How Nigeria’s economic challenges affect West Africa – ECOWAS

The depreciation of the naira and other economic challenges affecting member states have slowed down ECOWAS economic integration and the adoption of a single currency, the News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports.

This was one of the main issues discussed at the technical meeting of the ECOWAS Macroeconomic Policy Committee on Multilateral Surveillance in Abuja on Thursday.

The out-going Chairperson of the committee, Ommy Sar Ndaiye, said that it was pertinent for member states to develop strategies to address the prevailing economic challenges.

Ms. Ndaiye, however, noted that the commission had made progress in its macroeconomic policies.

“The depreciation in value of the naira and other economic factors in Nigeria are affecting ECOWAS.

“We all know that whatever happens in Nigeria weighs heavily on our economies.

“If there are challenges there, it would reflect on the region,” she said.

She urged the committee to make recommendations that would strengthen sub-regional economic integration and development that could also be implemented through the economic policies of member states.

The ECOWAS Commissioner, Macroeconomic Policy and Economic Research, Mamadou Traore, said that the 2015 report on the macroeconomic convergence for the region showed a slowdown the growth of the economy compared to 2014.

Mr. Traore said the lack of raw materials, poor state of infrastructural development in member states and the depreciation in value of the naira contributed to the slow growth rate.

He said that that despite measures put in place by the commission, the ECOWAS economy “is still vulnerable to external shocks”.

He called on member countries to do in-depth analyses to determine the growth factors that made the sub-region vulnerable.

“Member states should get an update of implementation of the ECOWAS single currency programme.

“The deadline for the adoption of single currency is fast approaching; this committee should set an agenda to look into the progress made so far and identify challenges that may hinder its smooth operation.”

He urged member states to regularly update their databases on measures that drive economic growth in their countries.

The commissioner stated that the two-day meeting would review the 2015 report, evaluate and make recommendations that would drive the economies of member states.

He also said that the meeting would discuss the status of the implementation of the ECOWAS Common external Tariff.

NAN reports that ECOWAS has set 2020 to achieve the adoption of a single currency for the region.

Nigeria Accounts For Over 70% Of 500 Million Illicit Weapons In West Africa- UN

The United Nations has raised alarm over the illicit proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) in Nigeria with over 350 million or 70 per cent of an estimated 500 million of such weapons said to be circulating in West Africa be in the country.

The director of United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC), Olatokunbo Ige, gave this statistics at the ongoing National Consultation on Physical Security and Stockpile Management (PSSM) in Abuja, organised by the Agency and Presidential Committee on Smalls Arms and Light Weapons (PRESCOM).

Ms. Ige said the country is awash with illicit weapons, which have found its way into unauthorised hands on non-state actors that are threatening the existence of the country, as well lives and properties of the people.

“The illicit proliferation of SALW has had a dramatic impact on peace and security in Africa, threatening not only the existence of the state, but also the livelihoods of millions of people across the continent,” she said.

“Nigeria is one of the countries that is experiencing some of the most devastating effects of the proliferation of SALW as a result of spillover effect of the recent crises in Libya, and Mali as well as unresolved internal conflicts in different parts of the country especially in the North East, Niger Delta and Southern regions.”

“While reliable data on the numbers of these weapons circulating freely in the country is unavailable, analysts have in recent times estimated that of the about 500 million weapons that may be circulating in West Africa in 2010, some 70 per cent of these could be found in Nigeria,” she added.

She warned that “as alarming as these figures seem, it is very clear that if left unchecked, this scourge will not only jeopardise the developmental gains achieved over the last 50 years, but will also impede the nation’s capacity to achieve its developmental targets and therefore, negatively impact on the future generations”.

According to Ms. Ige, this has highlighted, more than ever before the critical need not only to control the flow of arms in the non-state sector, but also the state owned actors through the effective management of the armoury and weapon stockpiles.

Credit: PremiumTimes

Buhari Pledges Efficient Gas Supply In West Africa

Nigeria has pledged to ‘stabilise the environment’ to enable it to pump gas across the West African sub-region in furtherance of the objectives of the West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP) project.

President Muhammadu Buhari made the pledge in Abuja on Tuesday while addressing a joint news conference with the visiting President of Benin Republic, Mr Patrice Talon.

Buhari said that owing to the availability of the technology required, Nigeria was considering using modern technology to convert gas to liquid form for easy export to countries of the sub-region.“The economic part of it (our discussion) was mainly on energy – to make sure that the West African Gas Pipeline project is made much more efficient.

“This government is making all the effort it can to stabilise the situation because the resources are there.

“The world knows that Nigeria has plenty of gas.

“What we need to do is to stabilise the environment so that this gas can be regularly pumped to the sub-region through the infrastructure already in place.

“Also the Nigerian LNG is not doing too badly.

“The gas can be turned into liquid form; the technology is now available; it can be transferred to the Benin Republic to power their power stations.”

Buhari thanked the Benin Republic for its continued support to Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram in the North East.

In his remarks, President Talon disclosed that his discussion with Buhari during their closed-door meeting was on security and economy.

According to him, Benin Republic is looking forward to reactivating the existing bilateral relationship between Benin and Nigeria especially in the areas of trade relations, economy, energy development and education.
Talon raised alarm over increased activities of smugglers alone illegal border areas between Benin republic and Nigeria.

The Beninoise president, who spoke through an interpreter, stressed the need to deal with smuggling.

He said doing so would help enhance revenue generation in both countries.

“On this issue of trade relations between the two countries, I would like to go a little bit deeper and to mention that there is what we call “illegal trade’’ between the two countries, which is creating difficulties for the two countries.

“We looked at the possibility of re-energising the trade between the two countries so that illegal trade is discouraged,” he said.

Talon said the downturn in Nigeria’s economy was adversely affecting his country in particular, and other African countries.

While describing Nigeria as the engine room of West Africa, Talon urged Nigeria to take advantage the abundant potentialities in its non-oil sectors to increase its revenue profile.

He said that it would be timely if Nigeria could do that bearing in mind the fact that its revenue profile had been reduced by falling oil prices in the international market.

Talon also stressed the need for Nigeria to assist his country in stabilising electricity supply, saying that Nigeria remained a big brother in Africa.

He invited Buhari to visit the Benin Republic to consolidate the gains of the cooperation between the two countries.

Credit: Guardian

ABU Makes History, Becomes First To Host American Football Match In West Africa

The prestigious Ahmadu Bello University (ABU)  has yet again imprinted its name in the history books by being the first to host an American Football match, not only in Nigeria, but the entire West African sub-region.
The historical match which pitched the Lagos Marines against hosts ABU saw the more experienced home team devoured the visitors 26-14 in the highly entertaining encounter last Saturday.

Being the first time, organisers were not anticipating the unprecedented large turn-out of spectators that thronged the ABU Sports Complex to get a glimpse of the historic match.

Fans of American Football, who were attracted from all over Nigeria, were excited all through the encounter, presenting Nigerians with another pulsating option to the regular football.

Speaking in an interview after the encounter, President of the Nigerian Institute of American Football, Professor Adamu Ahmed, said that he was impressed by the impact the first outing had on the spectators.
“We are really thrilled and excited about the huge followership this first game is getting,” he said.
He explained that the thought of the institute was first muted in 2012, during the 50th Anniversary Celebration of ABU, a decision all stakeholders are today very proud of.

Credit: DailyTimes

Nigeria Has Capacity To Produce Enough Rice For West Africa – CARI

Mr Abraham Odoom, Policy Advisor, Competitive African Rice Initiative (CARI) says Nigeria has the capacity to produce enough rice for consumption in the West African Sub-region.


Odoom made the remark at the formal inauguration of the Nigerian Rice Policy Advocacy Platform in Kano, Kano State on Thursday.


He said based on empirical evidence on ground, two states in Nigeria could produce the required rice to feed the West African Sub-region without necessarily importing the commodity.


“The importation of rice has been taking a heavy toll on the nation’s foreign exchange earnings.

“Nigeria is blessed with abundant arable land and water for massive production of rice,” he said.


Odoom said with the appalling slump in oil prices, it would be absolutely necessary for the country to promote the importation of rice.


“The issue of unemployment can be effectively tackled if the much needed leverage is secured by indigenous farmers willing to prove their worth on rice production,” Odoom said.


He said CARI was ready to conduct its activity on rice production and rice value chain, based on research as a way of creating adequate awareness among farmers.


Odoom said that with the required indices taken into cognizance, the future of rice production in the state is bright.


Earlier in his remarks, the state Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr Nasir Gawuna, said the state government would continue to give special attention to agriculture to boost food production.


Gawuna was represented at the occasion by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Hajiya Binta Rabiu.


The commissioner said the state government had recently given Rice Farmers Association in the state N1billion soft loan to enhance rice production.




WHO Declares West Africa Ebola-Free

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday in Geneva, Switzerland declared West Africa Ebola-free, affirming that the transmission of the Ebola virus has been stopped in West Africa.



WHO experts, however, warned that there was still a risk that the haemorrhagic fever could flare up again.



They said this is because the Ebola virus can persist for up to 12 months in the semen of male survivors.


The announcement came 42 days after the last case was confirmed in Liberia, the final of three West African countries with active transmission of the virus.



WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan, said Sierra Leone was declared free of Ebola transmission on Nov. 7 and Guinea on Dec. 29.



“More than 11,300 people have died since the outbreak in December 2013 in West Africa, while 28,500 have been infected.


Detecting and breaking every chain of transmission has been a monumental achievement,” she said.



Ebola, which was discovered in 1976 and transmitted through contact with blood and other bodily fluids, causes massive haemorrhaging.



It has a fatality rate of up to 90 per cent if left untreated.



Liberian Deputy Health Minister, Tolbert Nyenswah, said the country would be vigilant, as related to maintaining surveillance and thereby keeping the nation safe from Ebola.



Luis Encinas, Medical Head of Projects in Niger, for the Doctors Without Borders (MSF), said they would remain in West Africa, where they started Ebola response services in March 2014.



He said this has become necessary because the health system has to be completely reconstructed in the most-affected countries.



“MSF will be ready if there is another outbreak, but much depends on resources.



If there is no money and people are not trained, there will be a problem,’’ the official said.




WHO Appoints New Africa Chief after Ebola Criticism

The Africa arm of the World Health Organization — which has been criticised for being slow to react to Ebola — appointed a new director Wednesday.

Dr Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti immediately vowed to improve the response of countries worst hit by the epidemic.

Delegates at the UN health body’s regional committee for Africa in Benin voted for the Botswana-born WHO veteran to take over from Luis Gomes Sambo, who has held the post since 2005.

The WHO has said that it will look into complaints about its response to the outbreak and that it was overly bureaucratic and too politicised to react quickly to global health crises.

Moeti maintained the organisation was undergoing changes and her first task was to ensure that the first wave of reforms are implemented in Africa.

“I am going to work to improve the capacity deployed on the ground currently in the three countries gravely affected by the Ebola virus so that we can manage to control this epidemic,” she said.

“I am going to work with partners to improve the support for health systems in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea,” Moeti, who steps up from deputy regional director, told AFP after the vote.

The United Nations has taken charge of the overall emergency response to Ebola in west Africa, which has claimed nearly 5,000 lives and infected nearly 14,000 this year, through its own dedicated mission.

Credit: Yahoo News

Ebola: US Restricts Airport Arrivals from West Africa

New US rules requiring air passengers from the three West African countries worst hit by Ebola to travel via one of five airports are coming into effect.

Travellers from Sierra Leone, Liberia or Guinea must now arrive at O’Hare in Chicago, JFK, Newark, Washington’s Dulles or Atlanta, where they will undergo enhanced screening.

Travellers from these countries will have their temperatures checked as part of screening programmes, despite experts warning such moves are unlikely to have an impact.

The new security measures come as public concern grows in the US, where three people have been infected and one person has died from the virus.

Ebola: WHO Lists 15 Priority Countries

WHO says it is focusing on 15 African countries to stop spread of disease, as EU reviews its screening policies.

The WHO has said it is focusing its attention on 15 countries to prevent the spread of Ebola, as the EU announced a review of its entry policies and the disease was reported in the last untouched area of Sierra Leone.

Dr Isabelle Nuttall, the WHO’s global director, said on Thursday that cases were doubling every four weeks and that health officials were trying to prevent the disease spreading from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the worst-hit nations, to neighbouring countries and those with a strong travel and trade relationship.

Nuttall said: “The objective is to stop the transmission from occurring in these countries. They may not have a case but after one case we don’t want more. These countries need to be better prepared.

“This week we will cross 9,000 cases of Ebola and 4,500 deaths. The outbreak continues to hit health workers hard. So far 427 health care workers have been infected with Ebola and 236 have died.”

The statement came as Sierra Leone reported two infections in the northern area of Koinadugu, the last untouched district in the country, despite strict safety precautions and limited contact with the rest of the country.

The EU also announced that it was reviewing its screening controls for airline passengers leaving west Africa.

Doctors Without Borders Loses 9 Medics to Ebola

International aid organization Doctors Without Borders said that 16 of its staff members have been infected with Ebola and nine of them have died.

Speaking at a press conference in Johannesburg Tuesday, the head of Doctors Without Borders in South Africa Sharon Ekambaram said medical workers have received inadequate assistance from the international community.

“Where is WHO Africa? Where is the African Union?” said Ekambaram who worked in Sierra Leone from August to September. “We’ve all heard their promises in the media but have seen very little on the ground.”

Four of the organization’s medical workers who had just returned from Sierra Leone and Liberia said they were frustrated, “chasing after the curve of the outbreak,” according to Jens Pederson, the aid organization’s humanitarian affairs adviser.

“To manage Ebola is not rocket science. It’s very basic infection control and very basic protection of staff,” said Pederson who said clean water, chlorine and soap were enough to disinfect an affected area.

While donations often focus on medical supplies, Pedersen said psychological and social support were just as important for patients who were isolated from their communities and who had lost many of their own relatives. Demonstrating the hazmat suits worn during treatment, doctors said it is difficult to build a relationship with patients with only their eyes visible between a heavy duty mask and hood, blurred behind thick goggles.

The number of those who have died from Ebola is probably an underestimate because many families hide their sick and dying loved ones, said Juli Switala, a Doctors Without Borders staff member. More than 4,000 people have died from Ebola so far, according to the World Health Organization.

Scores Possibly Exposed to U.S. Ebola Patient; Four Isolated

More than 80 people had direct or indirect contact with the first person to be diagnosed with the deadly Ebola virus in the United States, health officials said Thursday, as 4 members of the patient’s family were quarantined as a precaution.

Dallas County officials said 12 to 18 people had direct contact with the Texas patient, and they in turn had contact with scores of others. All were being monitored and none had shown any symptoms.

A top health official urged U.S. hospitals to heed lessons from Dallas, where a hospital initially sent the ailing patient home, despite information that he had recently visited West Africa, potentially exposing more people to the virus.

Texas health officials told four “close” relatives of the patient not to entertain visitors and said they could be arrested if they leave their homes without permission through Oct. 19. The four did not exhibit symptoms, they said.

“We have tried and true protocols to protect the public and stop the spread of this disease,” said Dr. David Lakey, the Texas health commissioner. “This order gives us the ability to monitor the situation in the most meticulous way.”

“The order is in place until the incubation period has passed and the family is no longer at risk of having the disease,” Lakey said.

 Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said, “Unfortunately, that did not happen in this case… We just need to put that behind us and look ahead and make sure that in the future that doesn’t happen again.”

“This will certainly serve for the rest of a country as a cogent lesson learned,” he added in an interview on MSNBC.

Australia won’t send Ebola doctors to West Africa

Australia on Monday ruled out sending doctors to West Africa to help fight the Ebola outbreak because of logistical problems in repatriating any Australian who became infected with the deadly virus.

Doctors Without Borders, as well as the Australian opposition party have called on the government to send a medical team to assist in a worsening doctor shortage in West Africa, but Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the Australian Health and Defense Departments had both advised that Australia could not safely evacuate Australian health workers back home.

“The Australian government is not about to risk the health of Australian workers in the absence of credible evacuation plans that could bring our people back to Australia,” Bishop told reporters.

Australia announced two weeks ago that it would immediately provide an additional 7 million Australian dollars ($6.4 million) to help the international response to the outbreak. The country had previously committed AU$1 million to the response.

Ebola Drug Trials to Begin in West Africa by UK Scientists

Scientists in London on Tuesday unveiled plans to push ahead with clinical trials of prototype Ebola treatments in West Africa for the first time, possibly from November.

Wellcome Trust, a British biomedical research charity, which is funding the effort with a £3.2 million grant ($5.2 million, 4.1 million euros) said, “Ebola treatments are to be tested in West Africa for the first time.”

The charity said there had been some experiments with treatments already “but none has yet been tested for efficacy and safety in humans with Ebola” and scientists underlined that months of cautious work lay ahead.

David Heymann, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine suggested that plasmapheresis, where serum is taken from survivors and their antibodies given to patients, could be a valuable tool in the battle to contain the epidemic.

“This would be a sustainable method of providing support to patients if it were effective, but unfortunately it has never been tested in a clinical setting, even though it has been used ad hoc many times,” he said at a press conference at Wellcome’s headquarters in London.

Heymann said that they hoped to collect enough serum for trials to begin once suitable sites had been identified.

Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer for England, said that William Pooley, the British nurse who recovered after contracting the disease in Sierra Leone, had volunteered his blood plasma.

Pooley was treated with ZMapp, and clinical tests of this experimental drug, along with anti-viral drugs, will also begin once possible sites for the trials in the affected countries have been established.

Health workers must also set up infrastructure and recruit personnel, pending WHO recommendations on which products to test first.

The first tests could take place “by November”, according to Peter Horby, Senior Clinical Research Fellow at Oxford University.

Wellcome added that the initiative, whose partners include the World Health Organisation (WHO), would aim to “fast-track trials of the most promising drugs”, but warned that it would take several months before any treatments bore fruit, and that they would only succeed as part of a wide raft of initiatives to combat the disease.

Several pharmaceutical companies are taking part in the tests, and will provide key data on safety and production abilities.

$50 Million Pledge Against Ebola by Gates Foundation


The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced Wednesday, that it will donate $50 million to help fight the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The foundation says the money will be used to enable international aid organizations and national governments “to purchase badly needed supplies and scale up emergency operations in affected countries.”

It will also “work with public and private sector partners to accelerate the development of therapies, vaccines, and diagnostics that could be effective in treating patients and preventing further transmission of the disease.”

WHO Releases First Roadmap Situation Report on Ebola


WHO releases the first series of regular updates on the Ebola Response Roadmap. The update contains a
review of the epidemiological situation and response monitoring. The data contained in the report is based on the best information currently available.

Countries recorded with widespread and intense transmission include (Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone); while those with an initial case or cases, or with localized transmission (Nigeria); and those sharing land borders with areas of active
transmission (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Senegal) and those with
international transportation hubs.

In brief summary, the report provides this detailed information:

“The total number of probable, confirmed and suspect cases in the current outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in West Africa is 3052, with 1546 deaths. Countries affected are Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. The figure below shows the number of cases by country that have been
reported between the beginning of January 2014 (epidemiological week 1) and 25 August 2014
(epidemiological week 34).”

Ebola map


Click below and view the roadmap situation report on Ebola

WHO: Ebola Response Roadmap Situation Report 1

New Ebola Strain Penetrates Congo Democratic Republic

DRC ebola

Health Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Felix Numbi confirms that the Ebola outbreak in the Equateur province has a seemingly different strain of Ebola to that of West Africa. Revealing that the disease in the Equateur province has killed 13 already including health workers, was found in an isolated area.


This is reportedly the first case of Ebola outside West Africa,  and Dr. Numbi said that a quarantine area has is being set up to manage the outbreak.

Congo has been hit by Ebola outbreaks seven times before, but the two deaths are the first ones in recent times.

Ebola news

A total of 1,427 people have died from the virus so far, while an estimation of 2,615 people have been infected with Ebola since March in West Africa.



By Lawson Hayford

Contrary to the declaration by President Goodluck Jonathan that he would run for only one term, his kinsmen have insisted that he has no option than to contest the 2015 presidential election. Prominent Ijaw leaders and south-south elders last week met in Lagos for two days during which they deliberated on the 2015 presidential election and the way forward for the region.

The meeting, which was held at the Civic Centre, Lagos, reportedly had in attendance the National Security Adviser, General Andrew Azazi, Ijaw leader Chief Edwin Clark, Niger Delta Volunteer Force leader Mujahid Asari Dokubo, special adviser to the president on Niger Delta, Mr. Kingsley Kuku, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Water Resources Dr. Godknows Igali, pioneer president of Ijaw Youth Council Dr. Felix Tuodolo, oil magnate Mr. Dumo Briggs, NIMASA director-general Mr. Ziakede Akpobolokemi and ex-militant Ateke Tom, among others.

The meeting, which had as its theme, “Strategic Programme for the Development and Progress of the Niger Delta”, was meant to draw attention to the development of the region, but the participants used the platform to examine the political implications of Jonathan’s declaration and the future of the region.

The details of the meeting were, however, not made public. But a source at the meeting said the leaders of the region were not leaving any stone unturned in ensuring that the region retains the presidency beyond 2015. The source said the South-South leaders expressed worry over the statement by the president that he would not go for a second term, a development that could cause a serious political setback for the region.

It was learnt that, after many of the leaders had spoken on the dangers of conceding the top political post to another region on a platter, it was resolved that Jonathan should be persuaded to run for a second term.

According to a competent source who attended the meeting, there is a compelling need for Jonathan to change his stance, so as not to mortgage the opportunity of the South-South to enjoy eight years presidency.

The source said, “Jonathan is the only person in the South-South who could run and win the presidential election in 2015.”

The meeting generally agreed that there was the need for all Niger Deltans to rally round the president to ensure his re-election in 2015.

A former president of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), the umbrella body of all Ijaws in Nigeria and in the Diaspora, Joshua Fumudoh, who attended the two-day conference, told LEADERSHIP in Port Harcourt that the meeting considered that the statement by the president at the time was meant to douse tension in the land.

Fumudoh argued that such a highly sensitive political decision could not have been taken by the president alone without recourse to the elders and leaders of the Ijaw nation and the south-south in particular as well as certain individuals and groups across the country.

The ex-INC leader and member of the PDP said the president’s “desire to serve only one tenure of four years” did not take into consideration what would happen to the remaining four years that would have been Jonathan’s second tenure.

Recalling Nigeria’s past presidents and their tenures in office, backed by the necessary constitutional provisions, Fumudoh said it would be against the principle of fairness, equity and natural justice not to allow the South-South to complete their eight years tenure.