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BoI reaffirms commitment to women-led businesses



The Bank of Industry (BoI) has reaffirmed its commitment to women-led businesses for enhanced economic growth and development.

Managing Director, BoI, Mr Olukayode Pitan, said this at the bank’s International Women’s Day (IWD) Conference 2023 with the theme: “Embrace Equity,” on Monday in Lagos.

Pitan said that the country would not experience sustainable development without adequate women empowerment.

He disclosed that as of Dec. 2022, the bank had disbursed N73 billion to women-owned businesses across various sectors of the economy.

Pitan added that the bank had developed and strengthened various strategic partnerships to support the cause of women apart from providing financial and business advisory services.

He said that the bank had disbursed $4.5 million out of a commitment of $10 million in Alitheia IDF Fund.

Alitheia Fund is a $100 million investment equity fund, which provides financial support to women-led organisations across various sectors.

He listed the sectors as hygiene and personal care, healthy food, snacks, education supplies and humanitarian/relief products.

“We are also the local execution partner for the Islamic Development Bank’s Business Resilience Assistance for Value Adding Services (BRAVE) programme in Nigeria.

“This is a $14.27 million initiative that was designed to support women-owned businesses, particularly those living in economically disadvantaged areas, arising from conflicts and social unrest.

“So far, the bank has achieved the disbursement of N2.9 billion to 322 beneficiaries in the pilot states of Kano, Gombe and Edo.

“We have also partnered with key women organisations, such as Women in Successful Careers and Women in Management, Business and Public Service.

“These organisations work with us to support gender advocacy and empowerment by providing capacity-building and mentorship training to ensure women’s representation in public, private, and political leadership positions.

“As part of our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, we have collaborated with several other non-profit organisations in supporting women businesses,” he said.

Speaking on the IWD theme, Pitan said the subject of equity was relevant to every sphere of life adding that inequity had marginalised women.

He stated that the current era of digital transformation provides more opportunities to eliminate gender inequality and make adequate infrastructural facilities available to foster social inclusion and integration for the disabled.

Pitan noted a lot of attention had been placed on advocacy and investment in education, economic and political empowerment programmes in achieving gender equality.

He stressed the need to better understand the challenges that women encounter either at the home front or at work, to ensure an effective and sustainable solution.

“While gender equality is primarily focused on providing both sexes with equal opportunities, gender equity works to correct the historical wrongs that have left women behind such as cultural restrictions on education, employment and others.

“‘Embracing equity can be achieved by making deliberate efforts to scale-up the representation of women in leadership and policy-making roles.

“I, therefore, urge us all not to rest on our oars, as we continuously speak to ensure a level playing field for everyone, irrespective of gender, race and tribe, among others.

“I implore us to continue to take action toward making the world more equitable, by ensuring that everyone, irrespective of gender has a fair and equal opportunity to be successful,” he said.


NIMASA, MWUN dialogue on fate of disengaged NNSL seafarers



By Seun Ibiyemi

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, and the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN have begun discussions on how to resolve the lingering issue of terminal benefits of Seafarers whose appointments were terminated due to the liquidation of the defunct Nigerian National Shipping Line, NNSL.

The Director General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir JamohOFR, and the Vice President of the Nigerian Labour Congress who is also the President General of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, jointly announced an agreement for physical verification of the affected seafarers/next of kin as the case may apply; the nature of appointment of all affected seafarers, and the exact amount due each beneficiary.

The NIMASA DG also assured the Union that their position will be communicated to the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, to ensure the Government takes all necessary actions to bring to a conclusion the issue of NNSL.

“The issue of industrial harmony in the maritime sector is of uttermost interest to our administration at NIMASA. We have been at this for a while. NIMASA had offered N100 million as settlement, which the Union declined.

“We have also discovered that some of those demanding settlement did not even have any employment letter. We will follow the lead from our supervising Ministry and ensure the physical verification exercise is brought to a logical conclusion. Our Honourable Minister will be duly updated by the Agency. I look forward to closing this issue in months to come,” the DG said.

On his part, the President General, Maritime Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MWUN) Comrade Adeyanju restated the commitment of the Union to peaceful resolution of disputes; to ensure the rights and privileges of workers are well protected, without disrupting productivity in the Maritime Sector. He commended the Jamoh led Management at NIMASA,urging others to follow suit.

“I would like to commend NIMASA under Dr Jamoh, for the unflinching commitment to industrial harmony. He is always a phone call away to resolve any issue. Yes, NIMASA offered N100 million to offset the terminal benefits.

“However, if others like Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Shippers Council and the rest also add funds, there will be enough to go round the expected beneficiaries. As we did for dockworkers when a flat rate of two hundred thousand was paid during port concession; that is what we want, putting into consideration the realities on ground now.”

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COP28: Airtel Africa calls for enabling policy environment, collaboration for climate action in Africa



The Group CEO of Airtel Africa plc, Segun Ogunsanya, has reiterated the importance of an enabling policy environment for sustainable development and climate action in partnership with Africa’s private sector at COP28.

Mr. Ogunsanya, a member of the United Nations Global Compact’s African Business Leaders Coalition (ABLC), addressed a distinguished audience at a COP28 side event co-hosted by Airtel Africa and the ABLC.

Guests included the President of Botswana, His Excellency Mokgweetsi Masisi; the Finance Minister of Nigeria, Mr. Wale Edun; the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Nigeria, Mr. Nyesom Wike; Ms. Sanda Ojiambo, the Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC); Chairman of BUA Group Nigeria limited, Abdul Samad Rabiu and several business leaders from across Africa.

The Group CEO of Airtel Africa urged African business leaders and governments to join forces to advance sustainable growth, development, and prosperity across the continent.

He said, “We stress the importance of an enabling policy environment for sustainable development and climate action in partnership with Africa’s private sector. Livelihood and living must go together.”

He also shared details of Airtel Africa’s environmental stewardship initiatives. These include ‘Project Green,’ launched in 2022, and focused on circular economy practices, especially in the responsible replacement of end-of-life equipment to minimise potential adverse environmental impacts.

Furthermore, in March 2023, Airtel Africa joined the multi-stakeholder partnership to eliminate open waste burning from Africa. This collaborative effort with local authorities, private companies, community groups, civil society and development partners targets a 60 percent reduction by 2030 and complete elimination of open waste burning by 2040.

Mr. Ogunsanya declared, “Airtel Africa’s corporate purpose, our driving force, is to ‘transform lives.’ This is not simply a slogan but a genuine passion that informs every aspect of our operations and every decision we take.”

He concluded, “It is our firm belief that African businesses, including Airtel Africa, stand ready to leverage global markets to accelerate the transition to a future-fit economy. We must deliver economic development, inclusive growth and GHG emissions reduction at the same time to enjoy the fruits of sustainability.”

The United Nations African Business Leaders Coalition (ABLC) is a collaborative initiative comprising African business CEOs committed to fostering sustainable growth, prosperity, and development throughout the African continent.

Members in the coalition, including Airtel Africa, committed to escalating the adoption of renewable energy, investing in climate-adaptation solutions, and ensuring an equitable transition. During COP28, the ABLC released a policy recommendation urging governments to establish conducive regulatory frameworks that facilitate collective climate action.

The recommendation further advocates for the setting of decarbonization targets and the acceleration of initiatives such as green minerals and climate adaptation programs and calls for increased access to climate financing to support these endeavors.

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Non-Interest Financing critical to funding amidst high debt service levels — Wale Edun



By Matthew Denis

The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr. Wale Edun has stated that the country needs Non-Interest Financing  as a critical sector towards funding as the country is faced with high levels of debt servicing.

The Minister’s disclosure at the SEC Nigeria-Islamic Financial Service Board (IFSB) International Forum held in Abuja on Wednesday.

He said, “Non-interest financing is a critical part of funding and that is because as we all know, we are faced with three crises right now which are the climate, and biodiversity but there is also a debt crisis in major countries and of course, the available solution is non-debt, equity and financing mechanisms that will eliminate the pains of paying interest on loans. Rather, it is better to have a participatory opportunity that equity and non-interest finance gives.

“And so what we are saying here is a critical piece of the solution to the crises of the world currently, including the fact that for the rapid and inclusive growth this administration desires, we need to have green projects so we don’t only need to have projects funded by equity.

“As we all know, our debt service levels and revenue to debt service ratio are so high and currently constrained.”

The Minister stressed that there is fiscal exhaustion in many parts of the world and there is also a need to finance green projects.

“So the only way to grow our economy is not just relying on foreign direct investments, and domestic investments but tap into the world of non-interest financing.”

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