Centre, NEPC demand women involvement in public procurement



The International Trade Centre (ITC) and Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) have called for increased participation of Women-Owned Businesses (WOB) in public procurement in Nigeria.

NEPC Executive Director, Mr Olusegun Awolowo, made the called on Thursday in Abuja at a two-Day SheTrades Policy Dialogue on Promoting Women Economic Empowerment and Public Procurement, organised by ITC in collaboration with NEPC.

The SheTrades Commonwealth project aims at increasing economic growth and job creation in commonwealth countries by enabling increased participation of WOB in international trade.

The project is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and implemented by the ITC under the framework of SheTrades initiatives.

Awolowo said this was coming on the heels of recent report that addressing women’s inequality could add 28 trillion dollars to global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2020, thereby enabling economies to unlock full potential.

Awolowo, represented by Mrs Evelyn Obidike, Director, Policy and Strategy, NEPC stated that public procurement was a powerful tool to achieve socio-economic objectives because it operated at intersection of the government’s regulatory and buying powers.

“In its combined role as buyer and policy maker, government has the opportunity to help shape and increase the participation of women-owned businesses in procurement markets.

“Public procurement policies, laws and regulations are designed based on principles of transparency, nondiscrimination, and maximum competition. These objectives can, and should include increased participation by women entrepreneurs,’’ he said.

According to him, women economic empowerment is crucial to economic growth and development, especially in emerging economies such as Nigeria.

He said that when women were economically empowered they could contribute significantly to employment generation, poverty reduction and increase in the standard of living.

“No longer does Nigeria want to export all her produce raw. We are eager to create value addition and it is female entrepreneurs that are leading this with the export of their products and services,’’ he said.

He recalled that NEPC in collaboration with the ITC inaugurated the SheTrades initiative in 2016 and the SheTrades in Commonwealth project in 2018 to empower women economically through greater participation in global trade and investment in Nigeria.

The NEPC further noted that the programmes had encouraged women entrepreneurs to register and make their businesses visible in the platform, leveraging trade as a channel for economic empowerment.

“The aim is to connect 200,000 women-owned businesses in Nigeria to international markets as part of the broader UN goal of connecting three million women by 2021.

“The initiatives equally offer a blueprint of seven global actions including public procurement, to unlock markets for women as well as a digital platform (web and mobile app) for women entrepreneurs to connect to buyers, investors and new markets.

“They provide a powerful platform that encourages stakeholders across governments and the private sector to address shortcomings and advance women’s economic empowerment.

“Gender equality and the empowerment of women is a prerequisite in achieving the Global Development Goals on Sustainable Development adopted by the UN setting forth an ambitious development agenda for 2030,’’ he said.

Appreciating ITC, he noted that the projects which were still on-going until May 2020 were very successful in Nigeria adding that it organised workshop in Lagos in 2018.

He said that the workshop targeted Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) owned by women in Textiles and Apparel, Agriculture Shea, Spices and Cashew, IT and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO).

The project, he said, had trained a total of 1,281 MSMEs owned by women on a variety of trade rated skills.

He further said that the project had connected 190 businesses to international buyers to date through support at international trade fairs, in country business linkage events, and partnership with large private sector companies.

“These activities have so far generated about 9m dollars of business leads, which the project is currently monitoring,’’ he said.

At the policy level, he said that the project was about to commence on-boarding for SheTrades Outlook, a comprehensive data platform focused on the role of women in trade and the effects of policy frameworks.

In an address, John Primose, Deputy Head of Office, DFID underscored the need for more women’s economic empowerment and listed ways by which DFID had supported.

Primose noted that economies with better gender equality could grow faster adding that bridging the gender gap in Sub-Saharan Africa could increase GDP by a staggering 34 per cent.

He explained that Nigeria’s Real GDP per capita growth could be higher by one percentage points each year if gender inequality was reduced in the region.

According to him, DFID is committed to placing women’s economic empowerment at the

heart of our approach globally and in Nigeria and helping to increase women’s role in international trade.

“Public procurement is a key driver of trade, both domestically and internationally, trade agreements are increasingly looking at the obligations of government to open public procurement opportunities to marginalised citizens,” he said.

Primose called for a very tangible framework to boost women’s access to economic opportunities which could be increased in trade, public procurement and gender.

The objective of the two-day dialogue is to develop a framework to support increased participation of women-owned business in public procurement in Nigeria.

Edited By: Donald Ugwu


Sanusi calls for diversification of economy to address poverty, inequality



Former Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, has said that Nigeria must diversify its economy in order to address the high rate of poverty and inequality in the country.

He also said governments at all levels must invest on human capital development and create enabling environment for investments, instead of borrowing to finance development.

Sanusi gave the advice in a presentation during the virtual Kaduna Economic and Investment Summit, on  Tuesday.

The former Governor of the Central Bank, however, said the Federal Government has minimal role to play in rejigging the economy.

“While everyone looks to the federal government for solutions, the truth is that its role in the economy is small – both in absolute and relative terms.’’

Sanusi noted that the nation’s economy has not been diversified, years after the discovery of oil.

He added that though Nigeria has generated an increase in wealth from $345 in 1985 to $2,655 in 2015 GDP per capita, but there has been no structural transformation in what the country actually produce.

According to him, though the economy is growing, but its non diversification has resulted to the high rate  of poverty and high level of inequality in the country.

He explained that the difference between African countries and those in Asia is that they have diversified from primary to secondary and tertiary sectors of the global economy.

“The major difference is that they have moved on but we have not,’’ he lamented.

Sanusi pointed out that Malaysia has the same factors that Nigeria has been using as an excuse for having not developed, adding that both countries are multi-ethnic and have fought wars.

The former Emir lamented that Nigeria is still a consumer nation instead of being a producer, by seizing on the investments that the government has done in technology.

“Africa’s failure has been in not leveraging on the underlying infrastructure – towers and under sea cables- to catalyse the development of other and new industries,’’ he said.

‘’If you use your smart phone which is made in China and order shoes from France and they are delivered to you at home, what have you actually gained? You are just a consumer,’’ he added.

The ex-CBN Governor argued that the same phone can be put to productive use, when it is used to shoot a Nollywood movie and the film clip is distributed.

Sanusi noted that the success of Nigeria’s pre-oil economy was based on the dynamism of its trading sector and the diversity of its export base, which ‘’meant that it was less vulnerable to terms of trade shock driven by any one export.”

Edited By: Maharazu Ahmed
Source: NAN
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General news

CYMS, Tonto Dikeh hail Rochas at 58




The Committee of Youth on Mobilisation and Sensitisation (CYMS) led by its Director General, Mr Obinna Nwaka has hailed Senator Rochas Okorocha on his 58th Birthday anniversary.

The organisation made this know in a statement and video released by Tonto Dikeh, the organisation’s Director, Socials and Empowerment and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday shortly after their meeting with the management of Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) in Abuja.

The actress and former singer described the Imo State former Governor as a leader per excellence, a philanthropist, giver of free education in Africa and father of fatherless.

Dikeh wished him success and blessings in all ramifications of his life.

She urged Nigerians to emulate his humanitarian gestures, which was in line with the programmes and activities of the organisation apart from promoting youth inclusion, policies and programmes of the government.

Edited By: Felix Ajide
Source: NAN
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COVID-19: FG receives 38,000 applications for N75bn MSME survival funds – Katagum



Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs Mariam Katagum, says government had received 38,000 applications for the N75 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) survival funds.

Katagum made this known in her opening remarks at a Business Advocacy Roundtable webinar by the

Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) on Tuesday.

According to her, the applications were coming in barely one day after the registration portal for the fund was opened on Sept. 21.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the webinar had as its theme: “Economic Recovery beyond COVID-19”.

She explained that N75 billion survival funds would serve 1.7 million beneficiaries across the country.

Katagum said the MSME survival funds with payroll support scheme for different sectors would start with educational institutions, followed by businesses in the hospitality industry and then small businesses.

She said that Kano had the highest number of applicants who had registered for the funds.

“The payroll would provide support between N30,000 and N50,000 for 500,000 vulnerable MSMEs to meet their obligations per employee over a duration of three months.

“A total of 250,000 new businesses will get free Corporate Affairs Commission business name registration,’’ the minister said.

According to her, 100,000 businesses affected by the pandemic will get N50,000 each and 330,000 artisans and transport business operators would get N30,000 to reduce the effect on loss of income.

“Already, we have received 33,000 applications by just opening the portal for registration yesterday and Kano has the highest number of applicants.

“As at this morning, we have received 38,000 applicants.’’

In his remarks, Mr Shubham Chaudhari, World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, said the pandemic had put the nation at a very critical juncture.

Chaudhari advised the nation’s response to go beyond the immediate crisis to exploiting the various opportunities that abound going forward.

He praised the government’s bold steps by its various economic sustainability and recovery plans.

He urged robust implementation and follow through to ensure the country floats through the pandemic.

He also called for a level playing field for all private businesses (small and large) to thrive.

“Nigeria has the potential to be one of the world’s largest economies.

“On the economic front, the population of Nigeria is young and can withstand the pandemic.

“The pandemic has provided opportunities that can be harnessed even in crisis.

“We would continue to provide bilateral and multilateral support to ensure trade channels are opened,’’ Chaudhari said.

Also, Mr Hamzat Subair, Executive Chairman, Lagos State Inland Revenue Service (LIRS) urged businesses to take advantage of current opportunities, which hitherto were not apparent.

Subair, represented by his Special Adviser, Tokunbo Akande said that Lagos had, during the pandemic, leveraged on technology to provide tax services to residents.

He urged business owners within the metropolis to take advantage of the state approved waivers and payments instalments plans suited to their business capabilities.

“Close to 80 per cent of business owners with access to telephone had access to tax services during the pandemic.

“Quite a number are also taking advantage of the various audits waivers, extended tax payments plans among other services the state is offering.

“We are also working on the multiplicity of tax interfaces to reduce the tax burdens on businesses in Lagos,’’ Subair said.

Edited By: Dorcas Jonah/Abdulfatah Babatunde
Source: NAN
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FG urges states to provide infrastructure for film industry devt.



The Federal Government on Monday called on states to provide necessary infrastructure for the growth of the film industry  to create wealth and employment for youths.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the call in Abuja while inaugurating the Steering Committee for the Reform and Commercialisation of the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC).

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Federal Government is partially commercialising the NFC to effectively discharge its mandate to plan, promote, organise and co-ordinate the development of the motion picture industry in the country.

Inaugurating the committee, the minister underscored the need for states to invest in  infrastructure to boost the film industry because of its potentials to create jobs and boost the economy

Relying on International Monetary Fund data, Mohammed said the Nigerian film industry, Nollywood, is the second largest employer of labour and contributed N893 billion to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2015.

The minister also noted that Nollywood could perform better if the needed infrastructure such as film houses and enabling environment were provided.

In a comparative analysis, the minister disclosed that Nigeria has only 142 cinema houses compared to South Africa with 782 cinema houses.

According to him, the US has  40,393 cinema houses while India and China have 11,209 and 50,976 cinema houses respectively.

“You cannot have a successful film industry without adequate cinema houses because the major revenue source of the industry is exhibition .

“The most successful film in Nigeria today is “Wedding Party 1 and 2”  that grossed about two million dollars within a week through the cinema houses.

“You can imagine  a gross of 2 million dollars using only 142 cinema houses, and how much the film would have grossed if we have about 1000 cinema houses for exhibition,” he said.

“That is why it is important to appeal to our state governments to invest in infrastructure in the  industry.

“I do not  think it will be too much  for the state government to ensure they build one cinema house in each local government area of their states to give us an additional 774 cinema houses in the country.

“In India, 14 million people attend cinema daily and I can imagine the impact it will have on the economy,” he said.

The minister also underscored the need for states to look into building purpose-built arenas for concerts and shows to encourage creative artists.

“I will advise state governments to look into having arenas in each senatorial district or one in the state capital.

“I do not know of any place where we have purpose-built arena today because most places where we have concerts are not purpose-built.

“We have artists in Nigeria that can sell out anywhere in the world;  Burna boy, Wiz Kid and Davido sold out in Arena 02 in London and in other big arenas over the world.

“The biggest arena in Nigeria which is not even purpose-built can only accommodate about 7000 people whereas the Arena 02 in London accommodates up to 20,000 people,” he said.

The minister also canvassed for easy acquisition of land and tax waivers for artistes and investors who would like to build cinema houses or invest generally in the industry.

He noted that apart from wealth and employment creation, promoting the film industry would help to build inclusion and reduce social tension.

The minister noted that the intention of the administration is to make Nigeria the capital of entertainment in Africa,

He said though the film industry had been largely driven by the private sector, the Federal Government had been supporting the industry by providing enabling environment and funding.

“In 2013, there was “Project Nollywood” in which the government made available to the sector about 17 million USD for the growth and promotion of the industry.

“I am also aware of the various multilateral injection of funds to this industry and we have also embarked on revolutionary reforms to reposition the industry,” he said.

Earlier, Mr Alex Okoh, the Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), said with the tremendous potentials of the film industry to reposition the nation’s economy, the government needed to play a prominent role.

Okoh said that the government was reforming the NFC to take the leading role in harnessing the potentials in the sector.

He, however, clarified that the reform process “is not a privatisation of the corporation but the commercialisation of this important enterprise and agency of government.”

“The clarification is that in this reform process, there is no transfer of ownership, no sale of shares and no privatisation of the entity.

“It is basically to ensure the resident value of the enterprise and its commercial viability,” he said.

He said the steering committee  being chaired by the minister would consider and approve the recommendations submitted by the project delivery team for the commercialisation of the corporation.

Other members of the steering committee inaugurated by the minister were Okoh, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mrs Grace Gekpe and the Managing Director of NFC, Chidia Maduekwe.

The Director Information and Communication of BPE, Dikko Mohammed, will serve as the Secretary of the committee.

Edited By: Mufutau Ojo)
Source: NAN
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