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Wednesday, 05 February 2020
Wednesday, 05 February 2020 11:41

English Premier League seeks improvement of VAR

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters admits his organisation must try to improve VAR after a season marred by controversy surrounding the review technology.

A recent survey from opinion polling firm YouGov showed more than two-thirds of Premier League fans believe VAR has made the game less enjoyable since it was introduced into the English top-flight.

Players, managers and fans have all complained about the way the system is used, with lengthy review delays and dubious eventual decisions causing widespread frustration.

Masters, who started his permanent role with the Premier League in December, told BBC Sport that VAR would stay in the game, but he hopes it can be improved.

“I don’t think VAR has been damaging but I accept it needs improvement,” Masters said.

“Scrapping it is not an option — what we have to do is try and make VAR better.”

VAR has been brought in to the Premier League to decide on goals, penalties, red cards and offside decisions.

Masters revealed to the BBC that the Premier League would discuss changes to VAR with the clubs in April.

“We are going to have a debate about what sort of VAR they would like next season and what improvements can be made to the system,” he said.

“It’s going to be a work in progress this season and next as we try to rebalance it so you get the positives of better decision-making and fewer of the perceived negatives about delay and sometimes confusion.”

Meanwhile, in his first major media interviews, Masters said he does not believe homegrown player quotas will improve the fortunes of the England team.

The balance between homegrown and overseas players in a 25-man Premier League squad is back in the spotlight following the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, which will affect the way clubs do their international transfer business once the transition period ends at the end of the year.

The Football Association has previously stated in November 2018 that it favoured cutting the number of overseas players per squad from 17 to 13 with a view to boosting the chances of young English talent.

FA representatives are due to present to Premier League clubs at the league’s shareholders’ meeting on Thursday, and Masters says the conversation will be taken forward from there.

“We have to come up with a different system,” he said.

“The FA, the EFL and the Premier League all agree that (system) shouldn’t impact on the competitiveness of the Premier League, that concept of the best versus the best. Clubs should still be able to acquire the best talent and support a cohort of homegrown players coming through the system.

“We don’t necessarily believe quotas are the answer.”

Masters also spoke about the relationship between Premier League clubs and betting companies, following criticism of the Football Association for allowing FA Cup matches to be streamed on betting websites.

“The government deregulated gambling … in 2005, and I think it’s probably about time to have another look at it, the government are going to do that, we’ll be welcome participants in that,” he said.

“Our clubs have always abided by rules and regulations in relation to it, I think this area does need stronger governance, particularly to protect the vulnerable.

“I don’t think the answer coming out at the end of it should be that football clubs shouldn’t have shirts sponsored by gambling companies any more, but we will certainly co-operate with the review.”

Published in World
Wednesday, 05 February 2020 09:52

Nigeria to stop fish importation 2022

The Nigerian Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, says following Federal Government’s effort to encourage local production, Nigeria may stop fish importation in 2022.

The minister made this known while receiving a delegation from the National Fish Association of Nigeria (NFAN) led by its National President, Dr Gabriel Ogunsanya in Abuja on Tuesday.

Nanono said the time had come for Nigeria to look inward to tap into the huge potential in fisheries and aquaculture for local consumption and export.

He noted that measures were already been put in place by the government to actualise the plan.

According to him, this is an area that we can join hands to promote fish production. We have to seriously reduce importation of fish into the country.

“Last year, we issued about one million licenses. This year, I virtually cut it into half.

“I hope next year we will further cut it so that in the next two years we may rely entirely on what we produce here.

“Since you are producers and probably processors it is important to take note of your development in the fish sector towards this,” he said.

He further said, “In the next years, probably we will not allow the importation of fish into the country.

“I know people are saying we can only rear catfish, tilapia and a few other species but most of the white fish they do not do well here.

“But I know for a fact that the consumption of catfish is very high in this country both the fresh one as well as the smoked one.

“In fact, I was made to understand that it now has an export market. So, if you put your head together and work hard, the future is very bright for fish producers in this country,” he said.

The minister assured the association of the government’s readiness to assist where necessary to move the industry forward.

Earlier in his remarks, the President of NFAN, Dr Gabriel Ogunsanya, while commending the minister for his commitment to moving agriculture to the next level, called for assistance in some areas.

He urged the Minister to involve members of the association in training programmes of the ministry and other relevant agencies.

He said, “we need a letter of introduction to CBN, NIRSAL, BOI, BOA for timely intervention to boost the fish industry production business in Nigeria.

“We also pray for the minister to guarantee loans and credit facilities for the purpose of business expansion.

“The association also needs a letter of introduction to the 36 state governments and the FCT, Abuja.

“We also kindly pray that the minister looks into reactivating dormant fishery terminals, fish markets, hatcheries and develop broodstock bank for identified fish species and privatise the for utilisation of NFAN members.”

The president equally urged the minister to direct research institutes to embark on demand-driven researches to benefit the entire industry.

He also called for measures to be put in place to support commercial fish production from along the value chain for both local and export markets.

Ogunsanya also urged the minister to involve the association in the policy formulations for the fish industry.

He called for the establishment of a liaison office space to ensure closeness to our mother ministry and smooth interface with your management.

On the gains of the association so far, the president said, it had made some progress in the last few years

He said, “the National Fish Association of Nigeria is the umbrella body for all fisheries and aquaculture industry value chain in Nigeria.

“It has the mandate and responsibility of bringing together every farmer and industry operator groups to obtain or share useful business information and training.

“The association was established by the Federal Government to play such roles long other things.

“We have carried out several advocacy enlightenment and training activities and programmes for both the existing and upcoming fish farmers, producers and processors.

“We have undertaken business development promotion engagements with MDAs and development partners including the CBN, NIRSAL, NEPC, SON, Quarantine and Raw Materials Research Council.

“Also, between Sept. and Oct. last year, we met with the AUIBAR Consultant on fisheries from Nairobi as well as the Cultivating New Frontier in Agriculture (CNFA), the prime implementing partners of USAID’s Feed the Future Project in Nigeria.

“All efforts in this regard are geared toward repositioning the industry and better the lot of the farmers and stakeholders.”

Part of the NFAN delegation was Dr Ladan Aliyu, Deputy National President and National Vice Presidents representing North West, North East, South-South and South East.

Other executive members including the National Publicity Secretary, Chief Chidike Uko, were part of the delegation.

Published in Agriculture

Five new start-ups have been accepted into the Venture Scale programme, which is an initiative of Founders Factory Africa (FFA); backed by Standard Bank and Netcare as corporate investors.

The five startups were formally inducted into the Venture Scale programme on Monday, February 3, 2020.

All five startups have developed product offerings targeted at the FinTech or HealthTech sectors; and are set for an aggressive growth strategy – aided by the technical and operational expertise offered at FFA. The Venture Scale programme at FFA affords African startups the opportunity of rapid scale, made possible through a financial cash investment in tailored support services – across product development, UX/UI, data science, engineering, business development and growth marketing.

Roo Rogers, Co-Founder & CEO Founders Factory Africa, says: “The five businesses joining the Venture Scale programme represent some of the best of African entrepreneurship and innovation. From point-of-care DNA testing to agricultural logistics, the Founders Factory Africa portfolio has the potential to truly drive economic growth and transform the continent. We’re incredibly excited to be part of the growth of these businesses and to deliver their true scale potential.”

In addition to the hands-on support provided, participating startups will also have access to exclusive partnerships with FFA’s pan-African corporate investors, Standard Bank and Netcare, which unlocks many of the scaling challenges that businesses face. This includes distribution channels, customer acquisition, pilots, data, IP and expertise, essentially offering the startups a very huge advantage in the competitive marketplace.

Larry McCarthy, Head of Strategic Investments and Alliances at Standard Bank, says that he is excited to grow entrepreneurship across the continent.

He stated: “Seed capital and business development programmes like FFA are needed to meet the fast-paced demand for technology across all sectors of business, and the effect it can have on improving growth. Standard Bank, being an African business, is committed to participating in this vital element of the economy.”

Among the five new startups joining the Venture Scale programme at FFA is Foodlocker, a Nigerian-based company. Foodlocker forecasts foodstuff demand through deep machine learning, thus enabling large-scale buyers to efficiently procure fast-moving consumer goods and fresh produce from smallholder farmers. Others startups included in the programme are LocumBase, Akili Labs and EnvisionIt Deep AI, all from South Africa.

Locum Base is an independent, online booking and management platform that provides real-time availability of verified locum medical professionals, by assisting practices in need of short-term, qualified stand-ins, who are able to provide quality care when needed most.

Speaking on the programme, Richard Friedland, CEO of the Netcare Group, says: “We’re excited about the selection of the first three healthtech startups, which will help stimulate healthcare innovation and development across the continent. By joining forces with FFA, we’re helping to create a support system for entrepreneurs, as well as providing value to people across Africa.”

The FFA model includes its Venture Scale programme focused on developing existing startups, whilst the Venture Build programme harnesses the power of technology to build completely new businesses solving mass needs on the African continent.

Published in Bank & Finance

The United States Government said on Monday it notified all the foreign governments including Nigeria about the identity-management and information-sharing criteria in 2019.

Washington disclosed this in the full report of the visa restrictions titled: “Proclamation on improving enhanced vetting capabilities and process,” published on www.whitehouse.gov.

According to the document, the US described Nigeria as one of the worst-performing countries on the performance metrics which it said led to the imposition of migrant visa restriction on the country.

In the new visa regime announced by the US Government on January 31, Nigerians and nationals of five other nations were slammed with travel restrictions which takes effect on February 21.

Other countries listed in the new arrangement are Eritrea, Myanmar, Tanzania, Sudan and Kyrgyzstan.

The document read: “The process began on March 11, 2019, when the United States Government formally notified all foreign governments (except for Iran, Syria, and North Korea) about the refined performance metrics for the identity-management and information-sharing criteria.”

Published in Travel & Tourism
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