The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continued to rise at a fast pace in South Africa in the past 24 hours amid preparations to ease lockdown restrictions, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Friday.
The cumulative number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Africa was 27,403 as of Thursday, up by 1,466 from the previous day, according to figures released by Mkhize early Friday.
“Regrettably, we report 25 more COVID-19 related deaths,” Mkhize said. “This brings the total national deaths to 577.”
One of the latest deaths was that of an employee at the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS), who was confirmed with COVID-19 a few weeks ago, was thereafter admitted to hospital and finally succumbed to the virus on Thursday.
“We are deeply saddened by these news and wish to send words of comfort to her family and thank them for having allowed their loved one to serve the country during this difficult time,” Mkhize said.
While encouraging other NHLS employees, Mkhize assured them of the government’s commitment to providing the personal protective equipment (PPE) required and ensuring that the workplace protocols observe all the safety measures to mitigate the risk of the frontline employees getting infected.
Mkhize said the country’s recovery rate was 52.4 percent.
To date, there were 14,370 recoveries nationwide, he said.
South Africa, he said, continues to see the number of tests increasing rapidly and they consist of those who present to hospitals/laboratories (passive cases) and those who are identified for testing through the screening process.
In the past 24 hours, 20,727 tests were conducted, bringing the total number to
655,723, the minister said.
He also made reference to a backlog of 30,000 tests that had not been allocated.
This illustrates that the number of tests conducted versus the specimens collected but not yet processed fluctuates on a daily basis, according to Mkhize.
“As we have previously explained, this challenge is caused by the limited availability of test kits globally,” he said.
Priority is being given to processing specimens that are received from patients who are admitted in hospital and healthcare workers, Mkhize said.
South Africa continues to engage suppliers all over the world and have issued licenses as part of mitigating this capacity challenge, he said.
The latest development came as South Africa gets ready to move to level-three lockdown regulations on June 1, allowing 9 million people to return to work as most of the economic sectors resume operations.
Schools reopening: Gov. Ganduje lauds FG’s level of preparation
Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State has commended the Federal Government for progress recorded and measures taken toward reopening of schools in the country.
Hassan Fage, Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy Governor, said this in a statement on Sunday in Kano.
The governor described the federal government’s policies and programmes in education as veritable tools to national development.
He said: “the progress recorded and measures taken by Buhari led administration in reopening of Schools in the country is commendable.
“I wish to acknowledge the commitment of the federal government in the education sector, particularly at this time when schools are about to be reopened,” he said.
Represented by his Deputy, Alhaji Nasiru Gawuna, Ganduje made the assertion while receiving the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, who visited him in his office.
Ganduje also said the state government was committed to prioritising the education sector in view of its importance.
Hr said fumigation had been conducted with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) provided to the schools across the state.
“As part of compliance with the COVID-19 protocols for ensuring safety and protection of the teaching staff and the students ahead of the reopening of schools, fumigation has been conducted with PPE provided to the schools across the state.
“The state government recently released the sum of N880 million for the renovation of some schools across the State, ” he said.
The Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba said he was in Kano for the North West Stakeholders meeting to review the guidelines and protocols for reopening of schools.
He further said during the visit that he would also assess the facilities in the schools with a view to making them functional.
The minister also commended the efforts of the Kano government for its laudable initiatives in promoting education, which he described as worthy of emulation by other states.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Felix Ajide
Recapitalisation: AIICO not resting in its drive — MD
Fajemirokun said that the firm’s current capital base was N11.6 billion and it hoped to increase this to N15.02 billion after the rights issue and bonus issue by the end of the year.
This, he said, would bring them closer to the NAICOM new capital requirement of N18 billion by 2021.
“Rationale for the rights issue is, NAICOM, last year, increased the regulatory capital requirements for insurance industry to N18 billion, from N9 billion.
“AIICO has not rested, we have been focused on three strategies, first is private placement, successfully executed in January which raised N5.3 billion and increased our capital base from N6.3 billion to N11.6 billion.
“Of course, we had a shortfall from this, which will be raised through the rights issue and bonus issue. We applied the private placement to the loan or convertible loan repayment to the IFC, which we are currently executing.
“Also, we have investment in technology, human capital, plant and equipment and we also launched the facts behind the offer and rights issue to raise N3.48 billion, which started on Sept. 2.
“It will increase our capital base from N11.6 billion to N15.1billion, which will be deployed to two ways, technology and PPE.
“The board recommended the bonus issue which will involve capitalising some of our retain earnings with the proposed term of one share for every five shares to shareholders as at third December 2020,” Fajemirokun said.
According to him, the new capital requirement of N18 billion is due in 2021, and after the bonus issue, AIICO will be at N16.02 billion.
“The key impact will ensure that we are able to underwrite big transactions, especially in aviation and oil and gas, earn market confidence and bring us closer to meet the new requirement.
“So, at the end of this rights issue, AIICO would have met the current capital requirement which is 50 per cent (N9 billion)
“Why stakeholders should invest in the rights issue is because AIICO’s current capitalisation as at Sept. 7 was about N10.2 billion, because we have got a diversified business with a life and non-life business with complimentary business in health, pensions, asset management and others.
“We have 9 to 10 per cent market share based on gross premiums as at 2018. We have shown solid growth in our compounded annual growth rate for our total asset, total equity, PAT as well as dividend per share,” he said.
Mr Oscar Onyema, Chief Executive Officer, NSE said that the rights issue presented shareholders an opportunity to support AIICO insurance with a balance sheet, increased efficiency and repositioning to increase market share.
He said that the ultimate aim of the rights issue was to improve shareholders’ returns.
Onyema, who was represented by Mr Olumide Bolumole, said that NSE would continue to position itself as the African exchange of choice.
He said it would continue to assist listed companies to achieve their business objectives.
Mr Dipo Williams, representing the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers, said that AIICO had been one of the stock market’s good companies that had been listed since 1990.
Williams said that AIICO insurance had seen the benefits of the market and this was why it was back for more rights issue.
He assured the firm that the stockbroking community would always support them.
At the end of the webinar, Mr Oladeji Oluwatola, Chief Operating Officer of AIICO rang the closing gong to close the market.
Edited By: Oluwole Sogunle
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
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