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Again, IMF scores Nigeria’s economy so poorly



Growth prospects in Africa are being held down by poor economic development in Nigeria, South Africa and Angola, the International Monetary Fund, IMF has said.

The Breton Woods institution, which said this at the Annual General Meetings of the IMF/World Bank currently going in Bali, Indonesia, also revised downwards growth prospects for Nigeria in 2018 from 2.1 per cent to 1.9 per cent.

Speaking to journalists in Bali, the Deputy Director, Research, IMF, Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, said the largest economies on the continent were holding down economic development in Africa as a result of poor growth rate.

“Nigeria’s growth, 1.9 per cent this year; 2.3 next year. South Africa, only 0.8 per cent this year; Angola, contracting by 0.1 per cent this year. So, the aggregate – over three per cent this year, close to four per cent next year – is despite the largest economies in the continent doing poorly.

“The continent could do much better once these economies are on a more solid footing, particularly South Africa and Nigeria, because they are really large and affect a number of countries in their neighbourhood.”

The IMF had in its World Economic Outlook report in July projected that Nigeria’s economy would grow by 2.1 per cent in 2018 and 2.3 per cent in 2019.

Also on Tuesday, it projected that inflation in Nigeria would increase to 13.5 per cent next year.

After 18 straight months of decline, the nation’s inflation rate rose to 11.23 per cent in August from 11.14 per cent in July, the National Bureau of Statistics said last month.

The IMF, in the WEO report, said inflation pressures in sub-Saharan Africa had broadly softened, with annual inflation projected to drop to 8.6 per cent in 2018 and 8.5 per cent in 2019, from 11 per cent in 2017.

It noted that in South Africa, inflation had moderated to 4.8 per cent from 5.3 per cent in 2017, with the easing of drought conditions, “but is expected to edge back to 5.3 per cent in 2019 as temporary disinflationary effects subside.”

The Washington-based fund said in Nigeria and Angola, tighter monetary policy and moderation in food price increases contributed to tapering inflation.

“In Nigeria, inflation is projected to fall to 12.4 per cent in 2018 from 16.5 per cent in 2017, and to rise to 13.5 per cent in 2019. In Angola, inflation is projected to fall to 20.5 per cent in 2018 from 29.8 per cent in 2017, and to decline further to 15.8 per cent in 2019,” it added.

According to the WEO report, growth is on the mend for sub-Saharan Africa, with the region’s average growth projected to rise to 3.1 per cent in 2018 (from 2.7 per cent in 2017) and 3.8 per cent in 2019.

The IMF said, “The growth forecast for 2018 is 0.3 percentage point lower than the April 2018 WEO forecast. The acceleration relative to 2016–17 reflects a more supportive external environment, including stronger global growth, higher commodity prices, and improved capital market access, following efforts to improve fiscal balances in the aftermath of the commodity price slump.

“Growth performance varies, however, across countries. About half of the expected pickup in growth between 2017 and 2018 reflects the growth rebound in Nigeria. Nigeria’s growth is projected to increase from 0.8 per cent in 2017 to 1.9 per cent in 2018 and 2.3 per cent in 2019 (0.4 percentage point higher than in the April 2018 WEO for 2019), buoyed by the impact of recovering oil production and prices.

“In Angola, the region’s second largest oil exporter, real GDP is expected to shrink by 0.1 per cent in 2018, following a 2.5 per cent contraction in 2017, but is projected to increase by 3.1 per cent in 2019.”

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Coronavirus: Ogun govt quarantines 28 who had contacts with Italian



The Ogun State government has said that 28 people who had contact with the Italian victim of the Coronavirus disease have been identified and quarantined. The Witness reports.

The government also said the firm where the victim visited in Ewekoro has been shut down.

The state Governor, Dapo Abiodun, disclosed this, on Friday, while addressing newsmen on the update of the Coronavirus incident in the state.

The governor said efforts were on to identify more contacts to curb the spread of the disease.

Abiodun said, “The particular company in question has been practically shut down and they have set up two isolation centres within the premises.

“They have identified all those that have been in contact with this index, totalling about 28. All those 28 people have been quarantined.”

Earlier, the Commissioner for Health in the state, Dr Tomi Coker, said the victim, whose name was not given, fell ill in a cement company in Ewekoro, where he visited for a business engagement from Italy.

Coker while explaining how the 44-year-old Italian victim entered the state said, “In the last 12 hours, the first case of the chronic virus has been identified in Nigeria and the individual was visiting Ogun State.

“The individual is of Italian origin and he is a consultant to the Lafarge, Ewekoro factory.”

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Coronavirus infected Italian visited our plant – Lafarge Cement



Coronavirus infected Italian visited our plant - Lafarge Cement

One of Nigeria’s largest cement manufacturers, Lafarge Africa Plc, has confirmed that an Italian, who is the first case of Coronavirus in Nigeria, indeed visited its plant in Ewekoro, Ogun State.

The confirmation was contained in a statement sent to The Witness on Friday by its Director, Communications, Public Affairs and Sustainable Development, Folashade Ambrose-Medebem.

The statement, which expressed gratitude to the Federal, Lagos and Ogun States Governments, also listed steps being taken by the company to prevent the infection of the staff of the company who came in contact with the yet-to-be-named Italian.

The statement said: “The Lagos State Government has reported a first case of n-COVID19 (Coronavirus) in Nigeria.

The individual concerned works for a vendor that provides services to Lafarge Africa Plc in Ogun State. As a business, we have immediately identified the persons who had direct contact with the concerned individual. We have equally initiated isolation, quarantine and disinfection protocol.

“We thank the exemplary leadership of the federal ministry of health, Ogun and Lagos State Governments for swiftly providing response and testing facilities and we are working in full co-operation with all local authorities. Lafarge Africa is also working in close partnership with International SOS, our medical service provider, a leading global health company.

“Health and Safety remains a core value at Lafarge Africa and we intend to leverage this strength at this critical time.”
Lafarge Africa Plc is a member of the LafargeHolcim Group, the biggest building and concrete solutions company in the world.

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Coronavirus: Sanwo-Olu speaks on how Lagos govt diagnosed patient, allays panic



Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotosho at the briefing at government House, Ikeja, Lagos on Friday

Lagos State Government has raised its level of response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) incident, following a reported case of a patient diagnosed with the infectious viral disease in the State in the early hours of Friday. This is coming, just as the Chief Incident Commander and the State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, offered more information on how the patient was identified and efforts currently being made to prevent the spread of the virus.

The patient, Sanwo-Olu said, is an Ogun State-based expatriate who flew into Lagos from Milan in Italy via Istanbul, Turkey last Monday evening. The Governor said the patient, whose name was not disclosed, remained in stable condition at the bio-security facility in Yaba, Lagos Mainland, where he is being isolated.

It was gathered that the patient, although, tested positive to COVID-19 virus, he is yet to show any respiratory symptoms at press time. He complained of fever and body pain, which prompted his transfer from Ogun State to Lagos for advanced medical investigation.

Sanwo-Olu said a number of persons, who had physical contact with the patient before the virus was diagnosed, are being traced, while others are currently being examined for possible symptoms.

The Governor shared these details during a first press conference held on Friday at the State House in Marina to brief the public on the matter. Top State officials at the conference included Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, Commissioner for Agriculture, Hon. Gbolahan Lawal, Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Folashade Jaji and Director General of Lagos State Safety Commission, Mr. Lanre Mojola.

Sanwo-Olu said there should be no cause for panic among Nigerians over the reported COVID-19 incident, stressing that measures had been set in motion by the State and Federal governments to contain the spread of the virus across the country. He particularly allayed the fear of Lagos residents, saying the two bio-security facilities in the State had the capability to contain the virus.

He said: “At 10pm on Thursday, I got a call from Commissioner for Health, who reported possible identification of patient with coronavirus in Ogun State. Immediately, we triggered all levels of bio-security responses and containment facilities. After series of laboratory examination, the patient was confirmed to have tested positive to the virus in early hours of today (Friday) and we immediately alerted the federal authorities, including the President and everybody who needs to be aware. We are in constant touch with the company where the patient was engaged. The management and personnel of the company have been cooperative.

“Health workers and emergency officials are on the field to track all persons that had physical contacts and interaction with the patient. Our bio-security facilities have been fortified to continue any form of test and contain any other potential case. We are in constant touch with the Federal Ministry of Health to harmonise our response to the incident. For us in Lagos, we are doing anything that needs to be done. The patient is stable and every health intervention required is currently being given to him.”

On how the patient scaled through health screening at the Lagos airport without being detected, Sanwo-Olu said investigation showed the virus did not materialised in the patient at the time he passed through the airport. The incident, he said, prompted the Government to immediately trigger advanced end-to-end screening for passengers flying into Nigeria, especially from high-risk countries.

The Governor said there would not be prohibition of public gatherings and regular activities in Lagos despite the diagnosed case of COVID-19, pointing out that such measure may give rise to needless panic among the general public. He said the condition of the patient was not “highly contagious” at the moment, adding that the State would only ban outdoor gatherings in the case of escalation in person-to-person transmission of the virus.

He said: “It is only when there is a high level of escalation that the public can be panicky and this is when we realise that it is getting to person-to-person transmission. As we have said, this isolated case has been contained right from the hospital where he was first admitted and the guesthouse he slept after his arrival in Nigeria. It is when there is a person-to-person infection that we can trigger another level of isolation and curtail public events where large number of people can gather. I don’t think we have gotten to that level yet.”

Sanwo-Olu also cleared the air on why the patient was transferred to Lagos after the incident was reported in Ogun State, saying the Federal Government only established testing centres to prevent to coronavirus in States that have international airports. Lagos, the Governor said, is only State in the Southwest that has testing centres. He said the State was also considered based on its sophisticated bio-security facilities, which were established during the outbreak of Ebola virus.

Prof. Abayomi explained how the diagnosis was carried out, following the patient’s complaint of fever and body pain. He said the patient started to show signs of illness on Wednesday afternoon, after which he was presented at the Ogun State-based firm’s hospital where investigation began.

He said: “Investigation began at the hospital after the patient gave history of his trip to Nigeria. The medical personnel at the company’s hospital kept the patient in isolation overnight and contacted us at the bio-security in Lagos for assistance. We immediately asked them to transfer the case to Lagos. The patient was brought to our high-containment in Yaba on Thursday morning.

“Immediately the patient arrived, he was put in proper isolation and appropriate tests were conducted on him. Within hours, we received signals that the laboratory tests were showing signs of positivity. At that point, we informed the Federal Minister of Health and Governor Sanwo-Olu, who is the Chief Incident Commander in Lagos.”

The Health Commissioner said the patient was responding well under a supportive therapy, saying efforts were on to identify all persons that had physical contact with the patient to break the cycle of transmission.

He disclosed that the State remained prepared to contain potential spread of the virus, observing that Lagos had wrapped up the capacity of its containment facility to 80-bed as a result of the emergency funds released by the Governor.

Prof. Abayomi said more capabilities were being put in place by the State to deal with increase number of cases. He said aggressive public awareness campaign was going on to sensitise residents on hygiene and activities that can prevent the spread of virus.

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