Hotels in Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa State have decried low patronage caused the advent of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.
Some of the hotel workers, who spoke when the team from the Media Advocacy West Africa (WAWA) Foundation, visited the area on Wednesday, counted their huge losses due to the lockdown ordered by government to contain the spread of the pandemic.
The News Agency of Nigeria , reports that MAWA Foundation, with support from Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), is implementing a project tagged “Human Right Abuse and Economic Impact of COVID-19 Lockdown in Communities”.
Miss Rita Uche, a staff member of Rovac Guest Inn, said the influx of customers to the hotel had reduced, lamenting that business was almost brought to its knees because of the pandemic.
She decried that before the pandemic, the business was doing well, but in the last three months, particularly during the lockdown, the organisation hardly made N500 daily.
She attributed the low patronage to guests’ fear of contracting the virus, as most people hardly used such public facilities again.
“Before the Coronavirus, we made money from sale of drinks, lodging, and our football viewing centre, but all that have stopped because of the outbreak of Coronavirus and we can’t make N500 a day.
“It is even worse as we are not making any money because of the pandemic, yet we are paying bills
“Before the pandemic, particularly at weekends, we hardly have vacant rooms in this hotel because they are usually booked by guests. But at the moment, the case is different and the business has since gone down.
“Customers no longer come to our hotel to lodge because they are afraid of contracting virus,” she said.
She, however, told MAWA Foundation that things were beginning to get better since the lockdown had been suspended and the commencement of foreign football matches.
On his part, Mr John Okoro of Bosvich hotel decried that the situation had rendered him “financially impotent”, because his salary was stopped by his employer.
Okoro, who said it was no fault of his employers, but due to biting economic situation occasioned by COVID-19, urged government act fast to save the situation.
“I have not received salary since COVID-19 started. Hunger wants to kill me and my family.
“So, I want to appeal to government to help the poor and vulnerable to come out of the difficulties they are facing as a result of the pandemic,” he urged.
Edited By: Polycarp Auta/Donald Ugwu (NAN)https://nnn.ng/covid-19-hotels-in-nasarawa-record-low-patronage/
NCC set to commence cost-based review of new rates for International voice calls services
Dr Ikechukwu Adinde, Director, Public Affairs, NCC, made this known in a statement on Monday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that ITR is the rate paid to local operators by international operators to terminate calls in Nigeria.
Adinde said that as part of the process for the rate determination, the Commission has organised a virtual stakeholders’ engagement forum with relevant industry stakeholders.
He said that the meeting was to intimate them about the ongoing cost-based study and the need to cooperate with Messrs Payday Advance and Support Services Limited, the consultants engaged to carry out the study.
Addressing the stakeholders, NCC Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said the study had become imperative following the various implementation constraints arising from contending industry and market dynamics that met previous efforts at finding an optimum price for the termination of international voice services in Nigeria.
Danbatta, said through the new ITR pricing, the Commission would be able to balance the competing objectives of economic efficiency and allowing operators the latitude to generate reasonable revenue.
He, however, explained that in 2013, the Commission issued a determination stating that Mobile Termination Rates (MTR) were the same irrespective of where the call originated from, adding that it was largely misconstrued by operators at that time that ITR should be the same rate as the MTR.
He said this led to operators ignoring the international cost portion, where ITRs were agreed at MTR level without a positive residual to cover the costs of the international leg for local operators.
“As a result of this, the ITRs continued to decline, in line with the MTR glide path and as the ITR was set in naira, it suffered a further downward slide in dollar terms following the currency devaluation.
“Ironically, the Nigerian operators paid the international operators in dollars to deliver international calls which created an imbalance of payments as the ITR in Nigeria declined,” he said.
Danbatta said Nigerian operators’ profitability and commercial results were negatively affected putting Nigeria’s ITR below that of most countries with which it made and received the most calls, thereby making Nigerian operators perpetual net payers.
“According to him, this has, therefore, led to undue pressure on the nation’s foreign reserves, which continued to get depleted by associated net transfers to foreign operators on account of this lop-sidedness.
“Hence the need for Nigeria, with volatile a currency to regulate the ITR to prevent or mitigate the imbalance of payments with international operators.
“Where ITR is not properly regulated, it tends to have negative effect on a market like Nigeria with major supply side challenges and associated socio-economic implications. So, setting a rate substantially above the MTR has resulted in a number of repercussions.
“One of such is the consumer shift to online channels as calls are increasingly made through Internet Protocol (IP)-based technologies such as Skype and WhatsApp because of high international call prices.
“To this end, an economically-efficient ITR that is cost-based will maximise economic benefits to all stakeholders,” he said.
Earlier in her remarks,NCC Director, Policy, Competition and Economic Analysis, Mrs Yetunde Akinloye, said the forum was aimed at formally engaging with and sharing the perspectives and insights of industry stakeholders.
Akinloye said that it was also for ultimately enlisting their collective support in relation to the inputs and requirements towards the determination of a mutually- realistic ITR in Nigeria.
She noted that the project commenced on March 10, with a kick-off meeting but was stalled by the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, necessitating the need to explore emerging channels of engagement to move forward and ensure the completion of the project.
Akinloye reiterated the Commission’s commitment to continuously provide a conducive environment and level-playing field for the effective interplay of factors that would sustain market development and growth.
“This is addition to ensuring the provision of qualitative and efficient telecommunications regulatory services for the benefit of consumers and licensees,” she said.
Edited By: Ali Baba-Inuwa
NCDC, NIMR, partners to conduct COVID-19 antibody tests in 4 states
Abuja, Sept. 21, The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Nigeria Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) and their partners are conducting anti-bodies household surveys in four states in Nigeria.
Speaking at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on Monday in Abuja, the Director general of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu said the tests are being conducted to better understand the burden of COVID-19 infection in Nigeria.
“These seroprevalence surveys, which will be carried out in Gombe, Enugu, Nasarawa and Lagos states would provide the best evidence yet, on the extent of COVID-19 infection in the country.
“The seroprevalence surveys are used to identify the occurrence of disease in a population by estimating the presence of antibodies in individuals who have had the disease.
“This is done by testing blood samples in randomly selected households in selected states.
“In addition to this, study participants will also have a rapid malaria test and receive treatment if the test is positive,” he said.
Ihekweazu, said, this is the first set of household surveys to be conducted for COVID-19 in Nigeria and as part of ongoing public health research activities.
“The surveys will increase the current understanding of COVID-19 transmission patterns, the burden of infection in the population, and the age groups most affected.
“This information will help inform COVID-19 response decisions by the Government of Nigeria and partners as part of measures towards ending the pandemic.
” The surveys will also estimate the proportion of people who have COVID-19 but are not showing any symptoms, that is asymptomatic.
“Through this, the country can identify risk factors for infection and measure the transmission of COVID-19 within households,” he explained.
By administering rapid malaria tests, he said, the surveys will also assess malaria infections and their possible relationship to SARS-CoV-2 infection.
The results from the surveys, he added, will inform the response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Nigeria.
He also stated that the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (US-CDC) and the University College London (supported by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) are supporting the NCDC and NIMR in implementing these surveys.
The News Agency of Nigeria, reports that the surveys will be conducted between September and November, and preliminary results are expected to be released by December 2020.
Edited By: Sadiya Hamza https://nnn.ng/ncdc-nimr-partners-to-conduct-covid-19-antibody-tests-in-4-states/
COVID-19: PTF warns against neglect of protocols
He said that there were increasing disregard for basic non-pharmaceutical measures that have proven to be very successful.
He said face masks have now been turned into chin masks, social distancing and gatherings are returning to the pre-COVID era.
Mustapha, however, called for vigilance in order to forestall any danger of second wave of the pandemic as the countries in Europe were currently facing.
According to him, the call for greater vigilance is underscored by the fact that our economy has been seriously affected by the pandemic and we are pushing through our home-grown economic recovery strategies to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic.
” Also, our health systems, in spite of its fragility, have been able to withstand and contain cases resulting from COVID-19 infection, where those of more advanced countries have been overwhelmed.
“This call is made more pertinent in view of the noticeably increasing disregard for basic non-pharmaceutical measures that have proven very successful.
“Face masks have now been turned into chin masks, social distancing and gatherings are returning to the pre-COVID era,” he said.
Speaking on the second wave of the virus across the world, the PTF chairman said, “Israel has re-introduced a three-week lockdown, the United Kingdom was considering another lockdown phase, Spain was enforcing a partial lockdown in Madrid and France – amidst protests by its citizens.
“They have also introduced stricter measures to contain the virus. Similar stories are coming from South Korea, Iran and the number of fatalities is approaching 200,000 in the USA.
“The World Health Organisation(WHO), has advised that everybody should learn from lessons of the first wave, especially as ‘no one is safe until everyone is safe’.
“Let me share with you a global picture to buttress the foregoing. Over the last three days, the global cases passed the 31 million mark and it took only four days to get there from the 30th million.
“The USA crossed 7 million cases and continues to report a high daily caseload of over 30, 000 daily. We continue to see highest daily numbers from India.
“More specifically, the lesson for us in Nigeria, is that in spite of appreciable progress recorded, we should be vigilant more than ever before, because we have opened our air spaces to international travels, we have relaxed a number of restrictions in opening up more sectors of the economy and schools are beginning to open in varying degrees.”
On the reopening of airports for international travels, Mustapha noted that the PTF would continue to work with partners from the private sector to fine tune the protocols for international travellers, especially those arriving in Nigeria.
He, however, urged all travellers to ensure that they complete all pre-boarding and post-arrival processes, especially on the portal to facilitate seamless arrivals at the airports.
“We cannot afford the importation of the virus.
“We appeal strongly to all Nigerians to persuade their relations arriving Nigeria to self-isolate upon arrival, as required and test on day seven as prescribed,”
Edited By: Felix Ajide
Osinbajo, UNN students discuss technology, innovation
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday had a virtual interaction with students from both the university and the secondary school in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka(UNN) campus.
Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement in Abuja, said the Vice President featured at the virtual conference of the Centre for Lion Gadgets and Technologies, UNN.
The theme of the conference is “Technological Innovation for Holistic Sustainable Development.”
The Vice President said that deploying technology and innovation to address emerging challenges would be crucial to the country’s recovery from the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We must creatively imagine and pioneer our way out.
“We are in one of the worst health and economic crises in living memory and our recovery must be innovative – we must employ never-before-seen methods to fight the never-before-seen plethora of issues before us.
“Whether we are discussing the delivery of social services to vulnerable communities and promoting financial inclusion or we are talking about boosting agricultural productivity and promoting the security of our communities, how we harness technology is crucial.
“The future will be decided in groups such as yours, where young Nigerians are actively thinking about how to deploy technology in creative ways for problem-solving.”
Osinbajo said that such innovative ideas must be deployed in a manner that was inclusive and accessible to all Nigerians including the poor and vulnerable.
He said that recently, the Nigeria Climate Innovation Center concluded its Climate LaunchPad, and some very innovative ideas were unveiled.
According to him, one of the innovator companies, New Digits, generates power from water.
“The product uses water and conformed solar cells to generate energy for electricity and cooking.
“It actually works by collecting water automatically from any piping channel in the house, breaks down the water into Hydrogen which is used to cook and to power the entire house without the need for batteries of any kind.”
The Vice President also cited PowerStove Energy, founded by three young Nigerians, Okey, Abdulazeez and Glory.
He said that the trio produced a low-cost, clean smokeless cookstove.
“PowerStove Energy is the first clean cookstove to be fitted with self-powered Internet of Things (IoT) cloud system to monitor in real-time, every day that cooking is done, the amount of Co2 that is used and biomass saved, black carbon prevented and total electricity generated.
“All of that is monitored in real-time every day.’’
Osinbajo pledged the support of the Federal Government to universities especially in enhancing their capacity for research and innovation.
He said that the Federal Government was prepared but the university needed to do more by being proactive in the links with industry.
“Industry, as you know, is interested in commerce. If it will make profit and money, industry is interested.
“I think that a lot of the innovations we are seeing are certainly profitable and can be lucrative. But where government can come in is where there are needs for additional support to make the research easier or cheaper for the public to access.
“So, I certainly look forward to the cooperation between the Federal Government and the University of Nigeria.
“In education too, Covid-19 has showed us just how adaptive we can be and there are a number of ed-tech firms such as uLesson, where students can take lessons and tests on an app.
“If scaled, this could revolutionise how we approach challenges with access to education.’’
He said that the Federal Government had started the Students Innovation Challenge for all universities in Nigeria.
“We came as far as the University of Nigeria, Nsukka; there is a hub called the Genesis Hub where the competition took place for the South East.
“Three winners emerged from the University of Nsukka; and each of them got N1 million, and there were 25 of them that emerged winners at the competition.
“The Innovation Challenge is our commitment; we are committed to ensuring that innovation is done on a continuous basis,” he said.
Earlier in his remark, the Vice Chancellor of UNN, Prof. Charles Igwe, said the university had prioritised the deployment of technology in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Other participants at the conference included former Governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi, Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, the Most Rev. Paulinus Eze-Okafor, among others.
Edited By: Ismail Abdulaziz