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Nigerian Economy’ll Be 21% Digital By 2021, FG Boasts

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The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami, has forecasted that the Nigerian economy would be 21 per cent digital by 2021.
The minister, while speaking at the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) 2020 Graduates’ Induction and Prize Award’s Day, yesterday, said the Covid-19 pandemic has shown the importance of the digitalisation in the growth of any country’s economy.
Pantami noted that there has never been a more urgent time to fast track digital transformation in Nigeria, saying that the digital economy drive was aimed at rapidly enhancing digital identification, broadband penetration, how bank accounts are run, etc.
While stressing the need for professionals to develop more innovative digital tools and competencies, the minister said activities in the banking, customs, and ports sectors, including revenue collections are being digitalised.
He further noted that broadband penetration at the end of July rose to over 43 per cent an almost 10 per cent increase in less than a year.
The minister said compared to the usual two per cent penetration witnessed in the years before, this is a remarkable step in the digital direction.
Pantami went on to disclose that the ministry was working to ensure that indigenous digital solution providers and entrepreneurs get preference, saying that the current administration was committed to consuming what it produces.
“The latest Quarter Two (Q2) 2020 report recently released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), showed that the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector contributed about to 17.83 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), from 13.85 per cent in the same period of 2019.
“Yet, the digital economy was not included in the disclosed figure. If the digital economy was added, it would have risen well above 45 per cent to GDP,” Pantami added.
Also speaking, the President and Chairman of Council, CIBN, Bayo Olugbemi, in his speech, charged professionals to take advantage of the digital economy to shape the future of the banking industry.
He said it was in recognition of the important role the banking and finance industry plays in the growth and development of the economy that the Institute decided to x-ray the topic, “Digital Economy: The Role of Professional Bankers.”
According to him, Covid-19 accelerated the pace of the digital revolution, making it imperative for Nigeria to rethink its approach to the digital economy, which has become the new normal.
He maintained that technology has caused significant disruption in the financial sector, noting that the implication of the revolution to the institution was that professional bankers need to acquire new skills, to be able to combine digital awareness with great people skills.
His words: “I believe that highly qualified, knowledgeable, skilled, dedicated, customer-focused banking professionals will shape the future of banking, as much as the new technologies that are transforming the financial-services industry will.”
Also, Olugbemi disclosed that about 1,864 candidates were admitted into the various categories of membership of the Institute, with 899 admitted into the ACIB, 41 into Chartered Banker MBA, 22 into MSc/ACIB, and 902 into Microfinance Certification programmes, cutting across countries like Nigeria, The Gambia, Ghana, Rwanda, and Sierra-Leone.

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More Youths Engage In Artisanal Refining

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As unemployment bites harder amidst rising cost of living, more youths in rural communities in Rivers State are now going into artisanal refining business to earn a living.
The Tide reliably gathered that some youths residing in Port Harcourt City were gradually moving to rural communities for bunkering business otherwise known as ‘kpo-fire’ 
Narrating his experience to The Tide, Mr Godwin Ibeneme who resides in Rumuekini in Akpor, said he was introduced into the kpor-fire business by his father.
Ibeneme, who hails from Ibaa/ Obelle area of Emohua Local Government Area, said his father compelled him to join other youths who were thriving in the business in the community.
“My father came to my house here in Rumuekini, and told me to come to the village, that other young men are making it through kpo-fire’ bunkering since I have lost my job.
“ I didn’t waste time to give it a trial, because I had really looked for what to do, since I lost my job at a fast-food company. Since then, I can tell you that I have been taking care of myself, unlike before when everything looked hopeless”, he explained.
The Tide also learnt that the kpo-fire’ business was currently thriving in Isiokpo axis of Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
A resident of the community who pleaded anonymity, told The Tide that there was a high level of discrimination in the business.
According to him, he decided to engage himself at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, to hustle for his daily bread, instead of staying idle.
The Tide recalls that the Federal Government had promised to build modular refineries in the Niger Delta region since 2019 as an alternative to illegal oil bunkering in the region as well as to create employment for the youth. 
The Tide also reports that three years after the promise was made, nothing has been done in that regard.

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Oyigbo Cassava Plant, Legacy Project   -Akawor

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The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, Amb. Desmond Akawor, says the cassava plant project, being executed by the Rivers State Government in Oyigbo is a legacy project that will generate huge employment for Rivers people.
He said the project was well thought out and would stand the test of time to tackle unemployment as well as ensure food availability in the state.
Akawor made the remarks during an interaction with journalists at the weekend in Port Harcourt.
According to him, the cassava plant which was supposed to be executed by the previous administrations, was initially planned to be a joint venture between the state government and some organisations, but that the other partners did not pay their counterpart funding.
“The steps taken by the Wike-led administration to bring this project to life without the counterpart funding is commendable, because of the huge economic benefits it will give to the state.
“Many people have also been employed at the construction sites of flyovers being executed by Julius Berger. Eighty percent of those working there are indigenes, while the company provides the expatriates”, he said.
The  PDP chairman also hinted on the plans of the state government to privatise the Buguma fish farm and banana farm, among others, so as to make them more viable.
He said that the state government had not abandoned the projects initiated by the previous administration, but was thinking on what to do with them. 
Akawor maintained that the employment of 5,000 persons into the civil service was still ongoing, saying the government is only taking time to ensure that indigenes of the state are employed.

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PH Airport Resumes Skeletal International Flight Operations

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Skeletal flight operations have resumed at the international wing of the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
This follows the lifting of the curfew that was imposed in the state by the Rivers State Government to check cases of insecurity in the state.
The Tide’s checks show that many of the airlines that operate international flights are yet to resume flight operations, even though the coast is clear for them to resume operations.
The Cronaux Airline, it was gathered, is the only airline at the moment that has fully resumed international flight.
Other airlines that operate at the international wing, like the Lufthansa Airline, Turkish Airline, and Ethiopian Airline are yet to resume operations. 
The Acting Head of Corporate Affairs, FAAN, Kunle Akinbode, confirmed the resumption of international flight operations at the airport, last Friday, saying the international wing is now open for international airlines to operate.
He explained that the curfew that was imposed in the state delayed the resumption of international flights operations, even when issues of Covid-19 standard protocols had been addressed.
“Now that the curfew is over and the international wing is open for flight operations, it is left for each of the airlines to work out its own schedule for operations.
“It will not be the duty of the airport management to sort things out for them and know when to resume. I know that some have started. Lufthansa has said they will resume next month, August”, Akinbode said.
The Tide reports that the international wing of the Port Harcourt Airport had been shut since the Covid-19 lockdown, and did not reopen when other international airports in Lagos, Abuja and Kano among others reopened for international operations.

Stories by Corlins Walter

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