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WTO: Trade, Africa’s most effective tool to fight poverty



  • …As Enelamah harps on Developmental financing, higher collaboration, better results
  • …OGFZA says Why Intels’ licence is not renewed

The Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Mr Roberto Azevedo on Thursday in Abuja identified trade as Africa’s most effective tool for fighting poverty.

Azevedo indicated this in Abuja, at a two-day high level policy and private sector trade and investment facilitation partnership forum, noting that trade must however be complemented by increasing connectivity and good infrastructure.

“Trade is 24 per cent of the GDP of African countries. Developing countries will need 2.5 trillion dollar investments annually if they are to meet certain goals.

“Steps to creating enabling environment include sharing ideas, exchanging insights, cooperation at the global level to facilitate investment flows.

Also, the host and Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr Okechukwu Enelamah, said although Nigeria had moved up to 145 from its previous position of 169 out of 190 economies collated by the World Bank, there was room for improvement.

“The World Bank also said Nigeria is one of the top 10 reformers. That is not where we want to be but it is better than where we were and we will move up,’’ he said.

Welcoming investors and his trade counterparts across Africa, Enelamah said there was an abundance of opportunities which must be tapped with right policies and regional integration.

He said there was an urgent need to facilitate development financing and to encourage better collaboration that would lead to better results.

In his remarks, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Marcel de Souza, commended Nigeria’s latest World Bank ranking on the ease of doing business charts.

He said although Africa had improved in free movement of persons, there was the challenge of movement of goods and the need to refocus on employment for the youth.

“We still have terrorism threatening our regions but we have adopted systems to resolve conflicts and created adopted investment codes to avoid competition among member states.

“We must begin to think towards the common currency. Systems of exchange are not easy so we have adopted programmes to go towards common currency as soon as possible.

“If we can achieve this, we’ll have more investments. I urge investors to look into health, transportation to reduce poverty,’’ he said.

The Commissioner for Trade and Industry African Union, Mr Albert Muchanga, said Nigeria’s new ranking “will improve livelihoods for the ordinary people, create jobs and boost standard of living.

“The visa on arrival policy is a step in the right direction. It will promote trade and investments across the continent’’.

The Secretary-General, UN Conference on Trade and Development, Mr Mukhisa Kituyi, expressed the said hope that Nigeria would exert its weight as the regional leader.

“Your success will go a long way in achieving our collective goals. It is sad that many African countries charge higher tariffs on goods from other African countries than goods from Europe.

“Investments cannot happen by accident, even through promotion councils, but through actual investments which is as important as trade,’’ Kituyi said.

An investor, Omar Ben Yedder, lauded the visa-on-arrival policy at the nation’s port of entry to encourage investors, calling it “smooth and easy to get’’.

The visa on arrival was initiated to fast track entry into the country for investors coming into the country.

The forum, which has the theme: Facilitating Trade and Investment for Developmen,t is co-hosted by the WTO, ECOWAS Commission and the private sector.

In the meantime, amidst escalating dispute between the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA) and the oil and gas logistic giant, Intels Nigeria Limited (INL) OGFZA has alleged that INL has not met the conditions for licence renewal.

Earlier, last week, INL had indicated that OGFZA held back its licence renewal due to outstanding contention between the two organisation even after it had paid the renewal fee.

INL had listed some of the contentious issues including the imposition of land charges by OGFZA; nullification of INL’s Industry Wide Standard Tariff (IWST) and other port related charges by OGFZA. But OGFZA said though the payment of a licence fee is necessary, it is not a sufficient condition for the renewal of a Free Zone licence.

In a statement, last night, the Managing Director of OGFZA, Mr Umana Okon Umana, said: “The payment of free zone licence fee by Intels does not in itself constitute a sufficient condition for the renewal of its operating licence for 2017.” He also said that in line with Section 35(b) of the Act, OGFZA, in a letter, FZA/INTEL/02/FZE/VO1/007, received by INL on December 21, 2016, had requested INL to submit its audited accounts and other reports.

According to him, INL has yet to meet that requirement and has not even responded to that letter. He stated: “Intel’s explanation for non-compliance is that it has disputed some of the charges that it has been asked to pay. By its position, Intels is asking for the suspension of Section 35 of the Act so that it can meet the conditions for licensing, OGFZA said.

“We find your position quite unacceptable because payment of fees and any outstanding amount due to the Authority cannot be compromised on the altar of a purported dispute unilaterally set up by a prospective licensee,” OGFZA stated in its response to Intels’ protest letter December, last year. OGFZA also said other licensees who had issues with the demand notices, took immediate steps to meet with the OGFZA in order to reconcile areas of differences.

Intels also disputed the land lease/sublease registration charge demanded by the free zone regulator, saying that the land it occupies was leased from the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and not from OGFZA.

Additional report from Vanguard



Troops Destroy 51 Illegal Refining Sites, Recover Stolen Crude Oil – DHQ



….Destroy 7 dugout pits, 25 boats, 47 storage tanks, five vehicles, one outboard engine, others

The Defence Headquarters says  troops of Operation Delta Safe have  destroyed 51 illegal oil refining sites and recovered stolen crude oil and refined products in the Niger Delta in the last one week.

The Director of Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. Edward Buba, disclosed  in a statement on Friday in Abuja.

Buba said the troops also apprehended 58 perpetrators of oil theft and denied them of  estimated sum of N668.7 million

He said the troops destroyed seven dugout pits, 25 boats, 47 storage tanks, five vehicles, 141 cooking ovens, one pumping machine, one outboard engine, one tricycle, one speedboat and one tugboat.

According to him, troops recovered 267,700 litres of stolen crude oil, 567,700 litres of illegally refined AGO and 5,000 litres of DPK.

“Troops has maintained momentum against oil theft and arrested persons involved in oil theft in Bonny and Ikpoba Local Government Areas of Rivers and Edo States respectively.

“Troops also arrested suspected armed robbers and foiled illegal bunkering activities in Oshimili South and Ukwa West of Delta and Abia States respectively,” he said.

In the South East, Buba said  troops of Operation UDO KA arrested 15 suspected criminals and repelled attacks by IPOB/ESN criminals in Anambra, Abia and Imo States.

He said the troops conducted raids and rescued kidnapped hostages in Ishielu and Igbo Eze North Local Government Areas of Ebonyi and Enugu States respectively.

He said the troops neutralised three criminals, rescued five kidnapped hostages and recovered 14 rounds of 7.62mm NATO ammo.

In the South West, Buba said  troops of Operation AWATSE foiled armed robbery attacks in Orelope and Olorunsogo Local Government Areas of Oyo State and arrested a gunrunner in Obafemi Owode Local Government Area of Ogun.

According to him, troops rescued 15 kidnapped hostages and recovered two vehicles.

“All recovered items, arrested suspects and rescued hostages were handed over to the relevant authority for further action,” he added.

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NEPZA Boss Says Nation’s Free Trade Zones Not Really `Free’



The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) says the country’s Free Trade Zones are business anchorages that have for decades been used to generate revenues for the Federal Government.

Dr Olufemi Ogunyemi, the Managing Director of NEPZA, said this in a statement by the authority’s
Head of Corporate Communications, Martins Odeh, on Monday in Abuja, stressing that the the widely held notion that the scheme is a `free meal ticket’ for investors and not a means for the government to generate revenue is incorrect.

Ogunyemi said this public statement was essential to clarify the misunderstanding by various individuals and entities, in and out of government, on the nature of the scheme.

He reiterated the authority’s commitment to enhancing public knowledge of the principal reason for the country’s adoption of the scheme by the NEPZA Act 63 of 1992.

“The Free Trade Zones are not hot spots for revenue generation. Instead, they exist to support socioeconomic development.

“These include but are not limited to industrialisation, infrastructure development, employment generation, skills acquisition, foreign exchange earnings, and Foreign Direct Investments(FDI) inflows,” Ogunyemi said.

The managing director said the NEPZA Act provided exemption from all federal, state, and local government taxes, rates, levies, and charges for FZE, of which duty and VAT were part.

“However, goods and services exported into Nigeria attract duty, which includes VAT and other charges.

“In addition, NEPZA collects over 20 types of revenues, ranging from 500,000 dollars-Declaration fees, 60,000 dollars for Operation License (OPL) Renewal Fees between three and five years.

“There is also the 100-300 dollar Examination and Documentation fees per transaction, which occurs daily.

“There are other periodic revenues derived from vehicle registration and visas, among others.

“The operations within the free trade zones are not free in the context of the word,” he said.

Ogunyemi said the global business space had contracted significantly, adding that to win a sizable space would require the ingenuity of the government to either expand or maintain the promised incentives.

“These incentives will encourage more multinational corporations and local investors to leverage on the scheme, which has a cumulative investment valued at 30 billion dollars.

“The scheme has caused an influx of FDIs; it has also brought advanced technologies, managerial expertise, and access to global markets.

“For instance, the 52 FTZs with 612 enterprises have and will continue to facilitate the creation of numerous direct and indirect jobs, currently estimated to be within the region of 170,000,” he said.

Ogunyemi said an adjustment in title and introduction of current global business practices would significantly advance the scheme, increasing forward and backward linkages.

“This is with a more significant market offered by the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA).

“We have commenced negotiations across the board to ensure that the NEPZA Act is amended to give room for adjusting the scheme’s title from `Free Trade Zones to Special Economic Zones respectively.

“This will open up the system for the benefit of all citizens,” he said.

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2023 CLPA: Policy Cohesion Imperative For Implementation Of AfCFTA Agreements, Others



Some policy experts and stakeholders have called for policy cohesion across Africa for the successful implementation of multilateral policy decisions.

They spoke on Wednesday during one of the plenaries at the 2023 Conference on Land Policy in Africa (CLPA), held in Addis Ababa.

The CLPA, the fifth in the series, is organised by the tripartite consortium consisting of the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

The 2023 edition has the theme, ‘Year of AfCFTA: Acceleration of the African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation’.

Dr Medhat El-Helepi (ECA), chaired the plenary with the sub-theme: ‘Land Governance, Regional Integration, and Intra-Africa Trade: Opportunities and Challenges’.

Panelists at the plenary included Dr Stephen Karingi, Director, Regional Integration and Trade, ECA; Mr Tsotetsi Makong, Head of Capacity Building and Technical Assistance, AfCFTA Secretariat.

Others were Mr Kebur Ghenna, CEO, of the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI) and Ms Eileen Wakesho, Director of Community Land Protection at Namati, Kenya.

The event also attracted various stakeholders, including traditional leaders, Civil Society Organisations, and policy decision-makers.

Makong expressed worries over the reluctance of some participants to openly discuss some matters, pleading ‘no go areas of domestic affairs’.

He, however, noted that the issues of land were within the limit of domestic regulations, adding that tenure land security was the solution that would allow intra-African investment that is still low in Africa.

Makong pointed out that the success of the investment protocol under the AfCFTA would depend on countries’ domestic laws that should be in line with the AfCFTA.

“There are guidelines on land reforms that need to be turned into regulations within the domestic systems.

“Policy coherence has to be at the heart of what we do. This can be achieved by engaging everyone including women and youth at the grassroots level.

“Also, you cannot be talking of AfCFTA as of it is just about Ministers of Trade, Economy or Investment. The idea is a totality of the entire governance structure. This is very important,” he said.

Speakers also noted that inclusive land governance was one of the key pillars to enhance Africa’s drive to improve intra-African trade, food security, and sustainable food systems.

They said an inclusive governance system would allow stakeholders to create transparency, subsidiarity, inclusiveness, prior informed participation, and social acceptance by affected communities in land-based initiatives beyond their borders.

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