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News Roundup: Senate approves Buhari’s $16.2bn, €1.02bn loan request, Nigeria, nine others at high risk of measles outbreak, WHO warns…

Senate approves Buhari’s $16.2bn, €1.02bn loan request
The Senate on Wednesday approved President Muhammadu Buhari’s loan request for the sum of $16.2billion and €1.02billion, under the 2018-2020 external borrowing plan. The approval followed the consideration of a report by the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debt on the proposed 2018-2020 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan. Chairman of the committee, Clifford Ordia (PDP, Edo Central), in his presentation, said President Buhari’s request was in compliance with the provisions of the Debt Management Office (Establishment) Act 2003 and the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007. Also approved was a grant component of $125 million and the request to the Bank of Industries for the issuance of €500 million (Euros) but no more than €750 million Eurobond in the International Capital Market. Ordia explained that out of the total amount approved by the National Assembly, the sum of $3,529,300,000 billion would be sourced from the World Bank; $5,078,441,252 billion from China EximBank; $3,902,267,260 billion from Industrial & Commercial Bank of China; $2,893,693,930 billion from China Development Bank; and $698,500,000 billion from the Africa Development Bank (AfDB).

Nigeria blocks bank accounts in renewed crypto onslaught
With the unannounced closure of bank accounts belonging to individuals involved in peer-to-peer trading, concerned crypto traders say Nigeria’s central bank may have activated the next phase of its campaign against the cryptocurrency market. Some affected Nigerians say there was no prior notification from their banks that such action was to be taken. In a memo sent by a tier II bank to staff members, it warned against helping crypto traders and promised to carry out disciplinary measures on staff that fail to report an account used for crypto services. It, therefore, mandated every staff member to monitor all accounts and the transactions carried out to ensure they are in line with the directive of the central bank. Some customers of banks like FCMB, Kuda, Access Bank, GTBank, Zenith Bank have been issued letters regarding the closure of their accounts on suspicion of crypto trading. In one of the letters BusinessDay saw, the bank cited the central bank’s regulation/circular of January 12, 2017, and February 5, 2021, which prohibited institutions and individual accounts from dealing in cryptocurrencies or facilitating payments for cryptocurrency exchanges. The cryptocurrency market in Nigeria has had a torrid history with regulators and financial institutions despite widespread attraction. Earlier in the year, Nigeria emerged as the country with the largest volume for peer-to-peer cryptocurrency transactions in Africa and second in the world. But Nigeria’s financial regulator appears unimpressed by the potential of the market but rather chose to view it as a threat to stable economic policies. “Some of us have been pushing for regulation of space in Nigeria just like the vice president once said. But it seems the eNaira is launched to compete against the decentralized cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and others,” notes Rume Ophi, a digital asset expert.

MTN Nigeria, Airtel PSBs to create 1m direct jobs
Following the granting of approval in principle (AIP) by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), MTN Nigeria and Airtel now have about six months to become licenced Payment Service Banks (PSBs). Apart from helping to include 40 million adult Nigerians outside the financial services industry, the move could create over 1 million direct jobs in 2022.
MTN Nigeria and Airtel combined boast 124.6 million voice subscribers and 96.1 data subscribers. Apart from that, MTN Nigeria through its MoMo Super Agent network has amassed 230,000 agents across the country, and given its experience as the second-largest mobile money operator in Africa, after Safaricom, deploying the same service in Nigeria would not be so difficult for the telco. The model would attract hundreds of young unemployed Nigerians providing the telco with over 100,000 banking agents. MTN Nigeria and Airtel could also be the push Globacom needs to launch its mobile money operations after one year of securing the licence. The CBN wants to provide access to financial services to 95 percent of Nigerians who are not financially included by 2024. In the past, the CBN has pushed the commercial banks to lead the financial inclusion campaign and the result has not been as the apex bank expected.

Read also: Anambra NLC tasks Soludo with improving workers’ welfare, inclusive govt

Nigeria, nine others at high risk of measles outbreak, WHO warns
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have warned that the risk of measles outbreaks is mounting, as over 22.3 million infants missed their first dose of the vaccine due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The agencies in a report released on Wednesday listed Nigeria and nine other countries at most risk due to the high burden of infants that did not receive their vaccine doses leaving them vulnerable. These countries account for nearly two-thirds (59 percent) of the global total. “The Ten countries with the highest numbers of infants not receiving Measles- Containing Vaccine (MCV1) in 2020 were Nigeria (3.3 million), India (2.6 million), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (1.5 million), Ethiopia (1.4 million), Indonesia (1.1 million), Pakistan (1.0 million),” the report read. Others are Angola, the Philippines, Brazil, and Afghanistan all below one million infants. Reported measles cases fell by more than 80 percent in the 2020 year compared with 2019, and about 3 million more children missed the vaccines in 2020 than the previous year, threatening global efforts to eradicate the viral disease. Only 70 percent of kids received their second dose last year, which is well below the 95 percent threshold needed to protect communities, the report added. The report noted that vaccination campaigns in 23 countries, originally planned for 2020, were postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic – leaving more than 93 million people at risk for the disease.

Flex Finance partners with Wema Bank to launch digital tools for SMEs
Flex Finance, a fintech company has unveiled the Flex mobile App to provide financial solutions and management to Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMES). The Flex App in partnership with Wema Bank will provide financial management solutions to make business stabilize and strive to enable SMEs to participate in the development process in Nigeria. Yemi Olulana, the CEO of Flex Finance while speaking on the launch told BusinessDay that the Flex App was established to tackle the challenges SMEs face managing finance in their business. “With the flex mobile App, you will be able to budget, track your spending, categorize your transactions and make bulk payments. The App is charged specifically for business owners for digitizing their business,” Olulana said. Flex Finance is a Lagos based Nigerian Fintech startup that builds out a mobile ecosystem which helps SMEs and solo entrepreneurs to manage and track their business expenses and finance. It was established in 2019 and has bagged 100,000 dollar in funding and technical support from Accion Venture lab. Olulana told BusinessDay that over 2000 Nigerians are currently using the Flex App which has an inner support phone number which is made available to reach out to customers.

Dave leads nominations for the 2021 MOBO Awards.
The 2021 Music for Black Origin (MOBO) Music Awards will be broadcast live from the Coventry Building Society Arena in the United Kingdom on December 5th. This would be the 24th mobo award since its inception in 1996. David Orobosa, also known as “Dave”, has the most nominations for album of the year, best male act, best hip-hop act, song of the year, video of the year, and album of the year. “Dave” Omoregie, is a Nigerian-British rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, and actor. Dave has gained acclaim for his socially conscious lyricism and wordplay and is among the most recognized British rappers. On November 29, 2017, Dave received his first MOBO Award for Best Newcomer Act at the 2017 ceremony. His second album, We’re All Alone in This Together, was released on July 23, 2021, and debuted at number 1 on the UK and UK R&B chart lists. Nigerian singer Wizkid who won the Best African Act in last year’s category is nominated for both Best International Act and Best African Act alongside Mavin music label star Rema. The award recognizes African artists in the Best African Music Act category with the nominees such as; Ayra Starr, Burna Boy, Ckay Davido, King Promise, NSG, Rema, Tems, Tiwa Savage, and Wizkid.

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