Five things to know to start your Saturday

AUC, AfDB sign $9.73m agreement to drive digital market development

The African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have signed a grant agreement for $9.73 million to drive digital market development in Africa.

In a statement issued on the website of the AfDB on Friday, the agreement was for the implementation of Phase 1 of the Upstream Project for Digital Market Development in Africa.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the signing took place on Thursday at AUC headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Albert Muchanga, AUC Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry, and Minerals, and Dr. Abul Kamara, AfDB’s Deputy Director-General, East Africa Region, both signed the agreement.

The AfDB’s Board of Directors approved the grant of $9.73 million dollars in September.

Muchanga, however, expressed the AUC’s gratitude to the AfDB for its support.

Read also: AfDB mobilises $31bn investment interest

FG inaugurates national poverty situation room

Prince Clem Agba, the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, inaugurated the National Poverty Dashboard Situation Room (PDSR) on Friday.

Agba inaugurated the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) PDSR at the bureau’s headquarters in Abuja.

According to NAN, he said the hub presents a useful tool for a proper understanding of the poverty situation in Nigeria.

The minister said the idea was to have a data hub of poverty and welfare information with different features where policy discussions could be hosted.

Agba said the data hub would give the public access to gain more knowledge and understanding of concepts and methods for how poverty measurements are done and how the data can be applied in practice.

“The purpose of the lab is to have people use it and have an understanding of how to deal with issues that we have.”

“We believe there must be transparency and accountability; we must involve the people in whatever we are doing so the trust gap will be narrowed.”

The minister said the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) Report inaugurated on Thursday revealed that poverty was prevalent in the rural areas at 72 percent compared to the urban areas at 42 percent.

Agba, therefore, called on state governors to focus on the rural areas as a way to end poverty in Nigeria.

2023: Fintiri pledges more dividends of democracy for Adamawa people

Gov. Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa has promised to deliver more dividends of democracy to the people if re-elected in the 2023 general election.

Fintiri said this at a campaign rally in the Guyuk Local Government Area of the state on Friday.
According to NAN, he promised to consolidate some of his achievements in office if given the mandate in 2023.
“We will ensure the provision of potable water and enhance the security of lives and property in the state.”
“You can bear me witness that I have delivered a reasonable percentage of all my campaign promises in the last three years,” he said.
He said that his government had ensured the timely payment of salaries to civil servants, constructed hundreds of kilometres of roads, and increased the number of healthcare facilities in the state.

China pushes back on FBI claims of Chinese ‘police stations’ in U.S.

China on Friday denied reports about it operating “police stations” on U.S. soil. It claimed that they were not police stations but volunteer-run sites.

This defence came after Christopher Wray, FBI director, said that he was “very concerned” about unauthorised stations that have been linked to Beijing’s influence operations.

Safeguard Defenders, a Europe-based human rights organization, published a report in September revealing the presence of dozens of Chinese police “service stations” in major cities around the world, including New York.

Reuters reported that Wray told a Senate hearing on Thursday that it was “outrageous” that the Chinese government would attempt to set up a police presence in the United States, saying it “violates sovereignty and circumvents standard judicial and law enforcement cooperation processes.”

China’s Embassy in Washington acknowledged the existence of volunteer-run sites in the United States but said they were not “police stations” or “police service centers.”

UK $65 bn budget tightening plan gets IMF backing

Kristalia Georgieva, the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) managing director, has said that British finance minister Jeremy Hunt’s latest budget tightening plan of 55 billion pounds ($65 billion) gets her blessing.

She said that she was convinced about it after her phone conversation with Hunt.

“It strikes the right balance between fiscal responsibility and protecting growth and vulnerable households,” Georgieva said in a brief statement on social media.

The IMF had criticised Hunt’s predecessor, Kwasi Kwarteng, for previous budget plans in September, which included 45 billion pounds of unfunded tax cuts.

Consequently, those plans by Kwarteng led the market to a period of instability, pushing sterling to a record low against the U.S. dollar, forcing the BoE to intervene in the bond market, and ultimately costing the job of the British prime minister at the time, Liz Truss.

Georgieva said Hunt’s proposals, which would see taxes rise almost immediately but delay most spending cuts until after 2024, were an appropriate response at a time when the economy faced a challenging situation. This is according to Reuters.

“In a call with Chancellor Hunt today, I welcomed (Britain’s) Autumn Statement prepared at a difficult time for the UK economy, against strong global headwinds,” she said.