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FG to raise farmers under insurance coverage to 3.8m

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The Federal Government plans to increase the number of farmers under insurance coverage from 500,000 to 3.8 million through the recently launched index-based agricultural insurance scheme.
It also plans to announce series of incentives aimed at promoting agriculture value chain across the country
Managing Director of the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), Aliyu Abdulhameed, made these known in Abuja at the opening of training workshop on index insurance product design, evaluation and risk transfer. The forum was organised by NAICOM in conjunction with International Finance Corporation (IFC) an arm of World Bank group.
“We have made significant investments in technology solutions and innovations to reduce counter chances of risks occurring in agricultural projects that we support. For instance, we have piloted the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to carry out field verification so that only viable lands are utilized for agriculture,” he said.
“Using satellite imagery, we remotely monitor crop performance and growth. We deploy drones and geospatial monitoring devices to the field to detect and provide early warnings on field deviations. These measures help to promptly trigger required remediation actions to protect expected farm output and prevent unwarranted pay-outs by the insurance companies.
“A key aspect of our plan is to increase insurance coverage from the current level of about 0.5 million to 3.8million agricultural primary producers. In this regard, we are nurturing local and international partnerships to make this happen. We recently signed a partnership agreements with a leading Moroccan agricultural insurance as well as and reinsurance company to provide technical support in expanding the range of agricultural insurance products in Nigeria.”
Abdulhammed said that the four agencies would also develop insurance schemes to help end the persistent farmer-herder clashes, noting that the agency’s operations were anchored on five pillars.
“These are risk sharing facility pillar ($300 million), insurance pillar ($30 million), technical assistance pillar ($60 million), rating pillar ($10 million) and incentives pillar ($100 million),” he noted.
He said the agency has opened discussions with Royal Exchange Assurance, NIMET and CELLULANT for the development of a technology-driven Hybrid Index Insurance product that will include the Area Yield Index, Weather Index, and Price Index Insurance.
“We are currently also, exploring innovative insurance products for livestock to help stem the tide of herdsmen versus farmers clash. Acre Africa of Kenya is a major partner,” he said.
In a similar development, Commissioner for Insurance and CEO of NAICOM Alhaji Mohammed Kari, said index insurance is a new concept to Nigeria hence the need for capacity building to enhance progress in our drive to achieve efficiency and effectiveness in index- based agric insurance in Nigeria.
“Our drive in this regard is tending with the ongoing effort of this present administration to diversify the economy and create opportunities to promote agricultural business and youth empowerment and index based agric insurance is one program that is in support of this policy of the government “ he said.
“For us at the national insurance commission, we desire to create penetration and market growth. We have embraced index based agric insurance as a strategic initiative for insurance penetration as well as contribution to the development of agriculture.”
He disclosed that in the last one year, NAICOM has played active role in promoting access to agricultural finance.
He added:” There is need to request for further support from our partners especially in the areas of facilitation of compressive feasibility study on pilot bases, technical assistance on the provision of historical weather index data, technical capacity building to our regulatory persons who should be learned in product design, risk modeling , capital management, design of regulatory and supervisory framework, development of frameworks and guidelines for index based insurance regulation and supervision of operations, training and educational programs for key agricultural staff.”
Kari however, expressed his delight that the collaboration between NAICOM, Africa Re, IFC has already achieved product approval for five insurance companies who are participating in the pilot scheme.
In his remarks, Chief Executive Officer of Africa Re, Mr. Karekezi Corneille, represented by the Managing Director Africa Re, Ken Aghoghovbia, noted that food security is becoming a major concern for policy makers, especially in developing countries.
“You will recall that during the first decade following independence, Nigeria stood out as one of the world’s most promising agricultural producers. Not only was the country largely self-sufficient and food secure, it also thrived in global markets ranking as the world’s largest producer of palm oil,” he said.
“Today, Nigeria has lost that enviable position largely due to a shift in focus whereas several other countries are thriving, buoyed by various models of subsidy. Agriculture in Africa is generally dominated by smallholder farmers and pastoralists who do not appreciate what insurance can do for their business. Even the ones that do either lack the confidence that insurers will easily settle their claims or can barely afford the insurance premium. Thus, subsides on index products in agriculture insurance have a lot of promise in the continent.
“At Africa Re, we believe that it is critical to support agricultural self-sufficiency within Africa, and that is why we are working with the international finance corporation of the World Bank group and other stakeholders to promote agriculture insurance in the continent. “This workshop being driven by NAICOM therefore is a welcome development, which we hope will be embraced by all Nigerians.”
Mrs Essien Emem, Country Director, international financial corporation (IFC) in her remarks, said Nigeria is a critically important country for IFC, which is the largest investor in emerging market.

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Dangote: Businesses, residents lose N86bn daily to Apapa gridlock

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Businesses and residents are losing N86 billion to Apapa-Wharf road gridlock daily, Africa’s richest man and President/CEO, Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, has said.
He stated this in Lagos while condemning the challenges posed by traffic jam and heavy presence of different types of taskforce, including the Customs, on the major route leading to the nation’s largest port.
Dangote, who was on an inspection tour of the on-going reconstruction of N4.3 billion Apapa-Wharf road by AG Dangote recently, stated that businesses and residents are losing 20 times the project’s cost daily.
By calculation, N86 billion is being lost by business owners and residents on daily basis.

He said: “People don’t really understand how much money businesses are losing because of the gridlock here; if you quantify it in billions, it is 20 times the cost of this project every single day.”
Consequently, he urged the Federal Government to move the taskforce, including Customs, away from the route to ease traffic.
The reconstruction of the road that leads to Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports is being undertaken by Dangote Group, Nigerian Flour Mill Limited and the Nigeria Port Authority (NPA), which are together committing N4.34 billion to the project.

Justifying the involvement of his company in sponsoring the project, Managing Director, Flour Mills Limited, Paul Gbadedo, lamented that it has been difficult for businesses and residents of Apapa.
Noting that the economy of Apapa is very huge, he said that businesses cannot see the traffic and road deteriorating without doing something.
He stated that 75 to 80 per cent of imports passed through the Apapa ports, noting that the road is strategic.

Dangote stressed that it did not make any commercial sense for Customs to mount check points outside the wharf after they might have checked and certified goods at the ports.
“If there should be any more checkpoints, they should be at the toll gates, not here where they are obstructing traffic flow,” he said.

Africa’s richest man said he was impressed with the progress and quality of work being done by AG Dangote, the contractor handling the reconstruction of the road.
He also lauded the palliative work going on on Apapa Oshodi Expressway and the Trailer Park being constructed by government off the expressway, pointing out that these were efforts being made to ensure that the access roads to the ports are decongested.

“My impression of this road has changed because AG Dangote is doing a great and excellent work here. You can see the quality of work being done. This is quite impressive. Even in Germany, you cannot see this kind of quality of road. This road can last at least two generations in which case you will be talking about over 60 years. It is so solid that it can take any weight and any traffic,” Dangote said.
“I can assure you that we will double our efforts to complete the project on schedule, that is, latest by the end of June,” he said.

Chief Executive, AG Dangote, Ajif Juma, stated that the company is facing a lot of challenges, citing traffic and gas pipeline as major ones.
“But now we are working hard to ensure we finish on schedule with some of our workers on night shift,” he said.

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CBN to banks: Settle customers’ complaints within 2 weeks

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Deposit Money Banks ( DMBs) and other financial Institutions have been directed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to settle customers’ complaints on issues of overcharge, unauthorised deductions and other matters within two weeks.

CBN Head of Complaints management Division, Mr Tajudeen Ahmed, conveyed the Apex Bank’s directive in Abuja. He said the regulator would ensure that bank customers receive redress on issues of excess charges or unauthorised withdrawal.

Ahmed reiterated the CBN’s commitment to eradicating the culture of excess and arbitrary charges. According to him, the CBN has since issued a circular,which could be found on the its website showing all legitimate bank charges. He explained that any charge outside what is contained in the circular was not allowed and should not be charged.

“The Consumer Protection Department issued guidelines to banks dated August 16, 2011, directing all banks and other financial institutions to resolve all customer complaints within two weeks of receipt of that complaint,” he said. “Before the expiration of that complaint, the financial institution is expected to be engaging the customer on a continuous basis to update him or her on the status of the complaint. “If it is not resolved within the deadline given, then such a person is encouraged to draw the attention of Central Bank of Nigeria to find solution to that complaint.”

Ahmed enjoined customers with unresolved complaints to contact the CBN by writing to the Director Consumer Protection Department. He also advised disgruntled bank customers to visit any branch of the CBN closest to them to lay their complaints.

“The CBN continually engages the banks to find out if their conducts and practices are fair to their customers in order to stimulate people’s confidence in the banking system. “Non-adherence to that normally results to regulatory sanctions as the case may be,” he said.

Ahmed faulted banks for setting a limit on ATM withdrawals to get customers to make several withdrawals to cash large sums. “I have also observed and noted this. Don’t forget that at the beginning, it wasn’t like this. Over time, we started having this problem.

“One of the reasons is that the quantum of N500 denomination is much more than that of N1,000 denomination,” he said. “When we approached the banks about these problems, they said that the machines become easily faulty when it is set to dispense up to N30, 000 to N40, 000 units.

“However, CBN has directed that the machines that allow payment of up to N30,000 to N50,000 should be installed. “This is still ongoing. The Banking and Payment Department of the CBN is championing it.” In her remarks, Head, Consumer Protection Department, Mrs Hadija Kasim, admonished bank customers to imbibe cashless policy.

“Let’s not forget that ATM cards can also be used on Point of Sale (POS) terminals. We are encouraging people that unless it is absolutely necessary, they should reduce the carriage of cash. Cashless transactions are more convenient, safer and you will avoid the problem of overcharges,” she said. She advised bank consumers to use bank transfer channels for transactions in cases where sellers do not have POS.

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Business

DAAR Communications commends retired workers

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The Management of DAAR Communications Plc has announced the retirement of some members of staff of the organization with effect from Feb 2018.
A statement made available to New Telegraph said those affected had served the organisation between 20 and 25 years.

According to the statement, the Chairman and the Board of the media outfit commended and appreciated the retirees’ pioneering efforts, the outstanding, remarkable contributions and all the personal efforts to the organisation right from inception in 1993/1996.

“They made their respective indelible marks in their respective departments, which cumulatively made the broadcast stations of the organisation not only household names but also a reference point in broadcasting in the Federal Republic of Nigeria and indeed the continent of Africa.
“As they gracefully move into another stage in their respective lives, we wish them the very best and a most successful future endeavor,” the statement added.

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