ mantra
The Secretary-General of the association, Adeniyi Adebayo, said the stakeholders were eager to take groundnut production to the next level.
He said, “We met to see how to contribute meaningfully to the new groundnut policy. As you know, we are into production, processing, and marketing as a sub-sector and the draft policy is focused on these areas.
“In terms of production, it dwells on how the lives of groundnut farmers will be improved. Most times when there is excess production, farmers are often left to bear their losses as they sell their produce at giveaway prices.”
Adebayo expressed hope that when adopted by stakeholders and sent by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to FEC, it would be approved.
With the groundnut draft policy review underway, agric stakeholders believe seed is basic to agriculture and makes a major contribution to agricultural productivity. Unless groundnut seed is available in the right place, at the right time, in adequate quantities and quality at affordable prices, it will be difficult to meet the target.
TUC restates commitment to workers’ welfare
President of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), Comrade Quadri Olaleye, has restated the commitment of the congress to improving welfare of the nation’s workers.
Olaleye, who is also the President of Food, Beverage &Tobacco Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (FOBTOB), stated this during a parley with the media, noting that most labour leaders were indeed junketing with politicians at the expense of embattled Nigerian workers, who they ought to be protecting.
Represented at the occasion by National Treasurer of FOBTOB, Aderogba Adebayo, he said: “The workers are the reason why we are in existence.But most of us in the Labour movement today have neglected our core responsibility of defending the right of Nigerian workers.”
He stressed that the new leadership of TUC was out to advance the interests of workers everywhere and urged all critical stakeholders to support it to achieve the goal.
Olaleye commended the cordial relationship existing between the congress and the media, urging newsmen to shun sensationalism but rather strike a balance in their reportage.
Create jobs from your talents, youths advised
… as sport minister graces award, book launch
A German-based Nigerian journalist, author, evangelist and motivational speaker, Mrs. Gift Chidinma Nnamoko, has advised Nigerian youths to redirect their energy deployed in seeking white collar jobs to rediscover their god given talents and create employment for themselves.
Nnamoko, who has motivated youths into different spheres of positive engagements across the country through talk shows and editorial materials, gave the advice ahead of her book launch and award ceremonies to honour some entrepreneurs, who have excelled greatly in their careers.
Speaking on the book titled ‘The Beauty of Unemployment,’ Nnamoko, who is currently based in Germany, said she decided to publish the book as part of her numerous approaches to curbing youth restiveness in the country.
She said in writing the book, which will be unveiled alongside a magazine, Wear Africa, as well as presentation of awards on November 19 at Oriental Hotel in Lagos, she painstakingly picked some individuals, who have succeeded in their chosen career from startups without losing focus.
Expected at the event is the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare as well as other dignitaries.
According to her, “who says Africa is only a continent where you find poverty, war, and diseases? As much as you have the bad and the ugly, you also have the good. If you are fixated on the negatives of life there is no doubt that you will miss the big picture.
“In my journey as an entrepreneur, I believe there are ‘blessings’ that come with being unemployed. Many youths have given up just because they are without a paid job. There is still good news for you. Why spend all your life waiting to be employed when you can actually become an entrepreneur? I have also met lots of successful businessmen and other professionals who are on top of their careers.
“They started out on their own, some of them never having applied for paid jobs. This is not to say that they didn’t face challenges associated with doing business in Africa. I assume they may have found ways to cope with power outages and infrastructural deficits. Despite the challenges, these acquaintances of mine are glad to find themselves in Africa at a time opportunities are springing up everywhere.”
Those to be given awards include Mr. Ifeanyi Oputa, MD/CEO, Colvi Ltd. (Photography); Mrs. Yvonne Benson, Fashion designer; Collins Abiodun Adeyemi, MD/CEO, CA Diversified Creation Nig. Ltd (Media and Events); Mrs. Esther Akinduro, Founder, Taes International Concept Ltd, (Construction); Mr. Peter Ogbudu, Founder, Pinq Island Nig. LTD (Entertainer), and Mrs. Titilope Ojo, CEO/Lead Consultant, A-Plus Trainers Ltd (SME Development), among others.
Dangote promises to empower 18,000 women
The Group Executive Director, Dangote Industries Limited, Halima Aliko-Dangote, has promised that Aliko Dangote Foundation will empower 18,000 women across the 18 local government areas in Edo State with micro-grants.
The Executive Director, Aliko Dangote Foundation, made the promise in Benin City during the Alaghodaro 2019 Summit in Benin City, to mark Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration’s third year anniversary.
According to her, the foundation board has approved the sum of N1billion for the micro-grant scheme to be implemented across Katsina, Kebbi, Zamfara and Edo states this year.
“The Foundation is planning to come to Edo and empower 18,000 women in 18 Local Governments through the micro-grants scheme and it is expected that these funds will generate a positive ripple effect on the incomes, livelihoods and poverty levels of the beneficiaries,” she added.
The programme, which is already running in other states, is being extended to Edo state for women empowerment.
“So far, since the ADF micro-grants began in 2012, the sum of N3.584 billion has been disbursed to women across Kano, Jigawa, Kogi, Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, Lagos, Niger, Nasarawa and Sokoto states,” she noted.
She said thousands of beneficiaries across the partner states, who are mainly small-scale entrepreneurs, market women, subsistent farmers and petty traders in items like soft drinks and pure water, have been able to expand their business, improve their incomes and livelihoods, and take better care of their families.
According to her, “in some states, a mobile phone/bank cards to start up or improve their income-generating activities were also added to the grants as a delivery mechanism for the funds in partnership with the respective state and local governments and mobile money/bank operators.”
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