Daily Watch – Dangote backs border closure despite hit, FG tracks 100 over COVID-19 fears

2nd March 2020

Nigerian authorities have been in touch with around 100 people who may have been exposed to an Italian man who is the country’s first coronavirus patient, the Lagos state health commissioner said on Sunday. The man arrived in Lagos on 24 February from Milan on a Turkish Airlines flight that had a connection in Istanbul. The following day he travelled to neighbouring Ogun state and was in the country for almost two full days before being isolated. Asked in a telephone interview about the number of people Nigerian authorities had been in touch with who may have had contact with the man, Lagos state Health Commissioner Akin Abayomi said: “It is around 100 people but that number is increasing every minute.” The Italian man, who is being treated at a hospital in the Yaba district of Lagos, works as a vendor for cement company Lafarge Africa Plc in the southwestern state of Ogun. The company issued a statement on Sunday in which it said its cement production lines remained open. It said 39 people who were in direct contact with the man had been quarantined.

MTN Nigeria recorded a 38.8% profit growth to ₦202.1 million in 2019, according to the company’s full-year audited financial report. The firm declared a final dividend of ₦4.97 kobo per share as recommended by the Board of Directors. The telecom giant also recorded an increase of 6.1 million mobile subscriber base to reach 64.3 million. The active data users increased by 6.5 million to 25.2 million while service revenue increased by 12.6% to ₦1.2 trillion in the year ended December 31, 2019. The MTN Nigeria Chief Executive Officer, Ferdi Moolman said the company closed the year with 132 cities covered by 4G and became the first mobile network operator in West Africa to demonstrate the capability of 5G technology. He added that the firm had made significant progress in resolving the dispute with the Attorney General of the Federation on the adequacy of taxes and duties paid. Moolman reiterated the commitment of the company to investing ₦600 billion in Nigeria in the next three years.

The President of the Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, has announced his support for Nigeria’s border closure policy of the President Muhammadu Buhari as he debunked insinuations that the policy was responsible for the drop in Dangote Cement’s profitability for the year 2019. According to Dangote, the border closure policy was the best for the country’s economy at this point in time. He added that the border closure could not in any way impact negatively on the company’s performance as it was building its terminals across Africa. The company’s investment across Africa is also bearing the desired results as pan-African sales volume grew in 2019, hitting 9.6MT from 9.4MT. The cement plant in Mtwara, Tanzania, recorded an increase of 94% increase in volume last year. The firm’s cement plant in Pout, Senegal recorded a sales increase that exceeded 100% of rated capacity. The management of Dangote had approved that N16 per share be paid to the shareholders despite the drop in profitability. According to the Group Chief Executive Officer, Dangote Cement, Joe Makoju, Dangote Cement maintained strong financial performance despite a low growth environment, pricing pressure and increasing competition in key markets.

The United States’ Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) updated its alert issued on Wednesday, warning civilian airliners and all operators of US-registered aircraft to “exercise caution” when flying over Kenyan airspace, citing possible attacks by extremists. “Those persons are advised to exercise caution when flying into, out of, within, or over the territory and airspace of Kenya East of 40 degrees East longitude at altitudes below fl260 due to the possibility of extremist/militant activity,” the agency said. The US, backed by an express Nairobi-New York air link, is Kenya’s top source of foreign tourists recording 245,437 arrivals last year. The FAA asked American operators to report any security-related incidents they may encounter within the airspace, in addition to sharing their travel plans at least 72 hours ahead of planned flights to Kenya. The FAA said it will review the advisory by February 26, 2021. Kenya has been the victim of multiple terror attacks by the Somali terrorist organisation, Al-Shabaab.