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CBN: 60% of N220bn SMEs fund allotted to women



The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said that 60 per cent of what has been disbursed from its N220 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEDF), was allocated to women-based enterprises .
The apex bank said the gesture was a deliberate decision taken to increase women’s access to credit.


Director, Development Finance Department, CBN, Dr Mudashiru Olaitan said this yesterday in Abuja at the CBN 2018 International Women’s Day workshop tagged, “Women Inspiring Change”.


He gave the bank’s commitment to improve women’s access to formal financial services especially credit through its various intervention programmes.
Olaitan was represented by Mrs Hadiza Maina, a senior Development Finance Officer at the CBN.


She said the CBN was well inclined to promoting women’s access to finance to enable them play their expected role in economic development.


He said that promoting gender equality in access to finance meant that 50 per cent of the population would be empowered to contribute effectively to economic development.
To this end, he said that the banking watchdog had allocated resources through different programmes dedicated to women alone.


“Access to finance is often cited as one of the major factors impeding the growth of women-owned businesses in developing countries,” he said.

“In view of the peculiar challenges faced by women in accessing financial services in Nigeria, the CBN has established the N220 MSMEDF, Agric credit guarantees scheme, Anchor Borrowers Programme and financial inclusion programmes.


“These are innovative ways of improving women’s access to finance at mainly single digit interest rate, which will improve their potentials for job creation and inclusive growth on our country.”


He reiterated the banking watchdog’s commitment in growing the real sector and diversifying the revenue base through these schemes, initiatives and programmes.

Meanwhile, the Special Adviser to the CBN Governor on Sustainable Banking, Dr Aisha Mahmood, said that women were key to the economic development of Nigeria.


“In recognition of the centrality of women’s empowerment and gender equality to the realization of sustainable development, the Nigerian Financial Sector included women empowerment, human rights and financial inclusion in the NSBP,” she said.


.”CBN has a holistic approach and long-term commitment to the economic empowerment of women – to acknowledge that achieving women’s empowerment, gender equality and women’s human rights are prerequisite for Sustainability Development” .


“No country will achieve its full growth potential when half of its growth reserve – the women -are under-utilized. It is as a result of this that CBN developed gender – responsive intervention programmes.”


The CBN, she said, “believe that investing in women’s economic empowerment is a direct path towards Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Inclusive Economic Growth” .


A 2016 report by Elfina, a U.K. Government project on Access to Financial Services in Nigeria, showed that 21.4 million females, that is 42.7 per cent of the total female population in Nigeria were financially excluded.

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We’ll use dialogue to resolve myriads of problems in maritime industry–Nwabunike



Hon. Iju Tony Nwabunike last week emerged the new National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) in the election held in Enugu. Nwabunike, who is the Managing Director of Mac- Tonnel Nigeria Limited, and pioneer chairman of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), in this interview with PAUL OGBUOKIRI, he speaks on the programmes of his administration. He insists that there are more civilized ways of addressing issues not lockouts.


ANLCA’s national elections have come and gone; what does your victory entail for members?


My victory is not only for members of ANLCA but is also a victory for all because it will bring about total emancipation from foreigners, who have taken over our businesses and jobs for our people. It is total emancipation from the unwholesome activities of some government agencies that do not want to play the game by the rules.


It is victory for all the operational challenges faced by our people in the course of doing their legitimate businesses. We will ensure that freight forwarders and customs brokerage agents are seen as professionals and not dropouts.


We will embark on an aggressive training and re-training of our members to make them globally competitive in their operational activities. We will enthrone a regime of international best practice for our members and also network with international bodies and agencies in terms of training and re-training our members on international best practice. You will see a total re-organisation of the customs brokerage and freight forwarding profession in Nigeria.


There is this clamour for ceding certain percentage of import duties collected by the customs brokerage agents. What is your take on this?


We will interface with the National Assembly in many areas. One of them is making input into the import guidelines of the country since we are directly involved. Secondly, since we generate the revenue for the Nigeria Customs Service in terms of import duties and other fees and levies collection, it will not be out of place if our welfare is taken care of in the process of doing this.


There may be challenges and difficulties at the beginning, but we will triumph in the end. We will seek adequate reward from government agencies for our members, in doing all these; we will apply dialogue and consultations not confrontation. This is why we will partner the National Assembly with a view to creating the needed legal framework.



A lot of freight forwarders and customs brokerage agencies are not computerised. What do you intend to do about this, especially in terms of helping them acquire modern Information and Communication Technology (ICT)?

First and foremost, we will put in place a wonderful and ICT compliant secretariat for the association. Like I told you earlier, the new executive will train and retrain members on international best practice, in international trade business. ICT would form part of this training and capacity building programme.


We are considering exploring the possibility of guaranteeing loans from Micro Finance Banks to enable them acquire modern ICT equipment that would ease their jobs and by so doing enhance professional efficiency. How would you relate with the Federal Government in terms of international trade policies that affect freight forwarders and customs brokerage agents? Like I told you earlier, caution will be our watchword and so we will employ dialogue not confrontation and lockouts. We will employ every legitimate and modern means of addressing issues.


For instance, we would want to make inputs into fiscal policies that affect us, especially fixing tariffs and charges, we will dialogue with relevant government agencies in this direction. For instance, we believe that the government should revisit the issue of the 41 items blacklisted from accessing foreign exchange through the official market.


We also think that the government should at this time review its vehicle import policy, especially the ban on the importation of vehicles through the land borders. Everyone knows that this policy has not achieved its desired objectives for obvious reasons.


So it is high time the government allowed the importation of vehicles through the land borders, especially Seme and Idiroko but efforts must be made to ensure that appropriate duty is paid on any vehicle so imported.


We will also seek a review of import tariff and charges for some staple foods consumed mostly by the poor masses such as rice, tomato puree. It is commendable that the government is trying to encourage local production of such products, but we propose that in situations where locally produced ones cannot meet the needs of the over 180 million Nigerians, the shortfall should be imported, at least until the country is self -sufficient in the production of such items.


What would be the association’s relationship with the Nigerian Shippers Council?


As a regulatory agency of the government, ANLCA under my watch will liaise with the Nigerian Shippers Council to check some of the excesses of shipping companies and terminal operators.

The current rampant cases of imposition of arbitrary levies and charges by terminal operators and shipping companies would no longer be tolerated. We will not allow a situation whereby you wake-up in the morning and find out that the entire charges have been reviewed upwards without any form of negotiation or all the notice to that effect.


It is also a well- known fact that our jobs are being taken away by foreign customs brokerage agents, Customs officers and even members of the Nigerian Plant Quarantine Service today do clearing jobs at the ports.


We will not sit and allow all these to continue and so we will device mechanisms to ensure that all these anomalies are corrected. Cargo clearing business must be done in Nigeria the same way it is done elsewhere including neighbouring African countries and indeed all over the world. So we will take a critical look at these issues, activities of shipping companies, terminal operators and even bonded terminals and other service providers at the ports



There is a disagreement between the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) and ANLCA over Practitioners Operating Fee (POF). What is your take on it?


You know ANLCA is currently in court with the CRFFN, but we will resolve all that through dialogue. The new Executive Council of the association would take urgent steps to resolve the debacle. We will seek legal advice from the legal department of the association as well as from independent sources with a view to urgently resolving the crisis. There must be a way forward.


How would you relate with other members of the various associations in the industry?


You will recall that the immediate past president of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) was at the venue of the election that saw my emergence. So I have a good rapport with all of them. We need to speak with one voice. We will synergise with the Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) and even the association of Registered Freight Forwarders (AREFF), among others.

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‘Radio can be used to check herdsmen/farmers’ clashes’



Mrs. Alison Data Phido is the Executive Director, African Radio Drama Association (ARDA). ARDA was launched in Nigeria in 1996 and has more than 30 radio stations across the country. She speaks with FLORA ONWUDIWE on some of their executed projects in form of drama and jingles which have been syndicated to other countries in Africa and broadcast on the BBC in Hausa. Mrs. Phido also suggested the methodology to put an end to Fulani herdsmen and farmers’ clashes


What informed establishing the African Radio Drama Association (ARDA)?


The ARDA was established in faraway Harare, Zimbabwe. It was during a development communication symposium of people who are interested in using radio to the development of communications. It has scholars; radio producers, actors, presenters, even some development people, people who are working in health, agriculture and so on.


So, it was a symposium that was looking at ways we can communicate better with our populations on several development areas and problems that we have in Africa. It wasn’t just Africans; we had people from Asia, Philippines and the Caribbean. There were people who are passionate about what the most accessible medium is and how we can use it so that people will really benefit from it. Those of us who went from Nigeria were amazed at the sheer possibilities of how one can use a simple medium like radio to achieve so much in terms of development. We were amazed because at that time, radio was no longer an attractive medium.

If you were born in the 50s, or grew up in the 60s and 70s, you saw the impact of radio. In the 90s, television had taken over and videos were the in thing. And the reasons were not far-fetched. But even in the developed countries, radio is still very important to them; so why is it not that way in Nigeria. We knew at that time the radio had become deregulated so even the private radio stations had programming that was nothing to write home about.


Mostly, they were playing a lot of music and advertisements. Nobody was spending money producing programmes anymore. But in other countries, you hear about people using radio dramas to promote agriculture, make people think about family planning, better reproductive health; they are using radio drama to promote girl child education. We saw what people were doing with radio and we said, why can’t we do the same in Nigeria, Africa. So the association was born.



What are those contents that affect Nigeria that you are using radio to promote?


Think about all the indexes of under- development; education, good governance, democracy, democratic principles, accountability, corruption. We talk about reproductive health matters, children’s health, nutrition in families, female genital mutilation, widows’ dispossession, and child’s rights. Under gender inequality, we talk about sexual responsibility issues, HIV/AIDs and Malaria.


The issue raised was that people in the rural areas are mostly affected. When you take some of these executed projects to them, the barrier is language; how do you communicate for them to have an impact of ARDA’s project?


We speak in the language that they understand. We do this simply because our methodology starts from who we think the beneficiaries are. For example, in a particular location, they have an issue that they feel that we can help them address; we start by researching, talking and engaging them in trying to find solutions to whatever issues they have. We normally package our programmes in the languages of those people and that is the beauty of radio to be honest. Because if you are low literate or illiterate and you don’t have access to print medium, you cannot understand or read or write. But then people are speaking your language on radio, you will understand them. That is why radio is accessible because even for low literate people, at least it is oral, so we try as much possible to speak to people in the language that they understand and that is why we define our audience first of all.



The issue of reproductive or maternal health is predominantly in the rural areas for lack of facilities and lack of education. The Lagos State Government seems to be more involved, does ARDA work with states?


In every state where we worked, we tried to get the states to key in. If you want things to be sustainable, you have to look at what you have on ground; what is the structure. Maternal health for instance is an issue that they want to address. Many states have family planning units or maternity unit; they have all kinds of programmes that look at addressing maternal health. Nigeria is one of the countries that has very high maternal mortality rate. We are one of those countries that have more women dying just because they are pregnant or delivering a baby. Many countries have reduced incidences of maternal mortality. We are still on the high side.



Do you syndicate some of these projects you execute in Nigeria to other countries in Africa?


Yes we do. We have worked on several Hausa and Fulani projects before. I mention those in particular because if you look at West Africa, Hausa is spoken by populations in several of these countries. For instance, Hausa is spoken in Niger, Cameroun, Mali, Ghana and across the coast, you have pockets of Hausa populations; so you have a lot of international radio stations having Hausa service. We broadcast in the past on BBC Hausa service, Deutchvelle in Fatuwan; a radio drama series that we had in Hausa called ‘Asuga Ategiri’ for several years. That is to show you the reach as we were getting comments and letters from Libya, Sudan, Cote d’ Ivoire, Ghana, Niger among others. We also belong to a network that was set up by an organisation called the Panos West Africa. They support the community radio stations and many countries have hundreds of them. Nigeria is still a new thing here. In Ghana, Mali and Niger, they all have community radio stations and they want contents and they beg for contents. What Panos does is try and get people who are building content to try and contribute to its bank. Once these programmes are in the bank, any radio station can use them.



When the initiative was launched in 1996, did you know that you would go this far?



I knew that we would go even further than where we are now because it was a huge and very big vision. I saw the number one development communication entity, development communication agency on the continent. That was what I thought this organisation is going to be because there has never been anything like it; we have advertising agencies and other media agencies but there are no development communication organisations.



ARDA is made up of experts with cross cultural perspective. What does this mean?


We have the expertise in ARDA that is always a little bit more than what other people have to offer. For example, we have staff or associates from advertising background, which means they are experts in how to package communication to motivate people to buy something; either idea or products. We have people who are producers of media materials, film producers or radio producers, scriptwriters, trainers who can facilitate any workshop or people who can come up with a curriculum or any kind of training.


The edge we have above other people is every single person here has a developmental background. A developmental background gives a different perspective, knowledge and awareness.



Most Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) usually fold up after a while for lack of fund, but ARDA waxes stronger; the bride of long list of foreign donors, grants and support from within. What is the secret that has kept the organisation afloat for other founders of NGOs to take a cue from?


Some NGOs have come and gone, most of them could be lack of funds, and some may have completed whatever they mandated for themselves to do. But for ARDA, we had a vision for an enduring organisation. So when you had that kind of a vision, you set it up from the beginning to have those characteristics that will make an enduring organisation. What are the things that make an organization stay? When you study organisations that are there for decades there are certain significant characteristics. I think the main thing is that, there is a niche for the kind of services we are offering, because even in the developed countries, communicating development is something that is ongoing. There are things that you are always going to communicate to your community population, so the niche we have carved for ourselves is something that we needed that will always be an important service. So for developing countries, the issues are numerous, there are some long standing matters that still need to be communicated. The other things that made us to survive till now and for us to be attractive to donors as well as partner organizations are two folds; we do quality work that they can see the value, success and impact of some of the things we had done in the past. We have structures in place to manage funds that we do receive, which means that a donor is confident that they gave us money. There is nothing that donors love more than having structures, checks and balances, like having a supervisory board, are they meeting, do you have audited accounts, those are the things that make people part with their money. Also, another source of our income is we do consultancies.



You said you had a project where you had to educate the Fulani herdsmen, what kind of project was that?


It was a project on Climate Change; an adaptation to Climate Change. Why we worked with the herdsmen is because of the constant conflict between the herdsmen and farmers in the country over resources. Because it is about the distribution of resources, scarce resources and the natural habitat of the herdsmen, the Sahel region of the country is very dry now. Many people can tell you how far the desert has encroached into our country. So you can imagine the Sahel being the driest. We also have the Guinea Sudan areas, which is coming down almost to Benue, Guinea Savannah regions, so you find during the dry season, that there is hardly adequate water and greenery or food for the cattle and most of the breeders that raise cows are nomadic. If there is no food they move South west, until the rains begin and they go back. It is the way that they have always traditionally done their work.


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Glo-sponsored African Voices dedicates this week’s edition to photography



This week’s edition of Globacom-sponsored African Voices on CNN International is all about photographers that are influencing the continent behind the scenes from the camera.


With the theme “Through the Lens”, the 30-minute magazine programme will feature Gerald Rambert of Mauritius, Omar Victor Diop of Senegal and Adnen Chaouchi of Tunisia.


Globacom in a press statement urged viewers to watch African Voices on CNN at 7 a.m. and 4.30 p.m. on Saturday and at 12.30 a.m., 4.30 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Sunday. Further repeats will also run at 5 a.m. on Monday and at 10.30 a.m. on Tuesday.


According to the company, the CCN crew will take a dive with the Mauritian photographer, Rambert, as he introduces viewers to the world of deep sea photography.

He discloses how his big passion for the fish and the sea led him to spending hours in the water and finally to underwater photography. He is today the photographer for many magazines.


The Senegalese photographer, Omar Diop, is a graduate of the Paris Business School who worked in several multinationals before abandoning his corporate job to devote himself to photography. Viewers will find out how he is blurring the lines between photography and painting.


The final guest on the programme is a journalist and radio host who CNN said is changing the way news is consumed through mobile journalism. He is expected to talk about how he combines his job as a journalist with television production.

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