Press zooms in on how Nigeria-Niger Republic rail project will boost trade, others

The Punch reports that the Nigerian Government has stated that the Nigeria-Niger Republic rail project would boost trade and other…

The Punch reports that the Nigerian Government has stated that the Nigeria-Niger Republic rail project would boost trade and other socioeconomic interactions between both countries.A statement by the Director, Press and Public Relations of the Ministry of Transportation, Henshaw Ogubike, said the minister in charge of the ministry, Mu’azu Sambo, stated this in Abuja at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on the project between Nigeria and the Republic of Niger on Thursday.

Sambo noted that the rail line, which will start from Kano State in Nigeria and end at Maradi in Niger Republic, will facilitate the realisation of the objectives of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, to which Nigeria and Niger Republic are signatories.

“I am aware that people have blood relationships across borders. So, the project will expand the historical cultural relationship between the people of Nigeria and those of the Niger Republic. The project is also very important in enhancing inter-nation and continental trade.”

He said that a technical committee would be set up within seven days in accordance with Article 3 of the MoU, adding that nomination of members and inauguration of the technical committee would be concluded by the first week of February 2023.

Sambo further said that after the inauguration, the technical committee would take charge of the facilitation and implementation of the project.

Speaking earlier, the Minister of Transportation of the Republic of Niger, Alma Oumarou, corroborated Sambo, saying the rail project will strengthen cultural ties between the two countries and create jobs.

In her welcome address, the Permanent Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr Magdalene Ajani, said work had been ongoing on the Kano-Maradi rail line for the past two years, adding that the signing of the MoU would expedite the completion of the project.

The newspaper says that the Central Bank of Nigeria on Thursday launched the Nigerian National Domestic Card Scheme to boost the electronic payment system in the country.

During the launch which was done virtually, the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said the card would help to reduce operating cost, charges and preserve foreign exchange in the country.

Emefiele said, “Ladies and gentlemen, at this time when foreign exchange challenges persist globally, it is important that I say that we have come up with this card to ensure that all online transactions will now effective immediately begin to go on the Nigerian National Domestic Card system.

“All domestic transactions that are going to be conducted in Nigeria will have to be through the Nigerian domestic cards.”

While the penetration of card payments in Nigeria had grown tremendously over the years, he said, many Nigerians were still excluded.

He noted that the challenges that had limited the inclusion of Nigerians include the high cost of card services as a result of foreign exchange requirements of international card schemes and the fact that existing card products do not address local peculiarities of the Nigerian market.

Given the limited usage of cards by Nigerians and in a bid to deepen penetration, he said the Bank actively promoted the National domestic card scheme which would be accessible to all Nigerians and also address local peculiarities.

He added, “But given that charges by foreign cards are in dollars, we will no longer pay dollars for the charges on those cards. Particularly, we would only pay dollars for charges for transactions that are done with whether they are domestic cards or foreign cards outside Nigeria”

The banking regulator said the CBN, Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc and the Nigerian banks would work together on how to segregate those transactions to ensure that they would only make charges or fees for international transactions that are conducted on the cards or the Visa or MasterCard.

“I thought it important for me to say so not because there’s any preference for the domestic card but what is most important is that we do not have foreign exchange and we will bar payment of charges for domestic transactions from the Nigerian foreign exchange market at some point in the very near future,” he said.

The Guardian reports that private sector leaders across the continent, yesterday, demanded the immediate takeoff of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), saying the scheme must translate from an idea to a real deal to create the needed impact on regional trade.

The business leaders spoke at the ongoing second edition of the Feed Africa Summit (Dakar 2) held at the Abdou Diouf Centre for International Conference, Dakar, the political seat of Senegal. They said the intra-African supply chain processes must be unlocked and liberalised to achieve food sufficiency in the region.

Those who shared this thought at the CEO Roundtable included the Chairman of Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, John Coumantaros; President of Ferme de la Teranga, Gora Seck and the President of CTC Group, Ahmed Abdellatif.

Others are Vice Chairman of ETG, Birju Patel; Rita Zniber of Diana Holdings; her counterpart at Dance Africa Corporation, Gerald Mahinda and Kenya’s top investment banker and politician, Polycarp Igathe.

This position comes as food sovereignty for Africa ceases attention at the summit organised by the African Development Bank (AfDB). With funding being highlighted as a major hurdle that must be surmounted to achieve food sufficiency on a sustainable basis, AfDB said it is committing $10 billion to its feed Africa project in the next five years to make the continent the food basket of the world.

Igathe, who spoke passionately about the need to unlock the potential of Africa and address the logistics bottlenecks as necessary actions to achieving the continent’s tall ambition, said the African trade agreement “needs to move from paper to reality” as a matter of urgency to enable Africans to trade with Africans seamlessly.

He listed some of the constraints facing intra-African trade to include infrastructure and logistics, saying the continent urgently needs policies that facilitate free movement. Igathe called for a review of fiscal frameworks across the continents, insisting that incentives, and not penalties, drive the world.

“We need to improve the investment climate, tackle rent-seeking and harmonise standards,” the ex-Kenya City deputy governor said. Mahinda, a South African, said AfCFTA should kick off immediately to strengthen African trade ties as he called on leaders across the board to stop highlighting the differences among different countries that make up the region but “emphasize the commonalities”.

The panelist also called for more collaboration among private sector players on alternative energy development. Coumantaros, in like manner, noted that leveraging science and technology would help in mitigating the consequences of changing climate on food production, processing and distribution.

According to the Flour Mills Chairman, Africa must double its food production in the next 25 years to avert a major crisis. He called for more investment in agronomic services to increase yields.

The newspaper says that the Federal Government, yesterday, began a move to tighten modalities guiding crude oil and gas production determination, verification and certification. Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Gbenga Komolafe, at a programme organised by the organisation, said the move is in line with provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).

According to him, it remains sacrosanct to dialogue and get the inputs of industry stakeholders on modalities and NUPRC’s requirements in production verification and certification.

The development, he noted, would enable the regulator determine the boundaries between the upstream petroleum industry and midstream petroleum operations. Represented by Deputy Director, Development and Production, Enorense Amadasun, Komolafe said the attempt would ensure accountability and end-to-end monitoring and verification of oil production, especially Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO), integrated systems and gas plants.

The NUPRC boss said there was also need to address issues on requirements in the issuance of certificate of quantity at FPSO, flow stations, integrated gas plants, while addressing the use of integrated terminals and gas plants as fiscal measurement.

He stressed that the commission was concerned about business continuity and ensuring low cost of production, adding that accurate measurement and timely payment of royalties remain fundamental for revenue security to government.

  Komolafe, while noting that safety, environment and health are key, pledged that NUPRC would ensure uninterrupted supply of crude oil and natural gas to domestic market.

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