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News Roundup: Nigeria reject vaccine passports, Coca-Cola set to invest $1bn in Nigeria, Sparkle raises $3.1m seed round…

Nigeria, Others Reject Vaccine Passports for Air Travellers
Nigeria has joined the rest of African countries to reject the idea of imposing vaccine passports on air travellers, stating that it amounts to discrimination. African Ministers of Aviation have described the proposal to impose vaccine passports for air travelers as unacceptable, saying it is tantamount to discrimination against certain groups of population, especially on the African Continent which still has considerable number of its citizens who are yet to receive the vaccines. Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, who spoke for Africa during a presentation at the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) high-level conference on COVID-19, said rather than imposing vaccine passports, states that are parties to the convention on international civil aviation should continue to minimise the risks during travel by ensuring compliance with existing multinational treaties, international frameworks, guidelines and recommendations. The minister also recommended that human rights, regional/continental/global health security, economic growth, social cohesion and good international relations as well as use of innovation and technology worldwide to harmonise requirements should be promoted, while transmission of critical information across borders related to public health issues such as COVID-19 and coordination among key players should also be considered.

Coca-Cola set to invest $1bn in Nigeria in 5yrs
Coca-Cola, the biggest non-alcoholic beverage company in the world, has renewed its commitment to investing about $1bn over the next five years in Nigeria to scale its operations by creating more business and economic opportunities. The Managing Director, Coca-Cola Nigeria, Alfred Olajide, said that the company has invested $1 billion in the past 10 years and will do the same again for the next 5 years. “We have invested $1 billion in the last 10 years and will invest another $1 billion (N560 billion) in the next 5 years. We have spent N88 billion in local sourcing (as of 2019) and paid the sum of N223 billion as tax payment in 5 years and also paid N154 billion as salaries and taxes in five years Nigeria is a very important key for Coca-Cola worldwide. More than 30% of our population are youth and that is key to us. In terms of positioning, Nigeria is top in the radar.” Olajide said the company is focused on growing Nigeria and the African continent and will continue to carry out its outsourcing locally.

Read also: Russia battles to meet global demand for Sputnik V vaccine

Bolt to reward drivers with cars in Nigeria, Ghana, SA
Bolt, a leading ride-hailing platform, has launched its new “Bolt Driver’s League” competition for new and existing drivers on the platform across Nigeria, Ghana, and South Africa, as part of its commitment to drivers while advocating customer service excellence. The “Bolt Driver’s League” is an extension of the mega bonus challenge. The contest showcases Bolt’s commitment to advancing and easing mobility in sub-Saharan Africa while also empowering the economy with extra earning opportunities. The challenge will be held for a 10-week period and will reward four winners in Nigeria and Ghana (total of 8 in West Africa) and three from South Africa with a brand-new car as well as consolation prizes for other participants. The Bolt Driver’s League is divided into a new drivers’ league, a women’s league, and an existing drivers’ league with each league given a unique achievable target. Drivers in these leagues will be given goals in form of finished rides and driver ratings. Scoring these goals will qualify drivers to win a token towards a grand prize decided in a draw. The more tokens earned, the higher their chances of winning. The contest will award three cars with a token system, one from each league. An additional car will also be given to the overall top driver in the country based on having the highest number of trips and maintaining high ratings in the period.

Federal Govt to Make Vaccination Compulsory for Civil Servants
The Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19 has said that civil servants would be required to present proof of vaccination or negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests conducted within 72 hours to enable access to government offices from December 1, 2021. This is even as the PSC said South Africa, Turkey and Brazil have been removed from restriction list for travellers. The chairman, PSC on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, stated this during the presidential press briefing on COVID-19 on Wednesday in Abuja. Mustapha said, “Statistics generated over the last four weeks on testing have shown that the trend of infection is going down in some states while in others, the trajectory is upward. The combined total for testing by PCR and RDT now stands at about 3,141,795 million persons. “With effect from 1st December, 2021, federal government employees shall be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result done within 72 hours, to gain access to their offices, in all locations within Nigeria and our Missions. An appropriate service wide advisory/circular will be issued to guide the process.”

Sparkle secures $3.1m seed round from all-Nigerian investors
An all-Nigerian group of investors is leading a $3.1 million (N1.3 billion) seed round in Sparkle, a mobile-first digital bank that provides financial, lifestyle, and business support services to Nigerians across the globe. The funding round which was oversubscribed has an exclusive list of local investors including Leadway Assurance, Trium Networks, and a number of high net-worth individuals (HNIs). Sparkle has previously raised a $2 million (N857 million) pre-seed round from friends and family which now brings its total funding to $5.1 million (N2.1 billion). Sparkle says it will deploy the new investment in scaling talent teams across engineering, financial risk, and marketing departments. It plans to also invest in an automated backend process and digital infrastructure.Founded in 2019 by Uzoma Dozie, former CEO of defunct Diamond Bank, Sparkle has grown on its mobile app a digital-first tribe of users who have access to features such as savings, bill payments including airtime, cable, utility, transport top-ups, the ability to request or send funds, split bills, review spending breakdowns, among others. The company has seen triple-digit growth between 2020 and 2021. Sparkle said it is now ready to focus on connecting Nigerians and the Nigerian diaspora by building a different type of financial services platform that is more than just banking, but a means of improving the financial lifestyle of its users, allowing for borderless transactions.

CBN finances Lagos blue line rail project with N110bn
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Thursday said it is financing the Lagos State blue line rail project with a total of N110 billion under its Real Sector Support Facility (RSSF) Differentiated Cash Reserve Requirement (DCRR) intervention fund. Already, the CBN has provided N60 billion out of which N45 billion has been disbursed and N50 billion will be made available in the second tranche. Yusuf Philip Yila, director, development finance department of the CBN made this known during a tour of the blue line rail project in Marina Lagos. The blue line rail project, which is currently under construction by the Lagos State Government, through the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) is expected to be completed in the last quarter of 2022. Yila, who came in company with the LAMATA team, said the CBN was at Marina to monitor and evaluate progress on the blue line project embarked by Lagos State Government. He said the CBN through some banks have provided funding under its DCRR intervention to ensure that Lagos State has the right funding for the project. He explained that the disbursement of the fund was being made in tranches, and that another tranche was due. However, he said the quality of work was quite impressive. The other banks that are collaborating with the CBN in financing the project include Access Bank, Sterling and Fidelity.

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