There is growing concern that the lockdown measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria may lead to the collapse of many of the manufacturing firms in the country. This is even as the measures, which are currently on ease in many states, have dislocated trade and supply chains leading to a severe squeezing in the firms’ output. Manufacturers fear that banks and creditors may swoop on them from the third quarter of the year as their hope of paying back loans dims due to a worsening economy caused by the disease. According to the Acting Director-General of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Ambrose Oruche, many members have been complaining that they can’t pay salaries and that banks may close in on them. This may eventually lead to the takeover of the firms. The MAN president, Frank Jacobs, made reference to 2016 which he said a less strenuous situation occurred when foreign exchange inflows into Nigeria fell by more than half. Fifty-four firms were shut down in 2016/17, and more than 200,000 jobs were lost during this period. To him, the current situation is made worse by the import and export stalled and the price of Bonny Light and Brent Crude falling below $30 per barrel. The association is asking the FG and state governments to ask the security agencies to allow movement of manufacturers’ vehicles to avoid the looming danger. The IMF had said Nigeria’s economy risks plunging into a recession, its worst in three decades. The fund predicted that the economy will shrink by 3.4 percent in 2020. With firms sacking workers on the back of COVID-19, the unemployment rate, currently at 23 percent, may near 30 percent, according to experts. Manufacturers will be among the hardest hit as their production cost continues to spike and poverty ravages nearly half of the Nigerian population, who are their potential customers.
The International Energy Agency on Thursday trimmed down its forecast for the drop in crude oil demand due to countries easing their lockdown measure in the fight against coronavirus pandemic. The agency had projected that the crude oil demand to witness a record fall this year. According to the IEA, demand is expected to fall by 8.6 million barrels per day. It raised its estimate by 690,000 bpd compared to last month. In its monthly report, IEA said around 2.8 billion people will be living under confinement measures aimed at containing the novel coronavirus at the end of May, down from 4 billion in April. Stronger-than-expected mobility in some European countries, the United States and higher Chinese demand as the world recovers from the virus outbreak were reasons the Paris-based agency adjusted its forecast. It said “economic activity is beginning a gradual-but-fragile recovery. However, major uncertainties remain. The biggest is whether governments can ease the lockdown measures without sparking a resurgence of COVID-19 outbreaks.” The IEA predicted that by the end of 2020, the United States would be the biggest single contributor to supply reductions, down 2.8 million bpd year on year. However, the IEA director Fatih Birol said that the recently announced output cuts by major Gulf Arab producers would likely not be enough to balance global markets. The shortage of oil storage capacity worldwide and especially in the United States has addled markets and weighed on crude prices in recent weeks.
Ekiti has reduced its right of way charges from ₦4,500 per metre to ₦145. The governor of the state Kayode Fayemi, signed an executive order on Thursday to effect the reduction. With the reduction, 1km of cable will now cost ₦145,000 rather than the previous N45 million for the RoW charge, the levy paid to state governments for laying of optic fibre on state roads. A single telecoms operator needs RoW covering thousands of kilometres. Going by the development, Ekiti is the first state in Nigeria to comply with the NEC approved the right of way charges for broadband thus becoming the cheapest state for broadband infrastructure investment. Fayemi said the executive order is part of ongoing reforms to make the state attractive to investors within five years. 14 states; Lagos, Kano, Anambra, Ondo, Cross River, Kogi, Osun, Kaduna, Enugu, Adamawa, Ebonyi, Imo, Kebbi and Gombe, had hiked their RoW charges at the beginning of the year. The cost of RoW on federal roads is N142 per linear metre. At the time, the minister of communications and digital economy, Isa Pantami, had warned states that telecommunications companies would transfer the costs to customers.
Burundi has expelled the World Health Organization representative in the country and three other health experts. An unsigned letter from the foreign affairs ministry declares the WHO representative Walter Kazadi Mulombo and three others as “persona non grata” and gives them 48 hours to leave the country. The others are Prof Tarzy Daniel, Dr Ruhana Mirindi Bisimwa and Dr Jean Pierre Murunda. Burundi Foreign Affairs Minister Ezechiel Nibigira did not deny or confirm the letter in a phone interview, but a source at the ministry confirmed its authenticity to the BBC. The ministry has not given reasons for the expulsion of the officials. Burundi government is facing criticism for organising elections amid the coronavirus pandemic. Campaign rallies by candidates for the presidency are taking place across the nation ahead of the 20 May election and no measures to contain the virus are being observed – sparking fears of its imminent spread. The country has reported 27 cases so far including one death.