The Federal Government on Monday announced its readiness to ensure seamless operation at Kaduna International Airport as Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja closes today March 8 for runway repairs.
The Minster of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this during a World News Conference organised by the ministry in Abuja. The news conference was attended by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika and the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris.
Mohammed said the Acting President had inspected Kaduna airport and the rail station to ascertain the level of readiness to ensure smooth operation during the six-week closure period. He said that the summary of the findings during the inspection was that even though the airport might not be 100 per cent ready, its current state was suitable enough for the operation.
The minister also disclosed that the repair work on the Abuja-Kaduna highway had been completed to ensure smooth passage for Abuja bound passengers. “As you are all aware, the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja will shut from the midnight of Tuesday March 7 to the Wednesday March 8 for the purpose of repairing the failed portion of the airport runway.
“During that time, Abuja flights will be diverted to Kaduna.
“On Friday, the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo inspected the Kaduna airport and the railway station to ascertain the state of readiness. “The summary of the finding is that while the airport may not be 100 per cent ready, by the time Abuja airport is shut, it will indeed be suitable enough,” he said.
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said government had concluded arrangements to provide free transportation service for Abuja-bound passengers to and from Kaduna. Amaechi said that the train services would be rearranged to suit the flight schedules at Kaduna airport, adding that the train would be coming from Kaduna instead of the current arrangement.
He said the Kaduna airport runway was in perfect shape, adding that it was a portion of the terminal building that was yet to be completed as at Friday. According to him, the work was nearing completion as at that day and the contractor promised to deliver it before the deadline. The Minister of State, Aviation, Sirika, craved the indulgence of air travelers to bear with the government on the closure.
He said that the decision was for safety reasons, which is the key word in aviation sector.
The minister said the part of the Kaduna airport terminal building had been completed as at this morning, adding that much work had been done to ensure smooth operation. According to him, the ministry has provided a dedicated website (www.abujaairportclosure.info) to update airport users on the operations at Kaduna during the period. Sirika said the government had no other option than to shut the Abuja airport runway considering the level of dilapidation that had made it to fail completely.
He said that Kaduna airport would remain a seasonal international airport even after the six weeks period until it met the requirements to be a designated international airport. According to him, Ethiopian Airline is the only foreign airline that has expressed its readiness to fly the airport so far but at the end we expect more to operate the airport.
The minister reiterated the government’s plan to concession all the airports for efficiency beginning from the big four such as Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt. “We have already concluded the arrangement for the appointment of transaction adviser that will commence work in a matter of weeks,” he said.
The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, assured that the police had made adequate security plans to ensure seamless operation between Abuja and Kaduna airports. Idris said the police force had enough capacity and capability to carry out efficient surveillance on the road, the rail line and air during the six weeks. According to him, he was in Kaduna on Sunday to conduct assessment of security in the airport, on the road and the rail at Jere and Idu stations.
“In the whole, our deployment on the ground is perfect because we have the various units of the Nigeria Police Force in charge of specialized units. “We have the force Explosive Ordinance Department (EOD), we have the force animals in charge of dogs; we have the patrolling team and the mobile force as well as the air wing.
“As I stated, all the units are deployed fully on ground,” he said.
South Africa’s competition watchdog ruled that Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd’s (K-Line), one of Japan’s biggest transport companies, had conspired to rig bids for shipping cars.
The Competition Commission said it had recommended a fine equivalent to 10 percent of Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd’s (K-Line) local turnover. A K-Line representative in South Africa declined to comment on the case or to estimate the value of the fine.
The Commission said K-Line rigged bids with rivals between 2002 and 2013 to fix prices and divide the market for shipping from South Africa. The Commission said K-Line was working with Mitsui O.S.K Lines Ltd, Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha Ltd and Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics AS.
Nippon and Walleneus, a Norwegian company, admitted to colluding. Nippon paid 103 million rand and Walleneus paid 95.6 million rand in penalties, the Commission said. Mitsui was not fined because it was first to approach the Commission with information, the watchdog said. “South Africa is a strategic hub for the trade of goods in and out of the Southern African region,” the Commission’s head Tembinkosi Bonakele said in a statement.
“Cartels of this nature increase the costs of trading … and render the region uncompetitive in the world market.”
The Commission has passed its findings to the Competition Tribunal, which holds hearings on antitrust cases before giving a final ruling.
Black Africa’s first independent nation celebrated its 60th independence anniversary this week. A pioneer in many ways, Ghana was the first country in sub Saharan Africa to secure independence from Britain on March 6, 1957.
Ghana’s post-independence experience is also in many ways the African post-colonial story. President Kwame Nkrumah was a founding member of the Organisation of African Unity, the precursor to the African Union. He was also the most influential voice in the Pan-African movement in the early years of independence.
The Pan-Africanist flame burnt brightest at the height of agitation for independence, drawing in the likes of Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Hastings Kamuzu Banda of Malawi and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania. But the Pan-Africanist rhetoric was soon extinguished as its leaders secured independence for their countries.
Ghana’s anniversary is well worth celebrating. Over the last six decades Ghana has transitioned from military dictatorships to a well functioning democracy while it’s economy has seen both boom and near bust. Its story offers both lessons and hope that Africa can fashion its own dignified path to peace and democracy.
The early decades
Nkrumah’s vision for Ghana was founded on the nationalist demands that drove agitation against colonialism. He sought to steer his young country to significant progress in health and education. Also on the new leader’s agenda were other social and economic issues confronting the country.
This vision was embedded in his seven-year development plan presented to parliament on March 11, 1964. In his view, the 1963-1970 plan would ultimately,
bring Ghana to the threshold of a modern state based on a highly organised and efficient agricultural and industrial programme.
Nkrumah believed he could completely obliterate the dependency-driven colonial economy he inherited which reduced Ghana to an importer of finished goods sold at exorbitant prices and exporter of raw materials bought cheaply. In its place would be an industrialised economy modelled along a socialist production and distribution system which would make Ghana self-sufficient and self-reliant.
But we will never know what all his success would have looked like. Nkrumah’s vision was cut short by a pro-western military coup in 1966. The planning of it was known to the US which considered Nkrumah a significant threat to its interests in Africa.
The acting special assistant for National Security Affairs R.W. Komer praised the coup as
…another example of a fortuitous windfall. Nkrumah was doing more to undermine our interests than any other black African.
Some 50 years after his overthrow, however, Nkrumah remains a household name in Ghana because of his investments in education, health and energy. Many of his contributions to other important sectors, such as the building of the Akosombo Dam, the Accra-Tema Motorway, the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, University of Cape Coast, continue to support the economy today.
Nkrumah’s overthrow in 1966 was followed by four military takeovers in 1972, 1978, 1979 and 1981. Two democratically elected governments established in 1969 and 1979 were overthrown by the military. Eventually, the current succession of democratic elections was established in 1993.
In its early years Ghana’s flirtation with socialism dominated its politics. However, the civilian governments that followed steered the country onto a capitalist economic path in which the Bretton Woods institutions often dictated the pace.
But the country has been unable to achieve the envisioned self-reliant and self-sufficient economic policies. But it’s not all gloom and doom.
Democracy success story
Ghana has made remarkable progress as one of the success stories in Africa’s democratic project over the past 25 years. Political power has changed three times – all important milestones;
from the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in 2001;
from the ruling NPP to the NDC in 2009; and
from the ruling NDC back to the NPP in January, 2017.
Ghanaians have cast aside the authoritarian politics of the past. In its place is expanded political space which has helped to shape and broaden the frontiers of rights. Free speech and association is guaranteed, civil society organisations have greater influence over policy making and media is free to perform its gate-keeping.
It’s no coincidence that Ghana has emerged as one of the most peaceful nations on the globe. According to the 2016 Global Peace Index, Ghana – ranked 44th – is more peaceful than France – ranked 46th – and the United Kingdom – ranked 47th positions.
A nation in good health
Ghana has also made progress in numerous measures of well-being, especially poverty reduction and the provision of health and education is exemplary. It’s among the few countries around the world that have recorded significant reduction in poverty.
The health care scorecard is one of the most impressive in sub-Saharan Africa too. Ghana is one of the few countries with a universal health insurance scheme. And there’s a great deal to show from investments in the health sector. The country ranked 7th out of 153 countries on measles immunisation between 1990 and 2008, and while the regional average of measles vaccination rate stood at 75%, Ghana recorded 91%.
But many challenges remain.
Yo-yo economic growth
Economic growth has been swinging like a pendulum. Over a decade ago the country’s economy was growing at 7%, then roaring ahead with a growth rate of over 14% in 2011. Since then growth has declined considerably. In 2015 it expanded by just 4%.
Currently, Ghana is under an IMF bail-out programme because of its inability to contain its huge budget deficit, rising inflation and falling currency.
The jury is still out on whether the country can turn its economic fortunes around again. Unemployment rates are alarmingly high – at an estimated 48% – and the country faces a power crisis, high depreciation of the currency and high interest rates.
Nevertheless, Ghana is still very much the rising star in some spheres – just struggling in others like many of its African peers.
The task of driving innovation is now the biggest process-related challenge facing the region's CIOs, according to the results of IDC's Middle East CIO Summit Survey 2017.
The results were announced as Day 2 of the firm's 10th anniversary Middle East CIO Summit continued today aboard the luxury Royal Caribbean Cruise liner 'Vision of the Seas'. Running under the theme "Enabling Dynamic Change for the Digital Era", the event is playing host to 100 of the region's most influential ICT leaders as they embark on a seven-day cruise around the waters of the Arabian Gulf.
"Our findings suggest that the top three challenges facing the region's CIOs in 2017 are the need to drive greater innovation through IT, measure the ROI of IT investments, and manage growing expectations and service needs," says Jyoti Lalchandani, IDC's group vice president and regional managing director for the Middle East, Africa, and Turkey.
"Meanwhile, cybersecurity/privacy solutions and mobile technologies are seen as the key technologies for supporting the quest for digital transformation, with the most valuable outcomes of undertaking this process identified as a superior customer experience, improved decision making based on timely analytical insights, and enhanced process optimization and/or automation."
IDC's senior vice president for EMEA and managing director for CEMA, Steven Frantzen, got the day's proceedings underway with by chairing a panel discussion on the need for CIOs to drive greater collaboration with their line-of-business counterparts in order to enable a smoother and more successful digital transformation process. Joining him on the panel were C. Krishna Kumar, COO of Qatar Islamic Bank, Dr. Arwa Al Aama, vice mayor for IT Affairs at Jeddah Municipality, Fuad Al Ansari, vice president of IT at TAKREER, and Ajay Rathi, head of IT, at Meraas.
Jonathan Duncan, ITD vice president for Schneider Electric's building and IT business in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, then took to the stage to highlight the key challenges and opportunities brought about by the uptake of cloud computing solutions. He was later joined by IDC's vice president of DevOps, Stephen Elliot, and Dr. Ayad Y Aldaijy, IT director for the UAE's Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture as they discussed the opportunities for driving innovation and enabling value-added services through cloud deployments.
The next session was hosted by Olivier Schaller, associate vice president of IDC's IT Executive Programs in the Middle East, Africa, and Turkey, who examined the ways in which the emergence of blockchain technologies will disrupt a wide range of industries, particularly in relation to financial services, payments, contracts, and supply-chain transactions. Chairing a panel with Anshul Srivastav, CIO of Union Insurance Company, and Zubair Ahmed, head of IT and business innovation at Emirates Islamic Bank, Schaller then explored a variety of emerging use cases and drove discussions on how organizations should begin the process of integrating blockchains into their plans.
Following an hour-long networking break, the delegates split into two parallel technology tracks. Chaired by Ranjit Rajan, IDC's associate vice president for research in the Middle East, Africa, and Turkey, the first session provided guidance on maximizing enterprise performance through the implementation of software-defined infrastructure, and featured insights from Gregg Petersen, regional director for MEA and SAARC at Veeam Software; Adrian Pickering, regional general manager at Red Hat; Paulo Pereira, systems engineering manager at Nutanix; Ismail Abed, CIO of Agility; and Mukta Arora, Group CIO of Aster DM Healthcare.
The second technology track was chaired by IDC's Pete Lindstrom, vice president of enterprise/next-gen security research, and sought to unveil the security realities and risks inherent in today's digital world. The session played host to two panel discussions featuring the thoughts of Rasheed Al Omari, principal business solutions strategist (SEMEA) at VMware; Roland Daccache, senior systems engineer at Fidelis Cybersecurity; Khaled Alateeq, senior systems engineer for defense and intelligence at Fire Eye; Edward Ganom, CISO at Commercial Bank of Qatar; Sajeev Menon, head of IT Security, Commercial Bank of Dubai; Adnan Qureshi, Head of Business Continuity at Riyad Bank; and Mohamed Mousa, Senior IT Security and Risk Management Consultant at SABIC.
The day ended with the completion of the Summit's popular CIO Workshops, leveraging IDC's groundbreaking IT Executive Programs to provide attendees with in-depth guidance on using strategic architecture as a tool for digital transformation and implementing effective cost-benefit analysis for digital security programs. Day 3 kicks off at 9.30am tomorrow with a series of intimate focus groups that will enable those in attendance to tailor their Summit experience to meet their own unique needs.
While tomorrow signals the end of the Middle East CIO Summit's agenda for 2017, the cruise will continue for a further three days before docking back in Dubai's Port Rashid on Sunday.