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Tuesday, June 30, 2020


The impact of Coronavirus or COVID-19 on the food security and agriculture in Nigeria is already being felt, says PwC Nigeria, reports NaijaAgroNet.

PwC in its latest report available to 
NaijaAgroNet, noted that with COVID-19, the challenges hampering the attainment of food security in Nigeria could deepen.

“The impact is already being felt in the form of rising food prices,” part of the report stated.

Also, it said that as at April 2020, food inflation rose to 15 per cent compared to 14.7 per cent in December 2019.

“To ensure that the agricultural sector is not further impacted by the distortions caused by COVID-19, the government should ensure more palliatives are provided to farmers in the form of improved seedlings, basic farm implements at highly subsidized prices, and free or more affordable farm extension services.

PwC equally noted that of importance is the need to ensure that the sector is accorded more budgetary allocations in line with the Maputo declaration, increase the operational capacity of the strategic grain reserves, and reintroduction of farming clusters to be financed through Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.

In addition, the report pointed out that state governments should reassess their area of core competence in the agriculture value chain and promote investment in that area.

Highlights of the report include challenges in the agriculture sector before COVID-19, policy measures for agribusiness, the impact of COVID-19 on Nigeria’s agricultural value chain, recommendations for improving agribusiness post COVID-19, and case studies for using innovation to boost agribusiness.

Isaac Oyimah/Editor

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Building purpose-driven businesses is key to economic empowerment

Earlier this month and following the death of George Floyd, SoftBank announced a $100m investment fund for minority-owned businesses. 

The Opportunity Fund will invest only in companies led by people of color, and is the first such fund to be created in response to growing protests, in the US and worldwide, against racism and lack of equal opportunities for black people. While the initiative is not the first of its kind in the US or abroad (South Africa has several financial institutions dedicated to providing financial support to black entrepreneurs), its significance is much stronger now.

The US is in fact home to several financial institutions dedicated to supporting low- and moderate-income communities of color. However, as their relevance grows in the wake of the current crisis, their number has been steadily declining over the past years. One of the oldest such institution still in business today is the Unity National Bank. It is Texas’ only black-owned bank and an example of what purpose-driven businesses can accomplish for their communities and their country.

The Unity National Bank was established in the early 1960s and has since then supported the banking and capital needs of low- and moderate-income communities across Texas. While it used to operate in a banking industry with 47 African American-controlled banks in the early 2000s, the recession of 2008 took its toll on its peers. In 2019, the US had only 22 remaining black-owned banks.

Since 2005, the Unity National Bank is majority-owned by Nigeria-born oil executive Kase Lawal and his family. Kase Lawal is also Chairman of CAMAC International and seen as one of the few successful black entrepreneur in the energy sector, which remains an industry widely dominated by white men. He currently serves as Board Chairman of the Unity National Bank and, under his leadership, the bank has been able to weather the storm since 2008 and keep expanding. In 2018, it opened in Atlanta, its first expansion beyond the state of Texas, in order to consolidate and serve the African American community better.

Its lending program is focused on supporting and rebuilding its community, especially via commercial and mortgage loans. Unity National Bank has forged a network of partners and agents that are able to support the very core of its activities, from lending to supporting financial literacy across community.

While the bank, like other African American-owned banks, has struggled in recent years due to its smaller size and financial performances, its management is putting the foundations in place for the business to continue growing. It recently partnered with Citigroup and introduced a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which reportedly allowed the saving of 3,000 jobs. The PPP loans, acclaimed for their support to small black-owned businesses, even earned Unity National Bank a visit by Vice President Mike Pence this year.

“Kase Lawal is real, a legend. He is an improbable driver for black empowerment through entrepreneurship, even as most people never saw him coming and counted him out. I am not surprised that he will rise to the occasion, walk the walk and execute during these times when our communities are dealing with the scourge of Covid19 and difficult economic conditions,” stated NJ Ayuk Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber. “His humanity and humility lets him walk with the little guy and still keep his virtue. He may seat with Presidents and Ministers yet never loses the common touch or forgets where he came from. He is always thinking about the poor and the upward mobility of those who have not been dealt a fair hand by our economy,” added Mr Ayuk.

Now that the Covid-19 pandemic has taken its toll on American jobs and lives, and even more so for African American communities, and at a time when the world calls for better support to black entrepreneurs and businesses, the Kase Lawal-chaired institution is set to benefit. It remains one of the few institutions in the US with a true purpose of working with communities and linking their fate together to create a better future for African American families and gives countless of talented young women and men the means to build a successful future.

As the world seeks new ways to build equal societies, developing successful business models that promote equal opportunities and bring much-needed capital to talented communities is becoming the need of the hour. In doing so, looking at black-owned banks and businesses and learning from their experience would prove very beneficial. Beyond looking at pure business principles and balance sheets fundamentals, these companies are driven by a true social purpose which could well be the kind of basis the world needs to build fairer societies.

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Monday, June 29, 2020

HP committed to sustainable development, releases 2019 impact report - NaijaAgroNet


HP Inc has reaffirmed its commitment to eliminating 75 per cent of single-use plastic packaging by 2025, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The company restated the commitment in its just-released 2019 Sustainable Impact Report, which also highlights the progress HP is making to drive diversity and inclusion, as well as strengthen communities globally.

“The HP culture has long been built on the belief that how we do things is just as important as what we do. Recent events have laid bare the systemic racism and deep inequalities that remain a stain on society, and it’s imperative for all companies to act with urgency on all fronts,” said Enrique Lores, HP President and CEO.

“It’s especially important for companies to hold themselves accountable and publicly report their progress,” Lores continued. “This year’s data shows that HP is making significant strides forward in many areas, while also revealing where we must do better. For example, the number of African American employees is below where it needs to be, and we are taking actions to improve. While we have a lot of hard work ahead, our values-driven culture that unites our teams and our partners gives me confidence in our ability to accelerate our progress and foster a more sustainable, equitable, and just society.”

As part of these commitments, HP announced a new goal to eliminate 75 percent of single-use plastic packaging by 2025, supporting the company’s efforts to drive a low-carbon, circular economy.

Efforts to make a sustainable impact on people, the planet and communities are integrated into HP’s business strategy and operations, and have become an increasingly important driver of customer purchasing decisions. HP’s Sustainable Impact efforts helped drive more than $1.6 billion in sales wins in 2019, up an estimated 69 percent, reflecting the growing business imperative for companies to lead with purpose.

The goal focuses on hardware unit packaging and is predicated on a move to moulded fibre packaging cushions. HP’s environmental packaging strategy aims to eliminate unnecessary plastics and materials of concerns wherever possible.

For instance, in 2019, HP decided to eliminate power cord plastic ties and plastic document bags in hardware packaging. HP also has shifted to more recyclable, paper-based alternatives. To accelerate this shift, the company is transitioning from plastic foam packaging cushions to those made with 100 per cent recycled, moulded pulp for HP’s notebooks, desktops and displays. The transition to moulded fibre Personal Systems packaging cushions eliminated 933 tonnes of hard-to-recycle expanded plastic foam last year.

In Printing, HP reduced plastic foam by 40 per cent and eliminated over 95 tonnes of the material in 2019 just by redesigning the packaging of a printer model.

Launched in 2019, the HP Tango Terra is HP’s first printer with zero plastic packagings, using a combination of moulded fibre cushions and glassine paper to replace the typical plastic foam and bag.

In 3D printing, HP recently announced the availability of a new material called polypropylene (PP), that helps reduce waste by enabling up to 100 per cent reusability of surplus powder.

HP has also sourced more than 60 million bottles of ocean-bound plastic and launched the world’s first notebook, display, mobile workstation and enterprise Chromebook made using ocean-bound plastics.

With 111 Gold and 268 Silver EPEAT-registered products – more than any other company in the IT industry, HP has the world’s most sustainable PC portfolio.

Aside from the environment, HP has also committed to diversity and inclusion at all levels of the company while fighting racial inequality, announcing a new goal to double the number of Black and African American executives inside the company by 2025.

The Company’s Board of Directors continues to be the most diverse of any U.S. technology company, comprised of 42 per cent women and 58 per cent minorities. In 2019, 63 per cent of U.S. hires were from underrepresented groups, including women, U.S. ethnicities, veterans, and persons with disabilities.

Globally, 40 per cent of HP hires in 2019 were women, and the company’s Global Supplier Diversity program spent $374 million with small and diverse suppliers including minority- and women-owned businesses, contributing $698 million in overall economic impact.

Earlier this year, HP re-committed to the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion, the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The HP Foundation pledged $500,000 to social justice organizations to confront and combat systemic racism and inequality in society.

HP is also leveraging its platforms to shine a spotlight on these issues globally, and is partnering with Girl Rising, a global non-profit dedicated to eradicating poverty by providing education to women and girls, to launch ‘My Story: The 2020 Storytelling Challenge.’

The challenge will bring to life examples of young leaders fighting for human rights, racial justice, gender equity and the advancement of education for girls.

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Friday, June 26, 2020

Investment in renewable energy highly attractive - NaijaAgroNet

The renewable power has been described highly attractive just as its increasingly cheaper than any new electricity capacity based on fossil fuels, a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) published reveals, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The report, Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2019
NaijaAgroNet gathered, showed that more than half of the renewable capacity added in 2019 achieved lower power costs than the cheapest new coal plants.

The report highlights that new renewable power generation projects now increasingly undercut existing coal-fired plants. On average, new solar photovoltaic (PV) and onshore wind power cost less than keeping many existing coal plants in operation, and auction results show this trend accelerating – reinforcing the case to phase-out coal entirely. Next year, up to 1 200 gigawatts (GW) of existing coal capacity could cost more to operate than the cost of new utility-scale solar PV, the report shows.

Replacing the costliest 500 GW of coal with solar PV and onshore wind next year would cut power system costs by up to USD 23 billion every year and reduce annual emissions by around 1.8 gigatons (Gt) of carbon dioxide (CO2), equivalent to 5% of total global CO2 emissions in 2019. It would also yield an investment stimulus of USD 940 billion, which is equal to around 1% of global GDP.

“We have reached an important turning point in the energy transition. The case for new and much of the existing coal power generation, is both environmentally and economically unjustifiable,” said Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA. “Renewable energy is increasingly the cheapest source of new electricity, offering tremendous potential to stimulate the global economy and get people back to work. Renewable investments are stable, cost-effective and attractive offering consistent and predictable returns while delivering benefits to the wider economy.

“A global recovery strategy must be a green strategy,” La Camera added. “Renewables offer a way to align short-term policy action with medium- and long-term energy and climate goals. Renewables must be the backbone of national efforts to restart economies in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. With the right policies in place, falling renewable power costs, can shift markets and contribute greatly towards a green recovery.”

Renewable electricity costs have fallen sharply over the past decade, driven by improving technologies, economies of scale, increasingly competitive supply chains and growing developer experience. Since 2010, utility-scale solar PV power has shown the sharpest cost decline at 82%, followed by concentrating solar power (CSP) at 47%, onshore wind at 39% and offshore wind at 29%.

Costs for solar and wind power technologies also continued to fall year-on-year. Electricity costs from utility-scale solar PV fell 13% in 2019, reaching a global average of 6.8 cents (USD 0.068) per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Onshore and offshore wind both declined about 9%, reaching USD 0.053/kWh and USD 0.115/kWh, respectively.

Isaac Oyimah/Editor

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Thursday, June 25, 2020

Propertymart boosts affordable housing, allocates plots @Fairmont Hilltop Estate - NaijaAgroNet


Propertymart Real Estate Investment Limited has intensified its effort to provide affordable housing to Nigerians with the allocation of plots of land to subscribers at Scheme Two of its Fairmont Hilltop Estate, Alagbado, Lagos.

Subscribers to the residential scheme, an affordable housing initiative, were full of commendations for the Company as they took possession of their plots at the weekend.

The subscribers, who praised both the scenic hilltop estate and infrastructure already provided by the Company, also hailed the speedy and transparent allocation process.

One of the allottees, Gibson Eze, praised the company, saying “I’m impressed with Propertymart. I like their customer service in particular and I will be recommending this Estate to others because my experience so far has been excellent. Every one of their activities is documented, and since it’s documented, it gives you the room to have trust. Once there is documentation, trust can easily flow.”

Another allottee, Biodun Koleosho, also praised Propertymart for the excellent layout of the Estate and not using the COVID-19 lockdown to delay allocation of plots.

He said, “They have done an excellent job of following up, keeping to their word and that is being able to deliver plots to customers. In terms of documentation, despite the COVID-19 lockdown, they got in touch with me and sent me an e-copy of the contract pending when I could come to the office and sign the hard copy. So, despite the challenges of COVID-19, they are still able to deliver as promised.”

An elated Mrs Abiola Oni also said, “I like the speedy nature of the sale and documentation process. We paid around early February, and here we are in June with our plot. The environment is nice and cool. I am impressed with Propertymart.”

Mrs Lynda Esohe Ugbesi, who stood in for her brother, Lucky Anthony, couldn’t contain her excitement with the serene Estate. She explained that “The environment is conducive and accessible. The terrain is excellent. I can see flooding won’t be an issue. The allocation process is transparent. I’m happy with the way everything has been done. I was even asking if they have more plots available so that I can tell others about the Estate.”

While commending the beautiful location, another allottee, Timothy Oyeniyi, said he had been on the lookout for a beautiful estate to invest in and that Fairmont Hilltop fit the bill perfectly.

He said, “It is secure from the hustle and bustle of the main Ota; it is close to Lagos. You can jump in and out without having to go through the potholes that many people experience in Ota. It’s a serene environment. That’s what I like about the location itself. And the fact that it’s a border town between Ogun and Lagos States.”

Speaking about the Estate and Propertymart’s resolve to provide affordable housing to Nigerians, General Manager, Sales and Marketing, Propertymart, Oluwasegun Damiro said it is committed to helping Nigerians own their homes in a safe and secure environment and at pocket-friendly prices.

He said, “we are for the grassroots and what we want to sell to people, particularly first-time homeowners, is affordability. Inside this Estate, we have some two-bedroom bungalows that we are constructing for people who won’t have time to build and want to save themselves the hassles of buying land and clearing. This is apart from the common land grabbers issue.”

Damiro added that though plots in Schemes One and Two in the Estate have been fully taken, prospective homeowners can take up the exciting promo offers in Scheme Three which run till the end of June.

“Ordinarily, our plot size is 500 Sqm, but we have 400 Sqm, 324 Sqm and 240 Sqm so that you could pay as low as N5 million. It’s all to encourage people. The promo price for 500sqm in Scheme Three is N7.8 million. That’s a discount of about N2 million from what you have in Schemes One and Two,” he said.

Damiro further added that Propertymart, which has been in the real estate business for over 12 years doesn’t just sell land, but a lifestyle to its customer.

He said, “We have allocated over 6,000 homes and serviced plots since inception and we are glad that our customers have faith in us. We don’t just sell land. What we sell is a lifestyle. Before people move in, infrastructure is ready. Street light, roads, electrification, which means that even before you start building, you have a planned Estate where you can start dreaming of where to keep a home—your children, where they are going to play. Where you can get your groceries. What we sell every day is a lifestyle, not just the normal Omo Onile.”

Fairmont Hilltop Estate, Alagbado, is part of the ‘The Fairmont’ serviced plots strategically located in Arepo and Lekki-Ajah. They are not only affordable but also allow clients to live in safe, beautiful environments with well-defined perimeters.

Isaac Oyimah/Editor

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Pix: Head, Marketing Services, Palton Morgan Holdings, Oluwaseyi Otulana (left), and an allottee, Bosede Otusanya, at the physical allocation of plots of land to subscribers of Fairmont Hilltop Estate, Alagbado, Lagos, recently.

Stantec, AfDB to host webinar on climate change, green investment - NaijaAgroNet


A webinar to be hosted by Stantec and African Development Bank (AfDB) on building the momentum to enhance private sector participation in climate change and green investment in Africa, has got a date, reports 

The workshop, 
NaijaAgroNet gathered, would present key findings on opportunities and challenges in climate change investment, in alignment with Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in Africa.

The Consultation workshop, 
NaijaAgroNet also gathered would showcase options for private sector investments in climate change, and has been slated for Thursday, June 25, 2020 by 1pm GMT.

The Climate Change and Green Growth Department of the African Development Bank (, with the global infrastructure firm, Stantec, will host a consultation workshop on enhancing private sector participation in climate change and green investment in Africa on Thursday, 25 June 2020 from 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm (Abidjan time).

The key findings expected would specifically come from the six pilot countries: Egypt, Morocco, Angola, Mozambique, Nigeria and South Africa.

Since 2015, 54 African countries have signed the Paris Agreement on climate change while at least 44 of them have submitted their NDCs, committing to keeping global warming below 2°C. In Africa, it is estimated that the implementation of NDCs will cost about $3 trillion by 2030. All projections indicate that about 75% of this cost will come from the private sector.

The participation of the private sector in climate action in Africa needs to be supported and guided towards opportunities for green investments on the continent. The workshop will emphasize priority options and models to support NDCs-aligned private sector investments by presenting scoping studies in the six pilot countries and elsewhere on the African continent.

Anthony Nyong, Director for Climate Change and Green Growth, and Al-Hamndou Dorsouma, Manager of the Climate Change and Green Growth Division, will open the session. The meeting will gather the Bank’s country managers, key stakeholders from the private sector, public body representatives, and academics to build the momentum to scale up climate finance on the continent.

Ayo Midele/Editor

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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

SATO Tap debuts in Nigeria - NaijaAgroNet

The SATO, LIXIL Group Corporation’s social business that aims to solve water, sanitation, and hygiene problems by providing affordable and easy-to-install sanitation systems to local communities around the world, has today introduced its new handwashing solution called the ‘SATO Tap’ reports NaijaAgroNet.

According to UNICEF, 40% of the world’s population still do not have access to basic handwashing facilities at home. In Nigeria, 73.5% of the population use contaminated water and live with poor sanitation facilities. To address this immense challenge, LIXIL has committed USD 1 million in line with its promise to support the commitments of development partners and others, which could impact 5 million people with improved handwashing.

“The COVID-19 situation underscores the vast inequities in access to water, sanitation, and hygiene for households in Africa and globally. We know that washing your hands with soap is one of the effective interventions against disease transmission. By bringing SATO’s design and engineering expertise, combined with global LIXIL support, we aim to accelerate this new handwashing innovation to market, making it available to households to reinforce handwashing behaviour change and to refine it for long-term offering in the SATO product portfolio.” said Erin McCusker, Vice President & Head of SATO.

SATO has worked with partners during the design process, receiving valuable technical inputs and helping to validate the efficacy of the SATO Tap design which consists of a plastic base with a nozzle that can be fitted with widely available plastic bottles. It is compact and can be used both within the home and as a handwashing station at public facilities. The unique design ensures minimal contact between the user and the tap, thereby reducing the spread of disease, while the trickle action minimizes water use, meaning fewer refills, while maintaining a solid flow of water.

In addition to providing an affordable handwashing facility to disadvantaged households through the SATO Tap, LIXIL’s existing partnership with UNICEF will also expand activities in handwashing and sanitation in response to COVID-19. These activities range from collection of commercial and behavioral insights to strengthen behavior change, joint advocacy to promote hygiene programming and maximizing existing public and private sector networks and supply chains to expand access to handwashing.

“We know that one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of diseases is to wash your hands. But for the poorest and most vulnerable children and families, the immediate risk of COVID-19 is compounded by a lack of basic handwashing facilities,” said Kelly Ann Naylor, UNICEF, Associate Director, WASH. “This global pandemic has made it more essential than ever to work closely with governments and private sector partners, like LIXIL, to ensure handwashing is possible for all.”

Speaking on the need for innovative hygiene solutions, Daigo Ishiyama, Chief Technology and Marketing Officer SATO, said, “We believe the SATO Tap will help advocate life changing behavior. It will promote hygiene and reinforce handwash behavior change by mitigating risks while conserving water. Our vision is well-aligned with the Government of Nigeria’s vision and priorities for its people in promoting hygiene and advancing SDG 6 by 2030.”

The first SATO Taps will be manufactured in India, and will be made available for partners in September 2020, with ramp up of production and retail availability through early 2021. LIXIL is also working to establish other licensing partners to expand to other markets in Africa.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

POST-COVID-19: INWOAD says women, children most affected negatively - NaijaAgroNet


The Initiative for Women’s Accelerated Development in Africa (INWOAD) has lamented that COVID-19 pandemic has most of its negative impact, largely on women and children, reports NaijaAgroNet.

INWOAD in a communique after its national zoom webinar, said that mostly affected by the lockdown as a result of the pandemic in Nigeria are women and children.

The communique endorsed by its Secretary and President, Ms Winny Fonaka and Ms Evelyn Onyilo respectively, pointed out that for women, their economic and social lives have been greatly affected causing a lot of hardships.

“Rape and sexual violence also reached alarming proportions,” INWOAD lamented, stressing that they are worried by this unfortunate development.

In addition, INWOAD resolved that:
1.       Covid 19 has generally affected women negatively socio-economically including increase in sexual and gender based violence. INWOAD condemns the escalation in cases of sexual abuse and calls on the federal government to declare a state of emergency on rape and gender based violence with immediate effect.

2.       The federal and state governments should immediately set up their response mechanisms to tackle rape by constituting stakeholders into the rape response committees to be headed by the honourable Minister of Women Affairs.

3.       Perpetrators of rape should be jailed for life without plea or option of fine to serve as deterrent to others. The states yet to adopt the Violence Against Persons Prohibition, VAPP Act and the Child Rights Act should do so without delay.

4.       In the interim, NAPTIP should be properly funded to handle rape cases and provide adequate shelter for victims and survivors nationwide.

5.       In the long term, a Commission or Agency on Sexual and Gender Based Violence should be established to properly handle issues of rape and provide rehabilitation and psycho social support to rape victims and survivors.

6.       INWOAD will continue to advocate and create awareness on the evil of rape on our women and vulnerable children to bring it to an end.

7.       We also recommend the following economic, humanitarian interventions as well as inclusion of women in governance to cushion the effect of Covid 19; The federal and state governments should include women, youth and relevant NGOs in the various Task Forces on Covid 19 Response to adequately cater for Women. The current composition of the Presidential Task Force PTF and other Covid 19 Committees nationwide is lopsided and discriminatory.

8.       Special soft loans and grants should be made available to women engaged in small and medium scale businesses to help them boost their economic base and mitigate the effect of the pandemic.

9.       INWOAD calls for the reintroduction and passage of the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill in the National Assembly to protect the rights of women and remove all forms of discrimination against women.

10.   There is urgent need for collaboration and networking between NGOs and relevant government agencies to address the problems facing women and together seek legislation in protecting the rights of women and girls.

Nkem Nweke/Editor

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Rwanda: Pioneering gender equality with technology - NaijaAgroNet

 In 2020, it was the only African country ranked in the top 10 of the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report.

It ranked in the top four in the Report’s political empowerment category, in recognition of the high proportion of Rwandese women lawmakers and ministers.

The country therefore seemed a natural fit for a 2018 pilot program of the African Development Bank’s Coding for Employment initiative, with Nigeria, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal.

The Coding for Employment flagship program is establishing 130 ICT centers for excellence in Africa, training 234,000 youths for employability and entrepreneurship to create over 9 million jobs.

Hendrina C. Doroba, Manager in the Education, Human Capital and Employment Division at the Bank, explains how Rwanda is empowering women in technology.

How has the government of Rwanda enabled women to pursue careers in technology, and STEM in general?

The government of Rwanda has been a foremost champion of women in ICT and in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (also known as STEM), by driving initiatives like the establishment of the Carnegie Mellon University-Africa campus, for which the Bank provided funding. Students from 17 different countries pursue highly specialized ICT skills at the Africa campus.

The country also hosts the African Institute of Mathematics (AIMS) which is now recruiting balanced cohorts of women and men. Lastly, the Bank-funded University of Rwanda College of Science and Technology has for many years produced women leaders in the ICT sector in Rwanda and globally.

Rwanda’s government also supports initiatives such as the Miss Geek Rwanda competition, an initiative of Girls in ICT Rwanda, which aims to encourage school-age girls, even those in remote areas, to develop innovative tech or business ideas and to generally immerse themselves in ICT. The Miss Geek initiative has now been rolled out in other countries in the region.

What role has the Bank played in supporting Rwanda’s digital strategy, especially in relation to women?

The strategy of the Bank’s Coding for Employment center of excellence in Rwanda has been to join forces with the Rwanda Coding Academy through a grant agreement to support the school’s activities, like ICT equipment, teacher training and career orientation. The Rwanda Coding Academy started in January 2019 and has so far enrolled one cohort, which is now going into their second year.

Besides the Rwanda Coding Academy, the Bank’s Coding for Employment program held a two-day masterclass for girls and young women entrepreneurs at the 2018 Youth Conneckt summit, where over 200 beneficiaries were trained in using digital tools to amplify their businesses. The session was attended by women entrepreneurs as well as students from girl schools in Kigali, including those from White Dove School, which is an all-girl school fully dedicated to training in ICT. The masterclass culminated into a pitching exercises from various groups who presented their ideas to a panel of judges.

What lessons can other African countries learn from Rwanda’s approach to the 4IR, in particular the role of women?

The government of Rwanda has been a trailblazer in using innovation to improve public services across the country using the e-governance platform Irembo, to bring government services closer to citizens. In addition, the government is driving national digital skilling campaigns by championing digital ambassador programs and platforms such as Smart Africa, which has organized the annual Transform Africa summit since 2013.

Still, gender equality remains a concern, and gender gaps are evident even in schools. Rwanda’s ambitions extend to piloting the Kigali Innovation City, also Bank-funded, to serve as the country’s knowledge and innovation hub by attracting new businesses and incubating ideas. At the same time, the country has created a business environment which is pro-entrepreneurship and welcomes global inventors to test their ideas and concepts. Zipline, a company which uses drones to deliver medical supplies in remote areas, is one example.

Lastly, Rwanda promotes women leaders in the ICT and innovation sector. The country’s Minister of ICT and Innovation is a woman, as is the CEO of the Irembo platform. Appointments such as these are helping to dispel the myth that women are not as capable as men in ICT.

Uj. N. Dominic/Editor

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Pix: Doroba

Monday, June 22, 2020

Africa’s agro value chains must go digital - NaijaAgroNet


Africa must seize the opportunity of the COVID-19 pandemic to deepen the digitalization of agricultural value chains and transform the sector, speakers at a webinar jointly hosted by the FAO Investment Centre and the African Development Bank ( said.

The webinar, held on 10 June, is the first of a four-part series discussing transforming agriculture in Africa through digitalization. It explored digital responses that can be quickly deployed to address the disruptions to food systems, caused by COVID-19. It also examined the requirements for digital transformation in agriculture on the continent.

Nearly 500 people, representing agri-tech, telecom, government agency implementers, policymakers, farmers and development partners, participated. The panelists included Wuraola Jinadu, Business Development Manager, Vodacom Business, Nigeria; Myriam Said, Digital Adviser, Office of the Prime Minister, Ethiopia; Mao Yohannes, Agricultural Transformation Agency, Ethiopia; Benito Eliasi, Programme Officer, Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions, and Chris Lukolyo, Digital Country Lead, UN Capital Development Fund, Uganda.

They identified potential investments for the digital transformation of African agriculture during and after COVID-19, ranging from digital profiling of value chain actors to mobile payments and e-commerce. The participants also discussed the necessary policy and regulatory frameworks for inclusiveness, scalability and viability, including for data governance and protection, digital financial products, digital ID systems, e-contracts and e-extension services. The meeting proposed the bundling of digital services, agri-tech innovation challenges and open systems to help build financially viable supply capacity.

“Efforts need to be catalysed on both the policy and investment fronts for digitalization to help make agri-food systems more productive, more inclusive and more sustainable in the future,” FAO Investment Centre Director Mohamed Manssouri, said

Before the COVID-19 crisis, digital technologies were changing the global economy, and agri-food systems were part of that transformation. “With COVID-19, this trend has accelerated,” Manssouri noted.

Like elsewhere, the spread of COVID-19 has disrupted agri-food systems across Africa. Key supply chains have been interrupted, markets closed and movement restricted, resulting in agricultural labor shortages. Farmers are missing planting seasons, while agribusinesses are facing liquidity constraints.

Demand for catering has dwindled and consumer preferences have shifted away from highly perishable foods, like fruits and vegetables, meat and fish, to ones with longer shelf-lives.

“We must also use this wave of interest to build digital platforms that facilitate linkages between value chain actors at much-reduced transaction costs,” Martin Fregene, the Bank’s Director of Agriculture and Agro-Industries, said.

As the pandemic gradually shifts from an emergency response to recovery and resilience, there is an opportunity to build back better in the agricultural sector, FAO Investment Officer Gerard Sylvester said, noting that financial inclusion will be a game-changer in rural communities.

“We need to ensure that costs are not a barrier, that small-scale farmers can adopt and apply digital advisory and other knowledge products and that the content is relevant, localized and actionable.”

Ed Mabaya, Manager of the Bank’s Agri-business Division, said that “population growth, coupled with the expanding middle class, youth bulge, and changing diets could drive the value of the African food market to $1 trillion by 2030.

The growth of digital, data-driven and tech-enabled solutions can trigger a new green revolution for Africa, addressing some of the challenges and constraints along the entire value chain, from input supply to the consumer end, he noted.

In his closing remarks, Benjamin Addom, Team Leader, ICT for Agriculture at the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA), noted that digitalisation is critical for the agricultural sector due to the potential negative impact of the health crisis on economic recovery and food security.

“We need to understand the linkage between digital agriculture solutions and services with big data and analytics, viable business models, and the enabling environment required to be able to fully realise digitalisation for agriculture during recovery and sustainability,” he said.

The African Development Bank launched its Digital Agriculture flagship initiative at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development in August 2019, with the aim of helping to create an enabling environment to unlock digital solutions across Africa.

Isaac Oyimah/Editor

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IRENA, FT to host webinar on energy transformation - NaijaAgroNet


The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is partnering with Financial Times in a live interactive webinar to launch IRENA's Post-COVID Recovery Report, reports 

NaijaAgroNet gathered would provide a dive deep into the policy recommendations, strategies and investments needed to achieve a sustainable economic recovery.

Slated for Wednesday, 24 June 2020 at 11:00 BST (GMT + 1), the webinar, is coming handy as governments prepare stimulus packages aimed at averting a prolonged recession in the wake of the pandemic.

According to the organisers, some of the burning questions with answers expected at the webinar includes how does this position energy transformation as a driver in the economic recovery?

In addition, "What stimulus policies and government action will help accelerate the energy transition?
NaijaAgroNet further gathered that Francesco La Camera, IRENA Director-General, will shed some light on these issues by presenting the agency’s new report, The Post-COVID Recovery: An agenda for resilience, development and equality. In this free-to-attend digital event, he will be interviewed by Leslie Hook, Environment and Clean Energy Correspondent, Financial Times.

Isaac Oyimah/Editor

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Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Germany helps African countries maintain drought insurance in view of COVID-19 - NaijaAgroNet


In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the German government assumes premium payments of around EUR 19 million for the drought insurance offered by the African Risk Capacity (ARC). This will reliably protect up to 20 million poor and vulnerable people in Africa against drought in the coming agricultural season and mitigate the risk of a compound crisis.

Maria Flachsbarth, Parliamentary State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and Co-Chair of the InsuResilience Global Partnership emphasized in a video message that Germany will provide its partners in Africa with fast and uncomplicated assistance, for they are facing unprecedented social, economic and financial strains in view of the pandemic.

In her corresponding video statement, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chairperson of the ARC Governing Board, stressed that Germany’s assistance to insure African countries against the risk of drought “could not have come at a better time.” It will “help avert a situation of compounded effect of the Coronavirus pandemic and drought in any of the beneficiary countries thereby saving the continent from extended negative health and socioeconomic problems.”

ARC is a specialized agency of the African Union. It was launched in 2012 as an initiative of African countries to improve their disaster and risk management and thus increase their resilience to climate change and disasters. Today, ARC is offering its members an index-based drought insurance that guarantees payouts if precipitation falls below certain levels. In consequence, financial support is reaching affected small-scale farmers already before the end of the agricultural season. Also, ARC is offering governments comprehensive technical support for disaster preparedness and disaster risk management. Under the umbrella of the InsuResilience Global Partnership, working to expand climate risk transfer solutions for poor and vulnerable people, Germany to date supported ARC with around EUR 62 million.

By signing an ARC insurance policy, countries can cushion the negative consequences of a drought and thus avert a more far-reaching economic, food and health crisis. However, African governments are often faced with the challenge of providing solid financing for the annual insurance premiums. With the COVID-19 pandemic, this problem has become even more acute in the current year.

BMZ is responding to this situation with its emergency COVID-19 support programme: Zimbabwe and five West African countries, which have to take out insurance cover already in June, will be provided with EUR 8.5 million for premium payments under ARC Replica. This will enable the World Food Programme and the START Network - an association of 40 humanitarian aid organizations - to take out ARC policies for Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, and Zimbabwe. BMZ is further providing EUR 10.5 million for premium subsidies to countries in the south and east of the continent, where the insurance policy will not be taken out until the second half of the year due to the later planting season.

According to Maria Flachsbarth, Germany’s assistance to cover ARC premium payments can achieve three positive effects: "Firstly, we are deliberately creating liquidity for our partners’ particularly urgent COVID-19 measures. Secondly, we are ensuring that the drought insurance, which is of vital importance to so many people, is not lost in the already difficult situation. And thirdly, we are contributing towards stability for ARC member countries.”

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Tuesday, June 16, 2020

FG appoints Eweluka MD of Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading - NaijaAgroNet


The Federal Government (FG) has appointed Mr Nnaemeka Eweluka, as the new Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET), reports 

Mr Aaron Artimas, Special Adviser, Media and Communication to the Minister of Power, Mr Sale Mamman, made this known in a statement in Abuja on Monday.

Artimas said that the appointment was in furtherance of the reorganisation and realignments in the power sector.

According to him, the Minister of Power while making the announcement, said that Eweluka is to succeed Mrs Marilyn Amobi, as the substantive MD and Chief Executive Officer.

Artimas said the former managing director is to handover and proceed on terminal leave with immediate effect.He said that before the appointment of Eweluka as the Managing Director, he was the company’s General Counsel and Secretary.

Artimas said that President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier approved the recommendation to this effect.

“Eweluka, a lawyer, came to this position with over 20 years’ experience, spanning private practice, academics and the Power sector.“

He is a specialist on privatisation and legal energy reforms as well as a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitration,”

Uboshe Uboshe/Editor

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Thursday, June 11, 2020

WED2020: FBRA affirms waste recycling as crucial to environmental protection - NaijaAgroNet


As the world celebrates the World Environmental Day 2020, the Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance (FBRA) has called for increased stakeholders’ collaboration towards restoring biodiversity and preserving the environment, reports 

The Alliance, in a statement commemorating this year’s World Environmental Day themed “Celebrate Biodiversity”, reiterated the crucial role of recycling in preserving the environment while urging consumers to imbibe a culture of proper waste disposal.

The World Environment Day is an annual event designed to engage people, communities and governments to raise global awareness and action for the protection of the environment. The event is expected to galvanize global efforts and initiatives that address the growing concerns around the environment such as global warming, food security, climate change and water supply.

FBRA was established in 2018 as the Producer Responsible Organization (PRO) for the food and beverage sector with a focus on enabling the collection, recovery and recycling of the post-consumer packaging waste in compliance with the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) guidelines. Since inception, the group has continued to support the waste potentials in Nigeria through various initiatives such as community recycling education, buy-back schemes and engagement of stakeholders in the waste value chain to promote circular economy.

According to the Chairman of the Alliance, Matthieu Seguin, the theme of this year’s celebration “Celebrate Biodiversity” is timely at a period when over 1 million species including plants and animal are at a risk of extinction essentially due to human activities and environmental threats posed by climate change, pollution, industrialization, land-use change and deforestation.

“Beyond the modest gains recorded in terms of significant reduction in pollution around the world, the year 2020 remains a critical moment for us, being the curtain raiser for the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. We are using this opportunity to call for the need to scale up consumer education, recycling efforts and stakeholders’ support in promoting sustainable consumption and production to preserve the environment,”

“The FBRA coalition, is predicated on the strong commitment of its member organizations to deliver on goals that will amongst other things, have a significant impact in the promotion of environmental sustainability. We will continue to lead this change as well as the adoption of practices and partnerships to advance this important mandate,” Matthieu said.

FBRA consists of eleven forward-thinking companies namely Nigerian Bottling Company Limited/Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, Nigerian Breweries Plc. And Seven-Up Bottling Company Limited. Others are Nestle Nigeria Plc., Guinness Nigeria Plc., Intercontinental Distillers Limited, International Breweries Limited, Tulip Cocoa, Prima Caps and Preforms, DOW Chemicals and Tetrapak West Africa. Together, member organisations are committed to taking deliberate actions in providing sustainable solutions for post-consumer packaging waste recovery, environmental preservation and promotion of biodiversity in Nigeria.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Maggi dishes out new website with Yelo Peppe - NaijaAgroNet


The Nestlé brand MAGGI has launched a first-of-its-kind website in Central and West Africa, offering fresh new twists to well-known African dishes.

It is also serving up a second season of Yelo Pèppè – its popular online nutrition education drama series – on YouTube ( from June 8, 2020.

The brand’s latest launches are just a few of the innovative ways MAGGI is meeting its consumers’ digital and nutritional appetites, while also contributing to Nestlé’s purpose of enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future.

The MAGGI website, which provides over 40 African recipes on an easy-to-use platform, can help families cook balanced and nutritious meals.

Now that many of us are spending more time cooking at home, who isn’t stuck for new food ideas? Get some inspiration from the Recipe of The Day or the With A Twist section! There are recipes for kids, adventurous cooks, those who love a classic dish and time-saving one pot meals, all available in English and French.

“MAGGI innovates once more by providing different variations of beloved African dishes that offer something for every food lover,” said Dominique Allier, Business Executive Officer for Culinary at Nestlé Central and West Africa. “We are proud to be the first region worldwide chosen by MAGGI to launch this unique website”, he added.

The new website, which was built in collaboration with top African chefs, expert nutritionists and local food influencers, provides helpful tips in some recipes on how to boost your iron intake and balance dishes.

“As well as highlighting the importance of including nutritious diets in our daily lives with well-known family favourites; people across the globe now have easy access to traditional African recipes we know and love”, said Akua Kwakwa, Nutrition, Health and Wellness Manager for Nestlé Central and West Africa.

“For people who are more concerned about sodium, saturated fat and added sugars, the website features the unique ‘MyMenuIQ™’ guide that illustrates how nutritionally-balanced each recipe is. The higher the score, the more balanced the meal is,” she added.

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Monday, June 1, 2020

2,000 families to benefit from ITFC food programme - NaijaAgroNet

Some 2,000 families have been marked to benefit from the food programme agreement, courtesy of the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), reports NaijaAgroNet. The deal, NaijaAgroNet gathered that was to support the provision of a food relief programme for the most vulnerable people in Kyrgyzstan during the outbreak of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), in coordination with of the Kyrgyzstan Government. This, NaijaAgroNet gathered, will allow the ITFC partner, Micro Credit Company M Bulak of Kyrgyzstan, to implement the humanitarian intervention. The support will provide immediate relief to around 2,000 families who are most affected by the health and economic consequences of the pandemic and is the latest in a series of ITFC interventions, in alignment with the Islamic Development Bank Group ‘3Rs Response Package’. ITFC Chief Executive Officer, Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, said: “This grant provides critical support for the provision of crucial food supplies in Kyrgyzstan, and enables ITFC to support the most fragile, who are struggling with the social and economic fallout from the pandemic. The intervention also builds upon ITFC’s existing partnership with the Micro Credit Company M Bulak and contributes to enhance the development of economic and social infrastructures that both parties are working towards.” Micro Credit Company M Bulak is a client of ITFC and benefited from US$2 million Murabaha Financing Agreement in 2019. In addition, Micro Credit Company M Bulak benefited from an Islamic Trade Finance Workshop conducted in March 2019 and Advanced Islamic Trade Finance Workshop conducted in February 2020, both organized by ITFC in Kyrgyzstan. Isaac Oyimah/Editor ... Linking agrobiz, sustainable environs, people & technology

ITFC targets 2,000 families for COVID-19 relief programme - NaigaAgroNet


Some 2,000 families have been marked to benefit from immediate provision of relief for a segment during this COVID-19 pandemic, by the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), reports NaijaAgroNet.

In a agreement entered recently to support the provision of a food relief program for the most vulnerable people in Kyrgyzstan during the outbreak of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), NaijaAgroNet gathered that coordination was for the Kyrgyzstan Government.

This, NaijaAgroNet also gathered will allow the ITFC partner, Micro Credit Company M Bulak of Kyrgyzstan, to implement the humanitarian intervention.

The support will provide immediate relief to around 2,000 families who are most affected by the health and economic consequences of the pandemic and is the latest in a series of ITFC interventions, in alignment with the Islamic Development Bank Group ‘3Rs Response Package’.

ITFC CEO, ITFC, Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, said: “This grant provides critical support for the provision of crucial food supplies in Kyrgyzstan, and enables ITFC to support the most fragile, who are struggling with the social and economic fallout from the pandemic. The intervention also builds upon ITFC’s existing partnership with the Micro Credit Company M Bulak and contributes to enhance the development of economic and social infrastructures that both parties are working towards.”

Micro Credit Company M Bulak is a client of ITFC and benefited from US$2 million Murabaha Financing Agreement in 2019. In addition, Micro Credit Company M Bulak benefited from an Islamic Trade Finance Workshop conducted in March 2019 and Advanced Islamic Trade Finance Workshop conducted in February 2020, both organized by ITFC in Kyrgyzstan.

Isaac Oyimah/Editor

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