FIVE THINGS YOU PROBABLY DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT IMO

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Imo is one of the states in the South East of Nigeria, located in the heart of Igboland. Its capital city is Owerri, the state’s largest city, and the state’s main economic stay is agriculture and commerce. It’s a bustling state with a lot to offer in culture, history and even business and investment opportunities. We share 5 things about Owerri you probably didn’t know.

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  1. It has a Zoological Garden

Owerri, the capital Imo State, is the home of the Nekede Botanical Garden, a well-tended area for displaying varieties of plants labelled with their botanical names. It’s a spectacular garden on a large landscape with ever-changing beauty. It’s one of the major tourist attractions of Imo state. Some hotels to lodge in while visiting include Rockview Hotels, Santiago Suite etc.

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2. It’s the Location of the Amadioha Shrine

Well, this is not exactly a place the majority might want to visit, but some might find it interesting to know Imo state is the location of the shrine of the famous deity, Amadioha. Amadioha is the Igbo traditional god of lightning and thunder. The Amadioha shrine is particularly situated in Ngo Okpala Local Government area of Imo State.

3. It has Its Very Own Signature Hill (Peculiar to the State Alone)

The rolling hills of Okigwe is located in the north-eastern part of Imo State. It possesses very attractive and appealing qualities that lists it as one of the major tourist attractions in Imo State and in Nigeria. The hill consists of a series of expanding hills with varying heights and ruggedness. It’s indeed a fascinating attraction and one of nature’s finest works. The hills provide a suitable site for camping and picnicking with friends and family, and it’s a great site to enjoy the endowments of nature.

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4. The State Was Named After the Imo River

Imo State came into existence in 1976, after the Nigerian Civil War. It was originally part of the now defunct East Central State created in 1967 by General Yakubu Gowon. The state was created at Ngwoma named after the Imo River. After the state creation, part of it was later split off in 1991 as Abia State and another part became Ebonyi State.

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5. It has One of the Biggest and Most Viable Oil Palm Plantations in West Africa

The Ada Palm Plantation Complex situated in Imo State, is believed to be the biggest and most viable oil palm plantations in West Africa. The palm plantation was established in 1974, occupies about 4,310 hectares of land, with a housing estate and was one of the nation’s major sources of foreign exchange before the discovery of Petroleum.

Norway seeks more market for fishery products in Nigeria

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The visiting Norwegian Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, Ronny Berg, on Sunday announced the readiness of more Norwegian fishery companies to export their products to Nigeria.

Mr. Berg told the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos that his delegation was in Nigeria to look at the new existing opportunities for Norwegian fishery products in the Nigerian market.

The Deputy Minister, who led a delegation of 30 Norwegian representatives to a seafood conference in Lagos, said that the companies were becoming more interested in the Nigerian market for their products.

“Norway has been exporting stockfish into the Nigerian market since the 1890s, and till date, Norwegian seafood represents an important source of protein to many Nigerians.

“But we have noted that in the last two or more years, there has not been adequate presence of our companies and their products in the Nigerian market.

“So, my delegation is visiting Nigeria to meet with the relevant Nigerian Government agencies, stakeholders in Nigeria’s fishery industry, as well as make presentations at the Seafood conference.

“We still see Nigeria as a major market for our fishery resources. My delegation is, therefore, in Nigeria, to showcase and interact with Nigerians on what Norway is ready to contribute to Nigeria’s current fishery needs,’’ he said.

Mr. Berg said the companies were willing to increase their exports to Nigeria, not only of stockfish, but also more of mackerel and salmon.

The Deputy Minister expressed optimism that his delegation’s visit would also afford them the opportunity to meet with the Nigerian Customs Service and visit the Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research, as well as other stakeholders.

Mr. Berg also said that there was a lot for the Nigerian fishery development industry to benefit from Norwegian companies and experts, in the course of cooperation and collaboration between both countries.

“We are really here in Nigeria to enter into new business cooperation relationships with our friends and counterparts in the Nigerian fishery industry on what we currently have to offer the Nigerian market in terms of fishery resources,’’ he added.

(NAN)

Six Things Nigerian Startups Are Worried About

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Startups are the backbone of any economy. They are established by young Nigerians who make efforts to secure capital and start something on their own. This is not a simple task. Ask any young person who owns a business, you will be taken aback by their experiences and tales of running one in Nigeria. These startups which can be likened to small scale businesses have provided employment and contributed their own quota via creative ideas, to either offer solutions to societal problems or a service.

Despite this, there are quite a number of challenges they are encountering and are quite worried about. We discuss some of these worries.

1. Power

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The issue of electricity can’t be over flogged. If power can be stroked off the list of things startups are worried about, it will have an overall impact on the startup. First of all, you will not factor in money for buying a generator or fuel into your budget. Such a money will be invested in the business or employ more hands. But power is epileptic. You will be gobsmacked if you see the amount even big organizations budget for huge generators and diesel let alone startups.

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2. Business registration

Kudos to the Nigerian government for launching the 60-day national plan for ease of doing business in the country. It is good but it is more than just launching a plan. The time, money and stress of registering just a startup are discouraging. This is why many startups just register their business name while they leave the other paperwork for later. Business registration should be automated so that it won’t take more than a week to register a startup. In fact, priority should be given to startups.

3. Capital

Thanks to venture capitalists and seed investors who are supporting these startups to keep them afloat. Obviously, this is usually after you have invested a certain amount of your capital in the business. Where do you get the capital from? It is usually from friends and family. Banks are likely to deny you loans. And of course, the Naira to dollar fluctuations is also an issue.

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4. Little tangible corporate or government support

Corporate organizations rarely support startups. They prefer to sponsor or support entertainment programmes or ideas. If you pitch your idea to them and it is not entertainment related, you are probably wasting your precious time. Corporate organizations should sponsor competitions, where individuals with startups ideas can compete and get, will get financial support to implement the idea. As for the government, they are trying but there is more to be done.

5. Taxation

There are different bodies that collect taxes in Nigeria. And they charge to pay all sorts of rates. Although some organisations fail to pay tax, it’s not their fault sometimes. The government needs to block these loopholes and harmonize the taxation process. Hence, startups will know that they are not double taxed.

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6. Lack of patronage from Nigerians

It is worrying that Nigerians don’t buy made in Nigeria goods. They prefer foreign to Nigeria made. Patronizing Nigerian startups doesn’t only means you are supporting them, it shows you recognize their efforts.

Coca-Cola products manufactured in Nigeria safe – FG

Coca-Cola products manufactured in Nigeria safe – FG

The Federal Government has reassured Nigerians that the Coca-Cola products manufactured in Nigeria were safe for consumption.

This is contained in a statement issued by Mrs Akinola Boade, the Director, Media and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Health, on Friday in Abuja.

She said the explanation followed a stakeholders meeting summoned by the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, to address related issues on the recent court judgment on the case filed by Fijabi Holdings against the Nigeria Bottling Company and NAFDAC.

Adewole explained that both benzoic acid and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) were ingredients approved by International Food Safety regulators and used in many food and beverage products around the world.

“Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) is the organisation established by Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and World Health Organisation (WHO) to set internationally recognised standards, codes of practice, guidelines relating to foods, food production and food safety.

“In the case of benzoic acid, the standard set by Codex was 600mg/kg until recently reviewed to 250mg/kg and adopted in 2016.

“With reference to the Codex standard and other relevant documents, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) in consultation with and relevant stakeholders elaborated the standard of benzoic acid in soft drinks to be at 250mg/kg based on the national climatic and storage conditions.

“This standard has been in existence since 1997 and revised in 2008, the levels of benzoic acid in Fanta (1 batch) and Sprite (2 batches) presented by the claimant in the court are 188.64mg/kg, 201.06mg/kg and 161.5mg/kg, respectively,” he said.

The minister stressed that the levels were in compliance with both the Codex and Nigeria Industrial Standards, stressing that the Coca-Cola products manufactured in Nigeria were safe for consumption in view of the following reasons:

“Risk assessment was conducted to ascertain maximum limits of food additives acceptable in foods. This takes into consideration the environmental, storage and distribution conditions as well as the shelf life of food products.

“NAFDAC and SON regularly monitor the manufacturing practices of food industries and conduct laboratory analysis to ascertain continuous compliance with required national standards.

“There was a routine inspection conducted at Nigeria Bottling Company by NAFDAC officers in December 2016, which was satisfactory.

“With reference to the Codex standards, each country or region is permitted to adapt a standard and limit based on country specific scientific evidence such as environmental, storage and distribution conditions,” he added.

Adewole noted that benzoic acid as a preservative prevents the growth of micro-organisms which thrive more at higher climatic temperatures like in Nigeria.

He said that due to the different environmental conditions obtainable in the UK, the standard for benzoic acid was set at a lower limit of 150mg/kg, while in Nigeria it was set at 250mg/kg even below that of Codex (as at time of production of that batch; Codex limit was 600mgkg).

Besides, the minister said that food products being imported into a country must comply with the relevant standards of the destination country.

“NAFDAC has processes in place to ensure products imported into the country are evaluated to ascertain compliance with required Nigeria Industrial Standards.’’

Adewole further said that the claimant did not obtain NAFDAC certification before export; otherwise, he would have been advised on the required standard of the destination country.

He therefore advised Nigerians to take medicines with potable water as this would help to prevent unexpected drug-food interactions.

He added that all bottling companies are encouraged to insert advisory warnings on all products as necessary. (NAN)

Trade Minister: How Nigeria can kick oil habit and become a global player

Falling oil prices have plunged Nigeria into sustained recession and a foreign currency crisis.

Falling oil prices have plunged Nigeria into sustained recession and a foreign currency crisis.

“Never waste a good crisis” is a motto for Dr. Okechukwu “Okey” Enelamah, the Nigerian minister of industry, trade and investment.

Right now, he has plenty to work with.

One of the largest economies in Africa is shrinking. Collapsing oil revenue has plunged Nigeria into a full-year recession for the first time since 1991, and caused a damaging foreign currency shortage.
Storm clouds are gathering over crucial trade and development relationships with Britain and the US, as the former contemplates an uncertain future outside the European Union, and the latter signals a shift to “America First” protectionism under President Donald Trump.
Enelamah, an experienced private sector banker, only entered government in November 2015. But the new minister believes he can chart a course through the turbulent waters, and discussed his plans with CNN in London.
Dr. Okechukwu "Okey" Enelamah, the Nigerian minister of industry, trade and investment.

Dr Okechukwu “Okey” Enelamah is the Nigerian Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment

Britain and the Commonwealth

Enelamah was in London for the inaugural Commonwealth Trade Minister’s Meeting, a gathering of officials from the former British colonies that make up the Commonwealth.
The host nation is keen to forge new trade alliances as it retreats from Europe. The 52 Commonwealth states — representing a combined population of more than two billion people – offer an attractive alternative.
Critics have attacked the event as an exercise in colonial nostalgia, branding it “Empire 2.0.
But Enelamah is satisfied that Britain is not seeking a new era of exploitation, and sees opportunities for Nigeria in deeper partnership with the UK.
“My experience so far with Britain and (Trade Secretary) Dr. Liam Fox has been very equal and collaborative — I don’t sense an imperial mindset,” he says. “Any agreement would have to be a 21st century agreement, accounting for where countries are today, not where they were 100 years ago.”
Enelamah hopes Britain will support advanced industrialization in Nigeria, so the country can move further up the manufacturing value chain and away from relying on the export of raw materials – predominantly oil. He also believes British expertise can improve quality control for Nigerian exports, which would improve access to markets.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”><a href=”https://twitter.com/TradeInvestNG”>@TradeInvestNG</a&gt; Minister, Dr. Enelamah and Trade Ministers from Commonwealth member states after the Commonwealth Trade Ministers Meeting <a href=”https://t.co/pcmqbeChOx”>pic.twitter.com/pcmqbeChOx</a></p>&mdash; FMITI Nigeria (@TradeInvestNG) <a href=”https://twitter.com/TradeInvestNG/status/841652849436184576″>March 14, 2017</a></blockquote>
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Trump and the US

The minister is warier about relations with the US. He has followed the progress of the new administration with some concern, particularly as Nigerian nationals were denied entry to the US.
“We hope this is resolved in a responsible way or there will be negative effects,” he says.
But Enelamah points to a reassuring statement from the US embassy in Nigeria, and a friendly call between President Trump and Nigerian Premier Muhammadu Buhari, as cause for optimism.
“We both understand and acknowledge the strategic importance of our countries to each other,” he says. “We intend to do more not less with the US.”
At a time of growing instability, the minister emphasizes the value of cultivating a wide range of alliances. Should the US retreat from commitments such as a major investment in the energy sector, Nigeria could lean more heavily on its burgeoning relationship with China, which underpins much of the state’s infrastructure development.
The Nigerian government is following the new US adminstration's immigration policy with some concern.

Closer union

Nigeria’s most important partners could yet be on its doorstep. Intra-African trade accounts for just 15% of the continent’s total trade, according to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, whereas the figure for Europe and North America is over 60%.
“It’s not where it needs to be,” admits Enelamah. “We believe there is a lot of scope and opportunity to do more in Africa.”
Nigeria recently signed the Trade Facilitation Agreement, reducing barriers to international commerce, and is pushing for a free trade agreement between all 54 African states.
The African Union mandated trade ministers to create a framework deal by 2017. Several rounds of negotiation have been completed. Enelamah is confident the historic accord can be reached, and believes it will deliver political as well as economic rewards.
“We want to optimize relations among us and trade is a major force for optimizing relations between nations,” he says.

After oil

As Nigeria pursues international trade and partnerships, there is an urgent need to move beyond its longstanding reliance on oil, which still accounts for the vast majority of export revenue.
Enelamah believes the oil price crash could be a blessing in disguise for Nigeria.
“Necessity is the mother of invention,” he says. “Given the very negative consequences of the drop in oil and commodity prices…we must make good on our commitment to diversify the economy.”
To fulfill this ambition, the government recently launched its “Economic recovery and growth plan,” which aims to deliver 7% annual growth and 15 million new jobs by 2020.
The plan includes strategies to develop manufacturing in the food and agriculture sector, new energy projects, and advanced industrialization with a focus on small and medium-sized enterprizes (SMEs).
“It’s about going back to basics, to where we have a comparative or natural advantage,” says Enelamah. “Nigeria is in the right place for agriculture and it is natural to continue investment into the industrial agriculture value chain.”
High yield offshoots of oil are also a focus, such as fertilizers and petrochemicals, as well as textiles including cotton.
Another priority is to improve the business climate and facilitate economic activity. Enelamah’s ministry is overseeing the creation of Special Economic Zones with new incentives for business, and claims to have secured $1 billion investment from China.
Nigeria's recovery plan involves investment in industrial agriculture.

Currency crisis

For a sustainable recovery, Nigeria must resolve its foreign exchange crisis. The high cost of Nigerian currency and falling oil prices have deterred foreign investment, and reserves are severely depleted.
Economists are calling for a devaluation of the Naira, which the government has so far resisted, and Enelamah does not see that policy changing.
“If we create the right conditions foreign investors will come back in a big way,” he says, pointing to healthy returns on diaspora remittances and Eurobond sales. “People are interested in Nigeria, and the infrastructure projects we have can bring in investment. We must implement policies to create market confidence.”
The minister does acknowledge mistakes. In 2016, Nigeria’s Central Bank attempted to boost the flagging Naira through import controls on items including medicine, furniture and foodstuffs. Enelamah accepts this has created problems for Nigerian businesses and undermined prospects for a manufacturing revival.
“Some policies we passed affected manufacturers in terms of their raw materials and we are correcting those now,” he says. “We want to discourage dumping and bad practices that happened in the past. But we need to do it in a way that does not hurt local manufacturing.”