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Less Than 2% Of World’s COVID-19 Vaccines Administered In Africa

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The WHO AFRO says more efforts are needed to scale up COVID-19 vaccination in the African Region as many African countries have barely moved beyond the starting line.
According to it, less than two per cent of the world’s 690 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered to date globally have been in Africa with limited stocks and supply bottlenecks putting the vaccines out of reach of many people in the region.
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, Regional Director, World Health Organisation Regional Office for Africa (WHO AFRO), spoke during a virtual press conference on Thursday facilitated by APO Group.
Dr Abdelhakim Yahyane, Director of Population, Ministry of Health, Morocco, and Mr Mohamed Malick Fall, UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa were at the meeting.
Also present were Dr Salam Gueye, Director, Regional Emergency Preparedness and Response, WHO Regional Office for Africa, and Dr Richard Mihigo, Immunization and Vaccine Development Programme Coordinator, WHO Regional Office for Africa.
The meeting noted that most African countries received vaccines only five weeks ago and in small quantities.

According to it, 45 African countries have received vaccines, 43 of them have begun vaccinations and nearly 13 million of the 31.6 million doses delivered so far have been administered.
The pace of vaccine rollout is, however, not uniform, with 93 per cent of the doses given in 10 countries.
Vaccine rollout preparedness, including training of health workers, pre-listing priority groups and coordination helped some countries quickly reach a large proportion of the targeted high-risk population groups such as health workers.
The 10 countries that have vaccinated the most have used at least 65 per cent of their supplies.
Moeti said: “Although progress is being made, many African countries have barely moved beyond the starting line. Limited stocks and supply bottlenecks are putting COVID-19 vaccines out of reach of many people in this region.
“Fair access to vaccines must be a reality if we are to collectively make a dent on this pandemic.
“Africa is already playing COVID-19 vaccination catch-up, and the gap is widening.
“While we acknowledge the immense burden placed by the global demand for vaccines, inequity can only worsen scarcity,.
“More than a billion Africans remain on the margins of this historic march to overcome the pandemic,’’ she said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that according to WHO, through the COVAX Facility, 16.6 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, mainly AstraZeneca, have been delivered to African countries.
Once delivered, vaccine rollout in some countries was delayed by operational and financial hurdles or logistical difficulties such as reaching remote locations.
WHO is supporting countries to tackle the challenges by reinforcing planning and coordination, advocating more financial resources as well as setting up effective communications strategies to address vaccine hesitancy and misinformation.
The delays are not only affecting vaccine delivery to priority targets but expanding vaccinations to the rest of the population, some of whom have expressed eagerness to receive the doses.
WHO set a target to start vaccinating health workers and other priority groups in all countries in the first 100 days of 2021.

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Business

Banks’ CEOs Hold Emergency Meeting Over BDCs’ Forex Ban 

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Bank Chief Executive Officers on Thursday, held an emergency meeting on how to ensure compliance with the new forex directive of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

After the meeting, they spoke during a webinar organised to give an update on the banks’ preparedness to be the main channel of forex distribution, following the recent discontinuity of forex supply to the BDC operators by the CBN.

The executives assured the public that banks would make forex available to customers in accordance with the CBN’s directives.

After the last Monetary Policy Committee meeting, the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, had ordered all Deposit Money Banks to set up teller points at designated branches across the country to fulfil legitimate FX request for personal travel allowance, business travel allowance, tuition fees, medical payments and SMEs transactions, among others.

Speaking at the webinar, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe, said, “The banking industry as a whole was willing and ready to carry out this function. The banks have very strict compliance measures, in terms of verification and making sure that people who do apply are eligible.

“All Nigerian banks will be able to meet these requirements. If you look at all the branches nationwide, you will know that the banks have more than enough capacity to do this.”

He said if the banks saw any compliance issues, or people attempting to do things cunning, they would be reported to the CBN because the banks would ensure full compliance with the order.

The Group Chief Executive Officer, Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc, Mr Segun Agbaje, while speaking on the capacity of the banks to meet the customers demand, said, “It is not only the CBN that has the ability to fund the market; the banks also have the resources to meet the demand, and we have agreed collectively that it will start immediately.”

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Nigeria Needs $2.3tn To Address Infrastructure Deficit, Says FG

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Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, said that the country need $2.3tn to address its national integrated infrastructure masterplan.

He said this in Abuja on Thursday at a town hall meeting themed: ‘Nigeria’s infrastructure revolution: Road to a new future’, organised by Business Hallmark.

According to him, the 23-year masterplan (2020-2043) is for the development of infrastructure including roads, railway network and maritime sector.

The event was chaired by a former national chairman of the All Progressives Congress and former governor of Edo State, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.

Mustapha said, “Conscious of the economic disruption caused by 2016 recession and COVID-19 as well as challenges of previous reforms, the Federal Government revised the 23 year (2020-2043) national integrated infrastructure masterplan that identified critical enablers.

“For the 23-year period, $2.3tn will be required, translating to about $150bn annually and the private sector and other partners have to provide 56 per cent, while Federal Government and state governments will provide 44 per cent of the share of the investment.

“The Federal Government has made important strides towards providing much of our infrastructure and has, in recent years, conducted several infrastructural reforms.

“Specifically, we are extending and upgrading the nation’s railway network and introducing more locomotive couches. The port sector has been converted to landlocked model and terminal.

“Similarly, Public Private Partnership style infrastructure company with an initial seed capital of N1tn envisaging to grow over time to N6tn in assets and capital has been established and will soon commence operation.

“It will be one of the premier finance entities in Africa and will be wholly dedicated to Nigeria’s infrastructure development.

“The reduction in Nigeria’s infrastructural gap will also give the country a competitive advantage under the newly signed Africa Free Continental Area Trade Agreement.”

The Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, deplored the water crises in Nigeria saying no community in the country enjoyed water supply always.

He said, “In 1992, 30 per cent of the Nigerian population was enjoying pipe-borne water and as of 2015, it had dropped to seven per cent.

“In 2015, we were at 68 per cent national coverage for access to water and as of today, we are at 70 per cent and maybe by the time the result for 2021 comes out, we might be at 71 per cent to 72 per cent.

“As for water quality, 90 per cent of water consumed, including water from the boreholes, are contaminated and water is the basic necessity of life.”

Oyegun, in his contribution at the event, said six years going, the performance of the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had been mixed.

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NERC: Over 1m Electricity Consumers Have Received Prepaid Meters

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