Hitsats was opened in 2013 to accommodate Eritrean refugees. In 2018, it housed over 15,000 refugees, nearly half under the age of 18. It was closed in February 2021.
Ethiopia has a reputation for hosting long-term refugees. It’s the second largest host country in Africa with a hosting history that dates back to the 1950s.
During the 2016 Refugee Summit it made nine pledges to increase opportunities for refugees to engage in legal work, education and land ownership. Most components of these pledges have yet to be fully enacted and most refugees remain confined to camps.
One of the pledges promised to build more secondary schools and expand access to a refugee university scholarship programme.
But even before the Tigray war, as many as two-thirds of Eritrean refugees, the majority of whom are young men and unaccompanied minors, chose not to take advantage of educational opportunities designed to keep them in Ethiopia. Instead many of them chose the dangerous journey to Europe, where they risk falling prey to human traffickers, abuse, detention and death.
We conducted research with Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia to find out why they choose to move on rather than take advantage of the opportunity to get an education.
We found that education and local integration programs focus on providing refugees with a safe place. However, refugees also care about time – specifically the future. To feel safe, they need to be able to work toward a desirable future. In other words, they want a life that is ordered teleologically.
Weighing the risks
Our research took place between 2016 and 2019. We did our fieldwork in three Eritrean refugee camps in the Tigray region and in Addis Ababa, with urban refugees and policymakers. We also used social media to connect with participants.
We discovered that although refugees are aware of the risks of leaving, there are risks to staying, including the despair of being stuck in ‘camp time’ with no prospects for a future. For some refugees, going to school can alleviate these feelings of hopelessness. One of refugee we spoke to said this:
I used to spend my time idle, walking around the camp, thinking about nothing. It stressed me. It’s better to spend your time meaningfully in school rather than sitting at home or in a shelter.
But this is not always the case. We found that refugee schools struggle to enrol and retain students. They have low enrolment rates and many students drop out.
The question is this: why do so many refugees leave despite grave risks and the presence of programmes designed to stop them from migrating?
Long before the war in Tigray and the COVID-19 pandemic, refugees weighed the risks of migrating versus remaining. We found that for Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia, the promise of a good education is not enough to make them stay because there are limited prospects for advancement beyond academic qualifications.
Educational opportunities are meaningful to refugees, but also a cause of suffering, particularly for those who have done well. Educated refugees expect to make progress and attain social status. This is difficult in a camp setting.
In the end, the institutions designed to help them move towards their desired future fail them and make them feel responsible for that failure. Although they are restrained by legal and structural barriers many internalise the blame.
Refugees exist in a painful, unending present. Time in the camps doesn’t move forward. Educated refugees are stuck, without real opportunities to create a path for a better future.
Why refugees choose Europe
Global migration policy focuses on local integration as the most viable solution for an estimated 26 million refugees around the world; half under the age of 18.
Protracted conflicts and widening inequality prevent the return of refugees to their home countries, and less than 1% of refugees are resettled each year.
Education potentially anchors refugees in host countries, promising opportunities, advancement and the chance to fulfil aspirations. But our research suggests that even before the war in Tigray put refugees at more risk, they distrusted Ethiopia’s commitment to its pledges.
We spoke to Berihu, an Eritrean refugee who graduated from an Ethiopian university and became a teacher in the Hitstats camp, who said:
I was happy to get this opportunity to have a bachelor’s degree. But nobody is happy after graduation because they return to the camp and live like the others. We have to use our knowledge to give something back to society.
Graduates like Berihu feel like they can’t use their education to advance their careers in the camps. They also worry about their wellbeing, the possibility of political violence, or cuts to rations. While educational pathways have opened up, pathways to legal work have only recently become available. Refugee graduates are confined to “incentive pay” positions in the camps working for small stipends.
Habtom, another refugee in Hitsats, was offered a university scholarship. But he worried about falling into “empty time” in the camp, saying:
Simply sleeping and eating is boring to me. We are like animals.
A few months later he began the dangerous journey north.
Dead end pledges
Despite Ethiopia’s 2019 refugee proclamation, the promised future for refugees is distant. They are still primarily housed in camps. The details of how they can work or own businesses are still being worked out, leaving them vulnerable to low wages and exploitation.
And in 2020, Ethiopia announced the end of prima facie status for Eritrean refugees, meaning there are more bureaucratic hurdles for them to clear. Additionally, there are widespread food shortages in the region. The risks of staying have gotten even greater, which will lead more Eritrean refugees to take the perilous trip to Europe.
Nigerian troops have rescued 10 expatriates and four Nigerians in Rivers state.
The victims, including six Chinese, three Indonesians, one Gabonese and four Nigerians, were abducted around the coast of Gabon in February.
They were rescued on Saturday in Tombia, a creek in Bille waterways in Degema LGA of Rivers state.
Mohammed Yahaya, commanding officer of the battalion, while handing over the rescued persons to the Department of State Services (DSS) said they had paid their abductors $300,000 ransom before the troops moved in to rescue them.
“From preliminary findings, they were kidnapped off the coast of Gabon 7 February and brought into Nigerian creeks,” he said.
“A ransom of $300,000 was paid to secure their release before we came in.
“After that settlement, as they were about bringing them out of the creeks, they had issues that made them even susceptible to kidnapping again.
“So, men of the 29 Battalion, under the 6 Division, in conjunction with local vigilante launched that operation and were able to rescue them.
“They have a trolley, Socipeg, registered in Gabon. It was in course of their fishing activities that they were kidnapped.”
Yahaya added that the DSS is expected to do further investigations to unravel the circumstance and enable the army go after the abductors.
Asia-Pacific is home to some of the most expensive property markets in the world, making real estate companies in the region the largest in the world.
COVID-19 may have impacted the real estate sector hard globally, but the region still remains a lucrative source of wealth for those in the real estate industry. According to data presented by TradingPlatforms.com, 7 of the 10 biggest real estate companies in the world are in Asia – top 3 are from Hong Kong.
Top 10 Largest Real Estate Companies Based On Total Assets – 7 of 10 in Asia
Some of the most densely populated counties in the world can be found in Asia which also has the world’s highest share of the entire planet’s population. Because of this, real estate has always been a big business in the region. As of June 2020, the value of listed real estate from the Asia-Pacific region amounted to over $1.4T.
The industry’s lucrative history in the region has made it home to the world’s biggest real estate companies based on total assets. 7 out of the top 10 real estate companies can be found in Asia, with the top 3 coming from Hong Kong alone combining for almost $200B in total assets.
Mitsubishi Estate Company from Japan, the fourth-largest real estate company in the world, also calls the region its home, with total assets of $54B. The three other Asian companies on the top 10 list are Singapore’s GLP, Frasers Property and City Developments Limited with total assets of $30.5B, $28.1B and $15.3B respectively.
Three American companies occupy the remaining spots in the top 10 list namely; Prologis ($39.5B), WeWork ($27B) and Marriott International ($24.9B).
Wheelock and Company Largest Real Estate Company in the World, Was Able To Withstand Effects of COVID-19
2020 was a difficult year for the real estate industry. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Asia-Pacific region experienced a 45% decrease in real estate investment volumes. Despite Hong Kong’s economy contracting by the largest amount since the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997, Hong Kong’s Wheelock and Company’s value saw a 52% spike in 2020.
Wheelock and Company are the largest real estate company in the world with an estimated $75.7B in total assets as of February 2021. Its chairman, Peter Woo, privatized the company in June 2020 after 57 years of being a publicly listed company.
The significant move was credited by Forbes as one of the main factors for Wheelock and Co.’s strong performance in 2020: “Peter Woo got a boost after he privatized his holding company Wheelock & Co., which had long been trading at a conglomerate discount. Seen as a defensive move against a weakening real estate sector, the privatization gives Woo more flexibility as the company’s main holdings, Wharf and Wharf REIC, pursue ambitious projects in mainland China and Hong Kong.”
As a result of his company’s strong performance, Woo’s personal net worth saw an increase of 47% to $17B making him the 7th richest person in Hong Kong.
Tanzania’s health minister said earlier this month that the country has no plans to procure COVID-19 vaccines. Moina Spooner, an editor with The Conversation Africa, asked Catherine Kyobutungi to explain Tanzania’s COVID-19 response and why it’s problematic.
Why has the decision been taken not to vaccinate?
Tanzania has had a unique approach to controlling COVID-19. Only a few months into the pandemic last year, the president of the country, John Magufuli, declared Tanzania COVID-free following three days of national prayers.
He has since refused to impose a lockdown, re-opened schools, allowed large sporting events, continued religious gatherings, stopped testing and stopped public communications campaigns about the virus. The country also stopped reporting cases and deaths.
The argument was that people should stop living in fear and that they should trust in God and rely on traditional African remedies to prevent getting the virus. It may be the only country in the world that has taken this approach. It goes against everything that has been recommended by scientists, other national health agencies and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
It’s therefore not surprising that the authorities have said that they do not have plans to vaccinate the population against COVID-19, at least for now.
Will people still be able to access vaccines?
No. And yes.
No, because a vaccine may not be used in the country without it being registered and licensed for use. The normal process is that experts in the country, together with regulatory bodies, review the data about the vaccine and approve its use if they are satisfied about its efficacy and safety.
For the COVID-19 vaccine, this is being done through the WHO Emergency Use Listing procedure. The review is done by an international team of experts with participation of experts from national authorities.
If Tanzania refuses to register the vaccine for use in the country, it will not be accessible to anyone.
The country could, however, register the vaccine but refuse to import it. This would allow the private sector to import some, but it won’t be enough. COVID-19 vaccination programmes of any country are a massive undertaking. If it’s driven by the private sector many may not be able to access or afford the vaccines.
In the meantime those that could get vaccinated are Tanzania’s elites (or those with means) who could fly out of the country and get vaccinated elsewhere.
Other Tanzanians that could access vaccines are border communities who, in the past, have crossed over to neighbouring countries and benefited from vaccination programmes. This may be the case if and when widespread vaccination starts happening in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Malawi.
But that’s a couple of years from now.
There is still a chance that Tanzania could register and import the vaccines in the future. Magufuli has been sending mixed messages. On one hand, the government has said that it doesn’t plan to order vaccines through COVAX – a global initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines – or any other mechanism. Indeed, the recently released COVAX allocation has zero doses for Tanzania.
On the other hand, he has said that Tanzanians should only trust those vaccines that have been reviewed by Tanzanian experts and found to be safe.
Does Tanzania have a history of vaccination resistance?
Not that I am aware of.
Tanzania, like other countries, has implemented routine vaccination programmes. These mostly target children below the age of five against diseases like tuberculosis, polio, whooping cough, measles, rubella, and diphtheria. In recent years these expanded to include vaccines again bacterial pneumonia, diarrhoea and hepatitis B.
Vaccination coverage (the percentage of people who receive the vaccine out of the target population) in Tanzania is very high: around 80%-90%. This means that there isn’t a history of vaccine resistance.
What’s different in the country compared with neighbours like Kenya and Uganda
Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Malawi have all frantically been trying to get their hands on COVID-19 vaccines for their citizens. They have all participated in the COVAX facility, and have developed vaccine rollout plans, costed them and submitted them. Rwanda has even gone ahead and obtained vaccines outside the COVAX facility.
All four countries have also started communicating to the public about these plans. For instance, they’ve said that the first round of allocations will be prioritised for healthcare workers and high risk members of the population.
The biggest problem African countries face right now is the lack of vaccines on the global market to vaccinate a significant part of the population. Many rich countries will have vaccinated everyone that needs to be vaccinated by the end of this year. But African countries will only have a widely available vaccine late next year or even in 2023.
If the countries which have been aggressively looking for vaccines are so far behind, imagine a country like Tanzania which at this time has not even started.
What’s the risk for the country and the region?
The risk for the country is already evident. The approach taken by Tanzania has allowed the virus to spread unchecked in the population. All of a sudden, people are dying of what is being labelled as “pneumonia” and “breathing difficulties”.
People living in Tanzania aren’t sufficiently prepared or protected: there are no protocols for what lay people should do if someone falls sick to prevent the virus spreading. Most information is about steaming – to prevent COVID-19 – but that does not stop the virus spreading from person to person.
The second biggest problem is the impact on healthcare workers. Even in countries where stringent measures have been put in place, healthcare workers have fallen sick and many have died. Misinformation in Tanzania could mean health workers don’t take enough precautions in outpatient clinics, emergency rooms and even wards when taking care of patients. With healthcare workers falling sick, other health services are bound to be affected.
The biggest danger to the region and the world is two-fold.
First, as long as there are COVID-19 cases in Tanzania, it is impossible for neighbouring countries – with which it shares porous borders – to be COVID-free.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, is the risk of new variants developing in the country when no one is keeping track. New variants emerge because of uncontrolled spread.
If, down the line, a new variant emerges in Tanzania, the danger is that it could spread across the region and invalidate vaccinations that may have taken place if they’re not effective against that variant.
The pandemic will not end for anyone, anywhere until it is controlled in every country. Tanzania’s approach will make it that much harder for normality to return.
Mozambique's fisheries exports fell by 56 per cent in 2020 when compared with the previous year, as a result of a decline of catches by the industrial and semi-industrial fleets.
Speaking on Monday in Maputo at the opening session of a meeting on the prospects for fisheries in 2021, the Minister of the Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries, Augusta Maita, expressed her concern with the trend, over the last 20 years, for a decline in the contribution made by fisheries to the trade balance.
"The issue must deserve our special attention, through the adoption of concrete actions to reverse this scenario," Maita said, pointing out that the fishing campaign for 2021, opening officially on April 1 is already faced with the recent impacts of the tropical cyclones Chalane and Eloise that hit the Mozambican coast, damaging fishing boats and infrastructure and aquaculture production units.
As the 2021 campaign has to be undertaken in full accordance with the country's legislation, Maita reminded the participants that the Maritime Fishing Regulations (REPMAR), passed in 2020, are now in force and represent a landmark in the country's efforts to implement measures intended to manage, protect and ensure sustainable use of its fishery resources.
Despite the setback recorded last year by the sector, she said however that the fisheries recorded a recovery at the third quarter of 2020, translated into a positive performance and consequently a 1.6 per cent growth rate.
Maita also expressed the government's concern over the recent mass death of over 100 dolphins in Bazaruto Archipelago National Park (PNAB), in the southern province of Inhambane.
"Although the reasons are yet to be identified, such events pose a great concern as the creatures play a role in ecological balance," she said.
Source: Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique
The protests were driven by unemployment, food inflation, corruption, lack of political freedom and poor living conditions in the country.
But too little has changed. Protests continued to escalate after the imposition of a state of emergency in 2015, purportedly in response to escalating terrorism. This year, just days before the 10th anniversary of the Dignity Revolution, the government suddenly announced a lockdown and curfew. Undeterred, people still protested, and continue to do so.
Then as now, people protested for their socio-economic rights and to achieve a measure of social justice, as well as to have their political voice heard. Successive governments have increased repression of civil-political rights. And corruption –- which exploits ordinary people but benefits the wealthy and influential –- remains rampant. Rather than pursuing the ‘goals of the revolution’, the government rediscovered bad old habits, ignoring, or delegitimising dissent.
Our research has also found that worsening economic conditions, and increasing inequality, aren’t consequences of the Revolution but were produced by austerity measures. These were introduced by the government at the behest of the European Union and international financial institutions.
Roots of disaffection
Through our research, we’ve seen that Tunisians want a social democracy that delivers both socio-economic and civil-political rights. For Tunisians, social justice and socio-economic rights are integral parts of democracy and cannot be treated as mere outcomes.
In interviews, we’ve heard how people express frustration that the demands of 2011 were never met. And call for “another, real revolution.”
Public opinion surveys since 2011 consistently show Tunisians want a responsive government. They want it to provide decent public services and economic security, an end to corruption, democratic government, and social and political rights.
Instead – according to the Arab Barometer, a central resource for quantitative research on the Middle East – two-thirds of Tunisians think politicians are not concerned about people’s needs. Trust in politicians, political parties, or government is extremely low. And fewer than 10% are satisfied with the government overall. They are mostly dissatisfied with the government’s job-creation record, its performance in reducing inequalities, and its fight against inflation.
Signed, sealed, but not delivered
Economic grievances drove the Dignity Revolution, and have been an issue ever since. The government has failed to deliver economic growth, debt reduction, trade or employment. Unemployment remains high, the transition from school to employment is increasingly difficult and jobs have become more precarious.
In addition to this, in its most recent economic assessment, the World Bank highlighted a lack of investment, low private-sector productivity and exports below pre-revolution.
The government isn’t solely responsible for the failure to deliver on deep socio-economic reform. Our research suggests that international financial institutions and Western governments are also complicit. They have encouraged –- sometimes pushed -– Tunisia to adopt neo-liberal economic policies in exchange for aid and trade. For instance, structural reforms to public institutions and state-owned companies, reducing energy subsidies, and devaluation of the Tunisian dinar in line with the market-based exchange rate.
These policies reduce state expenditure, which means the government cannot improve social services or income support.
Whatever policymakers think they are doing, it has not worked. Nor has it dented popular dissatisfaction. The Tunisian government, the EU and international financial institutions need to rethink ‘tried and failed’ policies. They must adopt measures that meet people’s demands for dignity, employment, and an end to corruption.
The government could, for example, invest in infrastructure -– especially in the interior –- to create employment and attract both foreign and local investment. A progressive tax structure would redistribute wealth, increase internal demand, and send people a symbolically important signal. As would protection for the unemployed and a concerted fight against corruption.
For its part, the European Union could allow Tunisia greater access to its agricultural internal market, where Tunisian produce has a competitive advantage. They could also mitigate loan repayment conditions or indeed press for reforms making work more –- not less –- rewarding and secure.
This is explains why the transition is viewed as a failure. And why, just as they did 10 years ago Tunisians are calling for “isqaat an-nizaam”: the end not just of a particular autocrat’s rule but of an entire system.
Saerom Han, Honorary Research Fellow, University of Aberdeen; Andrea Teti, Senior Lecturer in International Relations, University of Aberdeen, and Pamela Abbott, Director of the Centre for Global Development and Professor in the School of Education, University of Aberdeen
Zimbabwe Vice President Kembo Mohadi resigned on Monday saying this was meant to save the image of the government following local media reports he had engaged in improper conduct.
Mohadi, along with Constantino Chiwenga, was a deputy to President Emmerson Mnangagwa since 2018, but without a political power base, he was not seen as a potential successor to the president.
In a rare move by a public official in Zimbabwe, Mohadi said he had taken the decision to step down “not as a matter of cowardice but as a sign of demonstrating great respect to the office of the President.”
Local online media service ZimLive has in the past two weeks carried reports that Mohadi had improper sexual liaisons with married women, including one of his subordinates.
Mohadi denied the accusations last week saying this was part of a political plot against him. On Monday he continued to deny the accusations saying he would seek legal recourse.
The Nigerian-Canadian company, mining gold in Nigeria’s Osun State is to start exporting the precious metal in June this year.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, made the announcement in Abuja on Sunday.
Speaking at a forum of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Adegbite described the Segilola Gold Project as a strategic investment for Nigeria’s economic diversification.
He described the company as a ‘poster child’ and the first foreign investor that was doing genuine and serious business in Nigeria.
Adegbite said that the firm was supposed to have started gold exportation in the first quarter of 2021 but that the date was shifted, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The company will start exporting gold from Nigeria in June,’’ he stated.
According to the minister, the project is being executed by Segilola Resource Operating Ltd., a licensed operator and Canadian company, located in Iperindo in Osun.
He said that the company was listed and quoted on the Toronto Stock Exchange in Canada, the eighth largest exchange in the world by market capitalisation, commanding some 3.1 trillion dollars.
Adegbite said that the company was making a positive impact, borne out of its desire to ensure compliance with the economic diversification agenda of the Federal Government.
“Mining is a bit capital intensive. So, we need to attract serious players, people who can put in the money and then of course, begin to make money after some investment because it has gestation period.
“Mining is not like trading where you put in your money today and then realise profit tomorrow.
“When you do exploration, it can take a year to three years, then you discover the mineral and then start the exploitation before money begins to roll in.”
Niger opposition leader Mahamane Ousmane has claimed that he narrowly won the country’s presidential election, as fresh violence erupted a day after official results gave victory to his rival by a wide margin.
“The compilation of result which we have in our possession through our representatives in the various polling stations give us victory with 50.3 percent of the vote,” Ousmane said on Wednesday, according to a video of a speech he made in the southeastern town of Zinder.
According to provisional results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), former interior minister Mohamed Bazoum picked up 55.75 percent of the vote in Sunday’s runoff and Ousmane 44.25 percent.
Police clashed with Ousmane supporters in the capital, Niamey, after CENI’s announcement on Tuesday, AFP news agency reported.
Sources in the city said at least one police station and shops owned by people perceived as being close to the government had been pillaged.
In Dosso, 100km (62 miles) south of Niamey, the offices of a pro-government party were damaged by fire, residents said.
Further violence erupted on Wednesday morning in Niamey’s central market area. Protesters threw stones and police responded with tear gas, and at least one petrol station was attacked, according to AFP.
In the afternoon, protesters confronted security forces in the southwestern town of Kollo, residents said.
Internet access was severely reduced on Wednesday in Niamey and Zinder.
Also on Wednesday, Moumouni Boureima, a former chief of staff of the armed forces, was arrested at his home, a security source said. He was accused of leading the disturbances after the election result was announced, the source told AFP.
Boureima is reportedly close to Hama Amadou, the man who had been expected to be the most formidable opposition candidate in the election. But Amadou was banned from running because of a conviction for baby trafficking – a charge he says was politically motivated – and threw his support behind Ousmane.
The elections have been presented as the first democratic transition in the history of the coup-prone state. President Mahamadou Issoufou is voluntarily stepping down after two five-year terms.
Bazoum, co-founder with Issoufou of the ruling PNDS party, picked up just over 39 percent of the vote in the first round on December 27. Ousmane won just under 17 percent.
In 1993, Ousmane became Niger’s first democratically elected president, only to be toppled in a coup three years later.
In his speech, Ousmane insisted “fraud” had been committed “pretty much everywhere in all of Niger’s regions”.
“You have expressed your clear willingness to break with poor government, you have expressed your desire for change, for an emerging Niger,” Ousmane said, addressing Nigeriens.
“This desire for change has been expressed by your voting massively in my favour,” he said.
In the constituency of Timia in the Agadez region, “a turnout of 103 percent was recorded, with a score of 99 percent in favour of the ruling party’s candidate,” he claimed.
“In these areas, our delegates were forced at gunpoint to sign certifications (of the vote) without any possibility of adding remarks,” he said.
CENI has not yet commented on the allegations of irregularities. An observer mission from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said the vote was held “under free, fair, credible and transparent conditions”.
It was marred, however, by two attacks that killed eight people in two regions where armed groups are active.
Seven of the victims were election workers in the western Tillaberi region, near the border with Mali, whose vehicle struck a landmine as they headed to the polls.
Bazoum, speaking at his party’s headquarters on Tuesday, said he would be “the president of all Nigeriens” and reached out to Ousmane.
“Knowing his wisdom, I would like to count on him,” Bazoum said.
“If the opposition has doubts [about the election], it should be able to have the evidence” to put to the Constitutional Court, which certifies the results, he said.
The leaders of Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Chad have congratulated Bazoum on his win.
The Francophonie organisation of French-speaking countries, meanwhile, condemned the post-election violence.
Niger is the world’s poorest nation according to the United Nations’ development rankings for 189 countries. It is also struggling with armed campaigns that have spilled over from Mali in the west and Nigeria in the southeast. Hundreds of lives have been lost and an estimated 460,000 people have fled their homes.
Source: Al Jazeera
Nigeria’s economy has bucked a global trend and has successfully exited recession in the fourth quarter of 2020.
According to data from the country’s National Bureau of Statistics, GDP increased by 0.11% in the period October-December, supported primarily by growth in agriculture and telecommunications, which expanded by 3.4% and 17.6% respectively.
While increased global oil prices contributed to the growth, the figures also demonstrate the increasing importance of the non-crude sector for Africa’s most populous nation and the diversification of the country’s economy. Analysts note that the figures may indicate a sustained period of faster growth, as the world watches on to see which countries achieve a V-shaped recovery following the pandemic.
Growth in domestic product was also supported by the country’s Economic Sustainability Plan, an ambitious set of policies announced by President Buhari’s administration in June 2020 to address the immediate challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Already, the focus on infrastructure and job creation in the agricultural and other labour-intensive sectors have borne fruit, and the Economic Sustainability Plan is soon to enter a new phase, with the installation of solar power in 5 million homes further boosting employment opportunities and access to power.
Femi Adesina, Special Advisor to President Buhari on Media, said “Infrastructure is where Buhari will leave his biggest footprints. Bridges. Rail. Airports. AKK gas pipeline. All to be delivered before the administration exits in 2023.”
In parallel, a new job creation initiative aimed at the country’s youth was launched in January, providing placements for over 700,000 unemployed young people.
Nigeria’s GDP numbers at the end of 2020 challenged the expectations of international organisations as well as global trends. Countries with larger stimulus packages, such as the USA and Japan, saw lower quarter on quarter growth than Nigeria over the period. In Europe, Spain and Germany also experienced unexpected increases of 0.4% and 0.1% respectively, while France’s GDP fell less than was forecast but remained negative.
This week also saw reports that corruption in Nigeria has fallen dramatically, with BudgIT, a civic advocacy organisation focused on budget and public finance issues, reporting the payment of public funds into personal accounts has declined by 94.75 percent.
While the trend in Nigeria is no doubt positive, risks of further waves of infection and a slow vaccine roll-out threaten the country’s sustained recovery, and are difficult to mitigate. Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NADFAC) recently approved the AztraZeneca vaccine for the country and has requested 10million doses from the World Health Organisation’s Covax programme. However, it is unclear when these vaccines will arrive and be rolled-out across Nigeria.
Credit: EU Reporter