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Again, IMF scores Nigeria’s economy so poorly

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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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THE NATION

Digital Economy: NITDA launches ‘Smart Agric Platform’ to create jobs

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NITDA DG, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has launched a platform Smart Agro Business to connect Nigerians who are interested in investing in agro business.

The Director General of the Agency, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE said that Smart Agro Platform comprises of farmers, government agencies, agric experts, banks and micro-lenders, extension services, hardware solution providers, software developers, customers, marketplace, among others across the agric value chain.

He said, “This project was conceived in order to support Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami’s focus especially in making his dream reality towards turning the country into digital-driving economy and ensure the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which is end hunger and achieve good security by 2030.

The DG further noted that Smart Agro is the beginning of a transformation in the agriculture sector to enable farmers contribute effectively to the digital economy of Nigeria and create jobs for the teeming youths.

“What we did is to rethink agriculture differently, by creating a digital platform that will connect the Agric ecosystem and enable the possibility of new business models by the private sector which will, in turn, generate new products and services and create value across the Agric value chain,” he said.

He added that, “NITDA Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture (NAVSA) is a project conceived to create about 6 million jobs in the next 5 to 10 years through our technology platform.

According to NITDA desk officer department of e-Government development and regulation Lukman Lamid the idea is to support 25 graduates in each of the 774 LGAs on modern agric methods, give them the resources and the right technology to enable them to manage their farms from planting to harvesting and marketing.

“This pilot phase is a proof of concept which had witnessed selection, training and support of 15 graduates in Gombe state on modern farming methods in collaboration with National Agriculture Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS).

“We have developed a digital platform in which its mobile app components will continue to serve NITDA supported farmers, any other farmer and all the ecosystem members when it is fully ready.

Lamid noted that ability to get information to monitor farms in real-time and connect with resources to manage farm effectively will improve crop yield, quality of farm produce per block of land and profit for these farmers.

“In the future, we would deploy and integrate smart technologies such as IoT on the platform to improve the accuracy and the processes of getting information in real-time, integrate with GIS technologies, Artificial Intelligence, Big data analytics among other emerging technologies to add more value to the platform.

Lamid stated that the innovation is a product of research paper “Towards Diversification of Nigeria Economy through Smart Agriculture” published by the Minister in June 2017 in International Journal of Computer Science and Information Technology Research.

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THE NATION

Sowore: US senator flays FG, says Nigeria has no regards for rule of law

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Robert Menendez, a US senator

Robert Menendez, a US senator from New Jersey and member of the senate foreign relations committee, says the events surrounding the rearrest of Omoyele Sowore shows that Nigeria no longer has regards for the rule of law.

On Friday, operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) rearrested Sowore, convener of #RevolutionNow Movement, and Olawale Bakare, an activist, at the federal high court in Abuja less than 24 hours after they were released on the orders of the court.

There were rearrested less than 24 hours after their release after spending 124 days in detention.

Menendez, who said it seems President Muhammadu Buhari is not aware of what the secret police is “doing in his name”, added that Sowore ought to be celebrated and not incarcerated.

He said the development is unacceptable from a country that practices democracy, pushing for a reassessment of the bilateral relations between Nigeria and US.

“The United States is watching and the world is watching. I fear that the blatant harassment of Mr Omoyele Sowore, an activist and journalist whose only crime appears to be exercising his right to free expression, is becoming symptomatic of increasingly closing political and civic space in Nigeria,” Menendez said.

“The Nigerian court has twice ordered his release on bail. And the state security agencies openly defied the court order each time leaving me to conclude that either Nigeria no longer respects the rule of law or President Buhari is woefully out of touch with what agents of his governments are doing in his name.

“This is unacceptable in a country that calls itself a democracy. Journalists who risk their lives to expose the truth should be celebrated, not incarcerated.

“It is unacceptable to that the husband and father of a US citizen with such blatant cruelty. Today, my office contacted our ambassador in Nigeria in an effort to obtain answers on what actions the United States is taking on the Sowore family’s behalf.

“In the next several days, I’ll continue to engage with the states department in Washington to ascertain the impart of what the arrest of Mr Sowore and other activists and journalists will have on our relationship with Nigeria. My hope is that the bilateral relationship we have with Nigeria will be reassessed in light of these events.”

Last month, the lawmaker had written a letter to Sylvanus Nsofor, Nigeria’s ambassador to US, over the crack down on journalists and activists”.

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THE NATION

Edo Assembly declares 12 seats vacant

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Edo State House of Assembly on Wednesday declared 12 seats in the assembly vacant.

The seats declared vacant are those of members-elect who have refused to present themselves for inauguration into the 7th Assembly and two others who did not meet the mandatory sitting requirement to continue as members of the House.

The Speaker of the House, Mr Francis Okiye, said even if the affected members decided to resume, they would not be able to meet the mandatory 180 sitting days as enshrined in the constitution.

The affected 12 members-elect are Vincent Uwadiae- Ovia North-East 2; Ugiagbe Dumez -Ovia North-East 1; Washington Osifo-Uhunmwode; Victor Edoror-Esan Central; Kingsley Ugabi- Etsako East; and Michael Ohio-Ezomo Owan West.

Others are Sunday Aghedo-Ovia South-West; Chris Okaeben-Oredo West; Crosby Eribo-Egor: Aliyu Oshiomhole-Etsako West 2; Oshomah Ahmed -Etsako Central and Ganiyu Audu-Etsako West 1.

Okiye, while declaring the seats vacant, said the 12 members-elect refused to come forward to process the necessary documentation as part of the condition for their inauguration.

He said, “12 out of the 24 members-elect who completed their screening and documentation process were inaugurated on June 17, 2019 out of which two of them have refused to discharge their legislative duties.

“They have refused to represent their constituents in the House, invariably denying their constituents effective representation.

“At this point, I am declaring the seats of the 12 members-elect vacant in accordance with Section 109 Subsection 1F of the constitution.”

Okiye thereafter called on the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct by-elections for the affected constituencies within 90 days.

The Deputy Speaker of the House, Mr Yekini Idiaye, representing Akoko Edo State Constituency I, said the lawmakers arrived at the decision to declare the seats vacant following over 100 petitions and protests from the people of the constituencies who complained of neglect as a result of lack of representation by the members-elect.

But the spokesman of the affected lawmakers-elect, Mr Washington Osifo, said the action of the assembly was laughable.

He said, “It is a laughing matter because the matter is before the court and when a matter is before the court, such action is sub judice.

“We are challenging the illegal inauguration of the House and anything put on nothing cannot stand. So, Okiye is a man that is in search of identity, he is working with the governor in the pursuit of a blind ambition, they have hit the rock.”

He said the House also passed the 2020 Appropriation Bill and affirmed the removal of the suspended Chairman of Etsako East Local Government Area, Alhaji Aramiyau Momoh.

Other matter considered at the sitting, according to him, was the confirmation of the members of the board of the Edo State Internal Revenue Service.

-PUNCH

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