The West African Health Organisation has pointed out that Nigeria and four other countries are responsible for over 80 percent of the COVID-19 cases in West Africa. The Director-General of WAHO, Stanley Okolo, while addressing Members of ECOWAS Parliament during the Second Extraordinary Session, however, said that the case fatality rate in the region is under control. The official said that as at 16 July, the five countries; Nigeria, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and Guinea, recorded 84,118 cases out of the 96,936 cases in the region. He added that death as a result of COVID-19 in the region is still relatively low at about 1.6 percent. But that, of course, hides the fact that it is a rise from about 0.5 per cent to some countries that are at about 6 per cent, Okolo said. If the number of active cases was to be considered, then Guinea Bissau with over 1,000 active cases would be added to the list of highest contributors. The WAHO boss said that the case fatality rate for the region was currently at a median of about 2.16 percent and an average of 1.6 per cent. But the range of people dying after COVID-19 diagnosis is from about 0.57 percent in Ghana to about six per cent in Niger. He noted that the younger people accounted for more of the cases, adding that the age-group contributed to the highest number of those who are nonchalant about precautions.

A survey, conducted by Edelman Intelligence, the independent research arm of the Edelman global network, has rated the government as the least trusted institution in Nigeria. The survey tested how well people trust the four critical institutions of the society, government, business, media and non-governmental organisations, to do what is right. The survey said the government remains the least trusted with Nigerians having no confidence in the ability of current leaders to address the country’s challenges successfully. Trust in chief executive officers of businesses as positive change agents rose while trust in NGOs and the media also increased, according to the supplementary data for Nigeria. Although the degree of trust across the four institutions in the country increased compared to 2019, business still led with 91 percent, followed by NGOs with 87 percent, media with 84 percent then government with 55 percent. Among the all-female panel that analysed the survey are Maryam Uwais, special adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on social protection; Folashade Ambrose Medebem, director, Public Affairs, Lafarge; Stella Din Jacobs, director of News, TVC; and Yemi Adamolekun, the convener, Enough is Enough. Ms Ademolakun said the poor level of transparency is responsible for the little trust Nigerians have for their government and called for increased accountability and transparency as well as prompt dissemination of information.

Nigerian oil marketing companies imported 536,000 metric tonnes of petrol this year, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency has said. The development was recorded after the downstream sector was deregulated on 19 March 2020. Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, before the date, was operated as the sole importer of petrol into the country for more than two years. According to the Executive Secretary, PPPRA, Abdulkadir Saidu, the deregulation exercise had increased investment in the industry. He added that since the commencement of the new price regime, which heralds full deregulation of the sector, a considerable increase in the level of OMCs’ participation in PMS importation has been recorded. The decision to deregulate the sector was a reflection of the new market-based pricing system, which did not seek to harm consumers but foster growth in the sector and prevent wastages resulting from the subsidy. Going by this, the agency no longer fixed prices but rather provided a guiding price band within which operators were expected to operate, the secretary said.

The South African Reserve Bank has projected the country’s economy to contract even more this year and inflation stays muted as the bank cut interest rates for the fifth time in as many meetings. According to the reserve Reserve bank’s governor Lesetja Kganyago, the monetary policy committee voted to lower the repurchase rate to 3.5% from 3.75%. Of the five members on the panel, three favoured a 25 basis-point cut and two wanted to hold. The key rate is at the lowest level since it was introduced in 1998. According to Bloomberg, of 16 economists surveyed, seven forecast an unchanged stance, five predicted a 25 basis-point cut and four said the central bank would ease by 50 basis points. The central bank’s quarterly projection model now forecasts a repurchase rate of 3.48% by the end of this year and 3.87% by the end of 2021 as inflation eased to below the 3% bottom end of the regulator’s target range for the first time in 15 years in May. The central bank sees the economy contracting by 7.3% in 2020, even more than its previous estimate of 7%, due to a prolonged lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus. The MPC also reduced its economic growth forecasts for the next two years, to 3.7% for 2020 and 2.8% in 2022. Experts have urged the bank to do more to boost the economy and help reduce the country’s 30.1% unemployment rate.