The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, based in Addis Ababa has said that seven African countries: Liberia, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Nigeria, Morocco, will start administering coronavirus antibody tests from next week. The body said on Thursday that this is a part of efforts to understand the extent of the outbreak on the continent. According to the head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong, the countries are the first set that committed to the antibody test. Western governments are using antibody tests to find out how many of their citizens have been infected, in the hope that will help them reopen their economies. Africa has so far conducted 9.4 million coronavirus tests, a 10% increase over last week, Nkengasong said. These tests show whether people currently have COVID-19. As of Thursday, Africa had recorded more than one million cases of COVID-19 and 24,113 deaths, according to a Reuters tally as the continent’s relative isolation has so far spared it the worst of the pandemic. Africa’s infection rates are likely to be higher than reported, experts have said. Nkengasong said 25 African countries still have full border closures while 23 are imposing testing at entry points.
Nigeria’s banking system remained ‘sound and resilient’ despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 lockdown, a member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Rafindadi Sanusi has said. The total assets of the banking sector rose to ₦47.82 trillion as of the end of June, according to Sanusi during the last MPC meeting. The industry capital adequacy ratio had increased to 15 percent in June 2020, which meets the industry prudential benchmark as the non-performing loans ratio declined to 6.4 percent in June 2020 from 6.6 percent in April 2020 and 9.36 percent in the corresponding period of 2019. The MPC member added that total banking industry credit to the economy has continued to increase even during the months of the lockdown, standing at ₦18.9 trillion as of end-June 2020. Following the introduction of the Loan to Deposit Ratio policy, he said, total gross credit increased by ₦3.33 trillion between May 2019 and June 2020 as most of the increase in credit was extended to manufacturing, consumer credit, general commerce, ICT and agriculture. Fitch Ratings has said Nigeria stands out for punishing its banks at a time when most other countries are giving lenders extra leeway to fight the economic fallout as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The senior director for Europe, Middle East and Africa bank ratings at Fitch, Mahin Dissanayake, said in an interview that the CBN has been highly interventionist. Comparing the country to peers like South Africa and Kenya following the global trend of giving banks more room to lend, Nigeria hasn’t budged. Instead, it stuck with a cash reserve ratio that compels lenders to park 27.5% of their deposits with the central bank.
The Board of National Broadcasting Commission, Thursday, rejected the new broadcasting code recently announced by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed. The commission has described the new code as illegal and incapable of regulating broadcasting in Nigeria. The chairman of NBC board, Ika Aliyu Bilbis said the only code which the board and other stakeholders recognised as forming the operating policies and standards for the NBC was the 6th edition of the NB Code, which was adopted in 2019 in Kano. The NBC board said 55 institutions and stakeholders, including the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), the Independent Broadcast Association of Nigeria (IBAN), private media outfits, broadcasters, notable media intellectuals, communication experts, including Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka had vehemently rejected the new code in letters to the board. The NBC, also on Thursday, relied on the new code to fine the Nigeria Info 99.3FM radio station in Lagos, ₦5 million for airing views it determined as hate speech on one of its programmes, “Morning Cross Fire”, which was aired on August 10, 2020.
The head of the German company’s local unit Siemens AG Onyeche Tifase has said that the firm’s overhaul of Nigeria’s electricity grid is attracting interest from private companies seeking to invest in power production. Siemens entered a contract with the FG last year to rehabilitate and expand the country’s electricity system, with the first phase costing about 2 billion Euros. According to Tifase, chief executive officer of Siemens Nigeria Ltd, the company is using as a model its experience in Egypt, where it increased generation capacity by more than 40% in less than three years. She said the revamp in Nigeria will include upgrading dozens of power substations and building new ones, as well as installing new transformers and distribution lines. The upgrades are persuading sceptical investors to see opportunity in the country, Tifase added. In her words, “the firm’s ability to deliver all the automation of distribution, transmission and generation has boosted investors’ confidence, and oil and gas companies that had stepped back because of a lack of benefits are reconsidering,” Nigeria has more than 13,000 megawatts of installed electricity generation capacity but only 7,500 megawatts of that is available and less than 4,000 megawatts is dispatched to the grid each day. The partnership with Siemens will modernise the existing network before enlarging it until the country can produce and distribute 25,000 megawatts. The World Bank, which estimates that Nigeria loses about $28 billion or 2% of gross domestic product a year to power cuts, approved a $750 million loan in June to create a sustainable metering and commercial framework for running the grid. The deal agreed to last year requires Siemens to boost transmission capacity, to 25,000 megawatts by 2025, from 4,500 megawatts. That will help end incessant outages and ensure the inclusion of about a third of the population of more than 200 million people now excluded from the grid.