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Osinbajo notes progress in infrastructure, inaugurates new council with public-private collaboration

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…List plans to further reduce deficit, attaining 70% stock

By Seun Ibiyemi

Collaboration between the Federal Government and the private sector will not only ensure effective coordination of the infrastructure development across the nation, and all sectors of the economy, it will also bridge the nation’s infrastructural gaps, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

This is a major reason why the Buhari administration has set up the National Council on Infrastructure, the Vice President added.

Prof. Osinbajo, who formally inaugurated the Council during a virtual meeting which he presided over today, stated that “for efficient and effective implementation of infrastructure projects, the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan recommended the establishment of the National Council on Infrastructure and its Technical Working Group (TWG).”

The Vice President further stated that the Buhari administration’s National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan was developed to provide “an integrated view of infrastructure development in Nigeria with clear linkages across key sectors and identifies enablers for successful implementation in line with the current economic realities.”

The National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan takes stock of existing infrastructure and specifically sets out the goal of raising Nigeria’s infrastructure stock to at least 70 percent by the year 2043, the VP said.

Speaking further, the Vice President noted that, “The success of the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan will depend, to a large extent, on the establishment of a strong implementation mechanism and framework that promotes performance and accountability.”

Specifically, Prof. Osinbajo added that the National Council on Infrastructure “is to provide policy direction on infrastructure matters and drive the creation and sustenance of the expected synergy and linkages between the public and the private sector to enhance the implementation of the Infrastructure Master Plan, while the Technical Working Group is to provide guidance to the Council and advise on all infrastructure related matters.”

Noting that the governance structure conforms with global best practice, Prof. Osinbajo further stated that “a well-coordinated and strategic approach will be required to harness private resources to increase the stock of Nigeria’s infrastructure to the desired level by the year 2043.”

Despite substantial infrastructure deficits across the country, Prof. Osinbajo emphasised the deliberate and massive investment in road, rail and power infrastructure for rapid economic development by the Buhari administration.

“A fundamental feature of our Administration’s plan for the rapid development of the economy is a deliberate and massive investment in Infrastructure,” the VP stated.

They include the second Niger bridge, the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Road (funded through the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund); the construction and upgrading of about 5,000 km of major road projects across the country through the Sukuk bond.

Continuing, the VP said, “Rail sector investments include the Lagos Kano standard gauge lines, the Warri-Itakpe rail. In the Energy sector, this Administration has green lit NLNG Train 7, invested in the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) pipeline and is on track to complete an incremental 4,000MW of generating assets (such as Zungeru Hydro and Kashimbilla Hydro) to complement systemic reforms and investments in the Distribution and Transmission segments of the electricity value chain.”

Prof. Osinbajo further said, “The Administration is investing more than $2 billion in Distribution and Transmission through the Siemens Presidential Power Initiative, the Transmission, Rehabilitation and Expansion Plan, the CBN financed Transmission-Distribution Interface Programme and the recently approved $500 million World Bank DISREP program for the Distribution segment.”

Similarly, the VP noted that the Federal Government launched the N15 trillion Infrastructure Corporation (InfraCorp Nigeria) last year and the President also signed Executive Order 7, which has informed right policy framework and created some opportunities for Public Private Partnership (PPP) in infrastructure development.

Noting further the importance of private sector participation, the VP said, “the Reviewed National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan (2020-2043) and the National Development Plan 2021-2025 also estimated the current nation’s infrastructure stock to be between 30-35 percent of the GDP in 2020 against 20 per cent of the GDP recorded at the inception of this administration in 2015.  This is still a far cry from the estimated target of 70 per cent envisaged in 2043.”

To buttress this point, Prof. Osinbajo noted that the USD$2.3 Trillion estimated resource requirement for the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan implementation was too large to be provided from public resources alone.

Further emphasizing collaboration between government and the private sector in closing these infrastructure deficits, the VP noted that “a well-coordinated and strategic approach will be required to harness private resources to increase the stock of Nigeria’s infrastructure to the desired level by the year 2043.”

The private sector, he added, “is expected to play an increasingly important role either directly or in collaboration with the government through Public Private Partnership (PPP) with the Government providing a supportive environment with stable and transparent policies, rules and regulations.”

In his remarks, the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, thanked the Vice President for his leadership and selfless service to the nation.

Private sector members of the new Council, include the President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Engr. Mansur Ahmed; and a representative of the Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE), Engr. Tasiu Wudil, both of whom were in attendance, also welcomed the inauguration of the Council, to which they are also members.

The Vice President is Chair of the National Council on Infrastructure, and members include representative of the State Governors; Federal Ministers, heads of government agencies and members of the private sector.

They include the Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Ministers of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr. (Mrs.) Zainab Ahmed; Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; Works, Babatunde Fashola, SAN; Power, Engr Abubakar Aliyu; Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Samb; Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami; Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu; Aviation, Hadi Sirika; Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba; and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele.

Others include the President of MAN, Engr. Mansur Ahmed; National President of Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), John Udeagbala; the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, FCCPC, Mr. Babatunde Irukera; Managing Director/CEO, Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), Uche Orji; among others.

The Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, through its Infrastructure Delivery Coordinating Unit, has been strengthened further to function as the Secretariat for the Council, Prof. Osinbajo said.

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Nigerians to pay more as Multichoice Nigeria hikes Dstv, Gotv subscription fees by 25%

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Multichoice Nigeria, a prominent Pay-TV operator, has once again announced a price increase for its DStv and GOtv packages, this time by at least 25 percent.

This marks the third increment since last year, following the initial adjustment implemented on May 1, 2023.

Multichoice stated that the latest increase will take effect from Wednesday, May 1, 2024. While last year’s increment ranged between 19 percent to 20 percent depending on the bouquet, the company is now announcing a 25 percent to 26 percent increase across its packages.

The new subscription fees were communicated to customers via an email titled “Price Adjustment on DStv and GOtv Packages” on Wednesday, April 24, 2024. Below is an excerpt from the email message that subscribers received.

On Wednesday, 1 May 2024 we will adjust our prices across all our packages on OStv and GOtv. We understand the impact this change may have on you – our valued customer, but the rise in the cost of business operations has led us to make this difficult decision.

 It remains our mission to provide the best entertainment and viewing experience to you and are committed to continue to deliver high-quality content and unparalleled service.

“So, from Wednesday, 1 May 2024, the price adjustment will take effect as follows.”

According to the notice sent to its subscribers, customers on the DStv Premium package will see their monthly subscription fee increase to N37,000 starting from May 1, marking a 25.4 percent rise from the current N29,500.

 Similarly, the price of the Compact+ bouquet has been raised to N25,000 from N19,800 per month, reflecting a 26.2 percent increment.

DStv has also announced that subscribers on its Compact bouquet will now pay N15,700, up from the current N12,500, representing a 25.6 percent increase. Meanwhile, those on the Confam package will face a 25.6% hike as their monthly subscription rises to N9,300 from N7,400.

 Under the new pricing structure, viewers on the DStv Yanga bouquet will be charged N5,100 for their monthly subscription, marking a 21.43 percent increase over the current N4,200 fee.

Multichoice has announced price increases across its GOtv packages. Customers on the Supa Plus package will now pay N15,700, marking a 25.6 percent rise from the current price of N12,500. Similarly, the Supa bouquet will see its price increase to N9,600 from the current N7,600.

For the GOtv Max subscription, the new price is N7,200, up from N5,700, while the Jolli package will now cost N4,850, compared to the current price of N3,950. Multichoice has also adjusted the price of its lowest GOtv package, Jinja, which will now be N3,300 monthly instead of the current N2,700.

Although Multichoice Nigeria is yet to issue any statement regarding the factors behind the recent price review, Nigeria’s inflation increased to 33.2 percent.

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BPE seeks collaboration with NLC on privatisation process

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By Matthew Dennis

The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), under the leadership of the Acting Director General, Mr. Ignatius Ayewoh, recently paid a courtesy visit to the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Joe Ajero, to seek collaboration with the Labour Union in the ongoing reform and privatisation program of the Federal Government.

This is contained in a statement signed by Head, Public Communications, Amina Tukur Othman, and made available to NewsDirect on Tuesday.

The statement stated that Mr. Ayewoh emphasised the importance of collaboration with the labour unions to ensure the welfare of workers during and after government agency reforms. He expressed gratitude to Mr. Ajero and the Union for their past support and urged them to continue partnering with the Bureau, particularly as members of the Technical Committee (TC) of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP).

Highlighting BPE’s previous successes in various sectors of the Nigerian economy such as telecoms, banking, Eleme petrochemical, and port terminal concessions, Mr. Ayewoh stated that the Bureau’s current strategy is focused on implementing Public Private Partnership (PPP) and concessioning in its transactions.

Furthermore, Mr. Ayewoh informed Mr. Ajero that BPE is working closely with the Accountant General’s Office to ensure the payment of all outstanding severance liabilities arising from the 2013 privatisation of the power sector, in accordance with agreements made with labour unions.

In response, Mr. Ajero thanked the Ag. DG for the visit and pledged the collaboration of the NLC with the Bureau in its reform activities.

It is worth noting that, in 2023 the BPE, along with other sister agencies, conducted a verification exercise for the payment of the agreed 16-month severance benefits to former staff of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), including certified Next-of-Kin (NOK) of deceased ex-staff. The exercise took place in twelve designated centres over four phases across the country.

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Qualcomm announces shortlisted startups for Make in Africa 2024

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Qualcomm has announced the shortlisted startups for Qualcomm Make in Africa 2024, as well as the winner of the 2023 Wireless Reach Social Impact Fund.

The Qualcomm Africa Innovation Platform, now in its second year, aims to work with and support the development of Africa’s emerging technology ecosystem by providing mentorship, education, and training programs with a focus on 5G, Edge-AI/ML, Compute, and IoT. This year, Qualcomm received an overwhelming response, with approximately 250 applications from 30 countries./

As the first initiative of its kind in Africa, Qualcomm Make in Africa is an equity-free mentorship program that identifies promising early-stage startups keen on applying advanced connectivity and processing technologies such as 5G, Edge-AI/ML, Compute, and IoT to innovative end-to-end systems solutions, including hardware.

These startups have demonstrated exceptional potential in applying advanced connectivity and processing technologies to innovative end-to-end systems solutions. The selected startups will receive free mentorship, business coaching, access to engineering consultation for product development, and guidance on protecting intellectual property.

The 2024 cohort includes the following startups (listed in alphabetical order):  Aurora Health from Kenya provides AI-based cardiovascular health care tools, CropScan from Kenya uses solar-powered smart farming IoT devices, Cure Bionics from Tunisia makes smart 3D printed prosthetic arms, DevisionX from Egypt provides AI-based low-code computer vision tools, Kalio from Cameroon is building AI tools for Agricultural IoT, Kitovu from Nigeria provides tools and software for smart agricultural warehouse management, NextAI Studios from Kenya builds AI-based emotion detection into toys for children’s mental healthcare, RIM Nextgen from Kenya, uses smart tools for monitoring propane consumption, Sparcx from South Africa uses AI for enhancing radar signal processing and Vizmerald from Tunisia, is working on AI-based textile industry inspection.

The company also announced the awardee of the 2023 Wireless Reach Social Impact Fund. This fund, provided by Qualcomm through its Qualcomm® Wireless Reach™ Initiative, aims to support startups in scaling their societal and market impact. Ecorich Solutions Limited, a female-founded organization based in Nairobi, Kenya,/ will be awarded funding to help scale the impact of their smart organic food composter.

Wireless Reach funding will support Ecorich to address the dual challenge of organic waste management and the need for sustainable agricultural practices, with the goal of reducing environmental pollution, improving crop yields for farmers, and mitigating waste-related health risks for communities. The other nine startups from the 2023 cohort will also receive valuable stipends to continue fueling their growth. These startups have showcased innovative uses of wireless technology to address pressing needs in their communities./

In addition, Qualcomm is excited to highlight the progress of the L2Pro Africa IP e-learning Platform, a free online training program designed to empower startups, SMEs, and researchers in Africa to protect, secure, and maximise their innovations. This program has been created in collaboration with Adams and Adams, Africa’s leading intellectual property (IP) law firm. The education content has been updated with individual filing procedures for patents, industrial designs, and trademarks in the countries of Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, Rwanda and within the two African patent organisations, ARIPO and OAPI. These step-by-step descriptions of per-country filing requirements empower inventors to interact effectively with IP professionals such as an IP attorney and their respective IP offices./

“I am thrilled with the overwhelming response to the Africa Innovation Platform this year,” said President, QTL & Global Affairs, Qualcomm Incorporated,  Alex Rogers.

“The quality and diversity of the applications received reflect the immense talent and potential within Africa’s technology ecosystem. We are excited to work with the shortlisted startups and provide them with the necessary resources and support to drive innovation and create a positive impact in their communities.

“We applaud Qualcomm for launching the second year of its Innovate in Africa Platform, which not only equips the upcoming generation of African entrepreneurs with expertise in pivotal areas like AI/ML, healthcare, agri-tech, smart cities, and communications but also empowers them to safeguard their intellectual property through the complimentary L2ProAfrica program,” said Secretary General, African Telecommunications Union (ATU), John Omo./

Mr. Omo also emphasised that the ATU remains steadfast in its commitment to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship across the continent.

“Our youth innovation program, among other initiatives, plays a crucial role in cultivating the talents and aspirations of Africa’s young visionaries,” he affirmed. “We are ready to collaborate with additional partners to realize this objective.”

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