The credit rating agency Fitch Ratings has graded Mongolia’s long-term foreign-currency issuer default rating at “B” with a stable outlook, Mongolia’s central bank said Friday, citing a report from the agency.
In its report, Fitch said Mongolia’s commodity-dependent economy this year is facing a sharp slowdown in its gross domestic product (GDP) and export growth, deterioration in public finances, and erosion in external buffers due to the COVID-19 shock.
Nevertheless, the rating reflects Fitch’s belief that the impact will be largely temporary, with the economy rebounding strongly and government debt and GDP starting to decline again in 2021, the report said.
The agency said significant downside risks are captured at the B rating level, and Mongolia’s strong structural factors combined with expected access to financing from multilateral and bilateral creditors provide support to the sovereign ratings.
Fitch has forecasted the economy will contract by 2 percent in 2020, before rebounding to 7.9 percent in 2021.
Facebook announces opening of new office in Lagos
Facebook on Friday said it would be opening an office in Lagos, Nigeria, as part of its continued commitment and ongoing investment in Africa.
Facebook, in a statement made available to newsmen in Lagos, said this would be its second office on the African continent.
It said the opening of the new office was aimed at supporting the entire Sub-Saharan Africa region.
The office, it said, was expected to become operational in 2021.
According to Facebook, it will be the first on the continent to house a team of expert engineers building for the future of Africa and beyond.
It said the office would be home to various teams servicing the continent from across the business, including Sales, Partnerships, Policy, Communications as well as Engineers.
Commenting, Ime Archibong, Facebook’s Head of New Product Experimentation, said: “The opening of our new office in Lagos, Nigeria presents new and exciting opportunities in digital innovations to be developed from the continent and taken to the rest of the world.
“All across Africa, we are seeing immense talent in the tech ecosystem and I am proud that with the upcoming opening of our new office, we will build products for the future of Africa, and the rest of the world, with Africans at the helm.
“We look forward to contributing further to the African tech ecosystem.
“The investment of the new Facebook office follows the 2018 opening of NG_Hub, its first flagship community hub space in Africa.
“The hub was opened in partnership with CcHub, and the 2019 opening of a Small Business Group (SBG) Operations Centre in Lagos, in partnership with Teleperformance, “Archibong said.
Kojo Boakye, Facebook’s Director of Public Policy, Africa said that the new office in Nigeria presents an important milestone which further reinforces the company’s ongoing commitment to the region.
“Our mission in Africa is no different from other parts of the world, which is to build community and bring the world closer together.
“I am excited about the possibilities that this will create, not just in Nigeria, but across Africa,” Boakye said.
The policy director said since the opening of its first office in 2015, Facebook had made a number of investments across the continent, aimed at supporting and growing the tech ecosystem.
Boakye noted that the support includes the recent rollout of its SMB Grants programme in Nigeria and South Africa.
He said thia was aimed at supporting over 900 businesses by providing a combination of cash and ad credits to help small businesses as they rebuild from COVID.
Nunu Ntshingila, Regional Director, Facebook Africa, said: “We are delighted to be announcing our new office in Nigeria.
” Five years on from opening our first office on the continent in Johannesburg, South Africa, we will continue to invest in and support local talent, as well as the various communities that use our platforms.
“The office in Lagos will also be key in helping to expand how we service our clients across the continent,” Ntshingila said.
Edited By: Oluwole Sogunle
FG, LASG inaugurates Eko MSME Fashion Hub-1
The Federal Government and the Lagos State Government on Friday inaugurated Eko Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Fashion Hub-1 at Old Alade Market, Ikeja, Lagos.
Speaking virtually during the inauguration, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, reiterated President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s commitment to supporting the growth and development of MSMEs in the country.
Osinbajo said with the launch of the Eko MSME Fashion Hub-1, MSMEs in and around Ikeja would no longer have to travel far to use the equipment.
According to him, the fashion equipment are expensive for individual businesses to procure by themselves, hence, the need for the fashion hub.
”With the full scale production line, this hub will enable production of a diverse range of clothing and garments, wedding dresses, office dress.
”Very soon, the products of the hub will be ubiquitous on the streets and will be sourced around the country.
”The fashion industry will be one of Nigeria’s biggest sources of revenue.
”The shared facility scheme which we are launching today and this particular one seeks to provide high quality operating equipment which small businesses can access at a reasonable cost.
”It help reduce operating cost for users, allowing them to invest their savings in expanding their businesses and hiring more staff
”MSMEs are the engine for Nigeria’s economy because when they thrive, the country thrives and when they struggle, the country struggles,” he said.
The vice president said plans were also ongoing to commission similar facilities at Kaduna, Anambra and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) before the end of the year.
According to him, the Fashion Hub 1 was expected to serve 380 Small and Medium Enterprises daily.
Osinbajo said that the federal government was committed to ensuring that MSMEs thrived through access to credit from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Development Bank of Nigeria and Bank of Industry (BoI).
He charged other state governments and the Organised Private Sector to emulate initiatives that would engender the development of MSME across the country.
Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said that in spite of the efforts of the small and medium enterprises, only about 40 per cent ever survive beyond five years.
Sanwo-Olu said that this made it impossible for the small businesses to contribute their quota to the country’s socio-economic growth on a sustainable basis.
He said that the shared facility that was being commissioned and handed over to the community was certainly a step in the right direction.
According to him, it is a win-win situation for everybody as it shows the progressive dedication to the eradication of poverty and the economic emancipation of the people
”We are here to witness the implementation of an innovative strategy that is expected to re-energise the fashion industry, stimulate creativity, and also create employment opportunities for our teeming population.
”The destiny of several Lagosians is about to positively change because of this facility. This is the beginning of many victories over unemployment and poverty,” the government said.
Also, Mrs Mariam Katagum, Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, said the shared facility would provide a conducive environment for the SME space.
Katagum said that the initiative was one of the key take aways of the MSME clinic chaired by the vice president.
She said that shared facilities were effective tools that could address infrastructure challenges, which had hindered the growth of SMEs.
The minister commended the Lagos State Government for the laudable initiative, particularly at this time when support for SMEs was critical amid the pandemic.
Dr Lola Akande, Lagos State Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, said that the centre was the first phase of the shared MSME Fashion facility.
Akande said that the facility was equipped with state-of-the-art machinery such as industrial button-hole machines, monogram machines, among others.
”This would serve for suits and shirts, tinko machines, straight sewing industrial machines, industrial embroidery machines, amongst others, to afford MSMEs in the fashion space the opportunity to utilise them for a token,” she said.
The commissioner said that the facility would also enhance productivity of quality apparel capable of competing favourably globally.
”In so doing, skilled and semi-skilled fashion designers who ordinarily would be thwarted by prohibitive start-up expenses are availed the privilege of access to these industrial machines for a token.
”This is aimed at ultimately creating jobs, boosting trade and commerce, improving income and increasing GDP as a corollary.
”This centre is also intended for capacity building and continued upskilling of those in the fashion industry; after all, education is known to be a life-long process,” she said.
The Managing Director, Access Bank Plc, Mr Herbert Wigwe, while acknowledging the outstanding growth of the Nigerian fashion industry, reaffirmed the bank’s commitment to grow the nation’s fashion industry.
”We will continue to partner with the fashion industry, because we believe it will boost local growth of SMEs in that space,” Wigwe said.
Edited By: Wale Ojetimi
Ministry to intensify awareness on importance of ozone layer protection
The Minister of the Environment, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, on Friday said the ministry would intensify its awareness on the importance of the protection of the ozone layer through the effective collaboration of relevant stakeholders.
Abubakar made this known at a ministerial briefing on the commemoration of 2020 International Day for Preservation of Ozone Layer with the theme, “Ozone for Life,’’ in Abuja.
He said that the ministry was also committed to the training and monitoring of technicians in the affected sectors on ozone-friendly technologies.
The Minister said the theme has two connotations that needed a healthy ozone layer to protect lives and the environment, as well as safeguarding future generations to come.
Abubakar said that the ministry, in collaboration with the United Nation Development Programme, (UNDP), the United Nation Industrial Development Organisation, (UNIDO), the World Bank and the UN Environment Programme, were the agencies implementing Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS).
“In line with the protocol`s ODS phase out schedule, we have assisted over 600 large, Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises in the foam, refrigeration and air conditioning, aerosols, fire protection and solvent sectors.
“The assistance is to convert to ozone-friendly substances and technologies.
“This resulted in 100 per cent phase out of over 4,000 metric tonnes of ODS, with high ozone depletion potentials.
“About 26 institutions, (polytechnics and government technical colleges) were identified and equipped to serve as training centres on good refrigeration practices.
“We have also trained the trainers from the identified centres and developed training manuals on good refrigeration practices.
“These have led to the training of more than 10,000 refrigeration technicians in the refrigeration servicing sector.
He said that the ODS phase out activities were achieved with support from the multilateral fund for the implementation of the Montreal protocol.
Abubakar noted that the ministry was implementing the protocol`s Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFCs) project.
He said that the project was targeted at phasing out HCFCs gases R-22 and 141b, mainly used in Nigeria as refrigerants and blowing agents in the refrigeration, air conditioning and foam sectors respectively.
The minister said that the ministry was committed in the implementation of multilateral environmental agreements that the country was a party to.
According to him, the upgrade of a system house at Vitapur Nigeria Ltd (a subsidiary of vitafoam Nig. Ltd), for the formulation of ozone friendly systems in the manufacture of rigid polyurethane foam was completed in 2019.
“I am glad to inform Nigerians that I will be commissioning this particular project on Sept. 22.
“The plant which is one of the two such in Africa, the other being in South Africa, will supply ozone friendly substances to downstream end-users in the rigid polyurethane foam sector.
He said that the benefit of the project was to provide ozone friendly and low global warning potential blowing agent in the production of rigid foam.
The Minister said the ministry would be engaging in capacity building activities on maintenance and servicing of space cooling to avoid spread of COVID 19 while minimising impacts of energy efficiency and climate.
He said the ministry was currently preparing to commence the implementation of stage 2 of the Hydrochlorofurocarbons Phase Management Plan (HPMP).
The Minister added that the government of Italy has offered support as a bilateral partner.
Abubakar said that the stage 2 was built upon the achievement of the previous stage, aimed at achieving the complete phase out of HCFC-141b in foam related applications.
He explained that Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer was adopted in 1985 and entered into force in 1988.
The Minister added that the binding instrument to ensure compliance with the provisions of the convention was also adopted on Sept. 16, 1987, which became the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer.
“Since then, Sept. 16 has been set aside to commemorate the international day for the preservation of the ozone layer by the global community, in line with the UN General Assembly Resolution,’’.
The minister, however, appreciated the efforts of UNDP, UNIDO, World Bank, UN Environment, the government of Italy and other relevant agencies for their support and cooperation in the implementation of projects.
Earlier, Mr Jean Bakole, Country Representative and Regional Director of UNIDO, said that the office would continue to support the government in promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialisation development.
Bakole, who was represented by Mr Oluyomi Banjo, an environment expert in the UNIDO, thanked the minister on the achievement of all the projects across the country.
Edited By: Idonije Obakhedo
CSOs canvass better deal for African wildlife in COVID-19 policies
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the AWF is an umbrella body for alliance of over 80 African Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working in conservation as the African CSOs Biodiversity Alliance (ACBA).
Chief Executive Officer of Obudu Conservation Centre (OCC) Nela Duke-Ekpenyong, member, policy working group of the coalition made this known in a statement on Thursday in Lagos.
She said that the group would continue to ensure better life for wildlife even as the world grappled with effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said an online meeting of the group on ‘How COVID-19 Affected Policies on Wildlife”, was part of the group’s strategy as an alliance, aimed at engaging with the development of post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework in a manner that reflected the values, rights, priorities and needs of the African people.
She said that in April 2020, her wildlife NGO dedicated to protecting, restoring and increasing awareness of the wild lands and wildlife on the Obudu Plateau and surroundings in Cross River National Park, also joined the communications and policy working group of ACBA.
Duke-Ekpenyong, who supported the coalition by managing the external communications of the alliance and assisting with the country-level engagement in Nigeria, said OCC also liaised with media platforms to promote ACBA’s campaign.
She disclosed that she produced a case study on ‘Wildlife Community Forest Reserves, Pastoralism, and Water Rehabilitation’ to influence the Convention on Biodiversity’s Framework on Sustainable Use.
According to her, we are currently running an African- wide campaign to draw attention to zoonotic diseases, tourism and conservation.
“We are presently out to increase awareness and my involvement is for the Obudu conservation centre, which is part of the ACBA.
“As the group continues with its six-week campaign, the organisation acknowledges that engaging the public on the linkage between nature and health systems is vital now more than ever.
“To effectively communicate this scientific phenomenon, multi-lingual info-graphics are complementing efforts to ensure a better grasp of how zoonotic diseases are transmitted and how everyone can play a role to ensure that we avert another pandemic.
“In a bid to raise awareness on zoonosis, ACBA has organised a campaign comprising of webinar series and info-graphics. The final webinar for the #OurNatureOurHealth campaign is almost here,” she said.
She said the group also worked alongside a team of leading conservationists and organisations in discussions with the China CSOs and Latin American COICA group to bring together, the voice of the global south to influence the post-2020 CBD Framework.
“It includes how Africa’s biodiversity thrives and underpins equitable, socially economically resilient livelihoods based on the rights of people to sustainably use their natural resources,” she said.
She, however said that ACBA had engaged the African Union Commission and United Nation’s General Assembly’s Biodiversity Summit.
“Over the past five weeks, we have been running the zoonosis campaign that ends in two weeks, educating Africans about zoonosis, their effects on the economy, human health and animal health.
“While on social media we have focused on the zoonosis campaign, behind the scenes, we are crafting policy submissions to the convention on Biological Diversity, in order to influence the post-2020 global biodiversity framework as our main goal is to strengthen the African civil society voice in the CBD,” she added.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Ismail Abdulaziz