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Google Earmarks $3m Grants to Support Businesses across Africa

Google has announced new initiatives to support African businesses with grants, Nigeria inclusive.

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Google Nigeria Country Director, Juliet Ehimuan, who announced the initiatives during the virtual Google Economic Recovery Roundtable, held, recently, said to provide assistance to vulnerable populations, Google.org has set aside $3 million in grants to nonprofits that support education, entrepreneurship and women empowerment across Africa.

According to her, $500,000 of the amount would go towards a grant to the Praekelt Foundation, a software development non-profit that builds open-source, scalable mobile technologies and solutions to improve the health and wellbeing of underprivileged people, in order to help train micro and small businesses in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.

“In an effort to help job seekers acquire new skills while they look for opportunities, Google is providing underserved communities and job seekers with $750,000 in Information Technology (IT) support scholarships through Google.org across Africa. Job seekers can also access the Grow with Google training portal for help in growing their careers or businesses at their own pace and through flexible and personalised training courses.

“For educational institutions and teachers, Google is working with partners across Africa, through Google for Education, to help deploy its suite of education products in schools and help 500,000 students continue learning. To help teachers keep teaching, Google aims to give 25,000 educators access to free online training sessions and resources, such as Teach From Anywhere.

Google is also giving a grant of $250,000 to organisations in Nigeria, which are developing programs and tools to boost literacy for children in low-income schools in the country,” Ehimuan said.

She further explained Google would set up a digital hub providing free tools and resources to businesses and individuals. Through the hub, 500,000 small businesses will receive help getting online or improving their digital presence through Google My Business (GMB) which helps them connect with millions of users every month.

“Small businesses have been hardest hit during this COVID-19 period. Many of them have had to figure out quickly how to pivot their operations to a ‘digital-first’ approach. Yet, there remains a gap between those who can access these online opportunities and those who can’t. That’s the gap we want to bridge with these initiatives,” Ehimuan said.

She added that the tech company’s initiatives would address the need for funding, training and services across identified sectors, including support for 500,000 SMBs and 25,000 teachers.

“This support includes a partnership with the Nigerian Ministry of Youth and Sports Development. The partnership will provide support for youth-owned SMBs. It will also provide support for jobseekers in Nigeria to help them acquire marketable skills through certification and training programs, and involve supporting programs that enable and improve access to quality education across the region,” Ehimuan said.

The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, who was pleased with the initiatives, said the partnership between Google and the Ministry of Youth and Social Development, would motivate Nigerian youths to become more innovative to explore their world of technology.

According to the Minister, Google partnership would enhance Google’s execution plans towards achieving a renewed commitment to support small businesses and individuals in Nigeria to recover, following negative slowdowns resulting from COVID-19.

“We are focused on creating an enabling environment that promotes youth and economic development in Nigeria. This partnership with Google in Nigeria is critical at this period and we look forward to seeing the positive impact it will have on SMBs’ recovery, enhancing the skills of jobseekers and supporting the education sector,” Dare said.

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Poultry Association warns of 10% job losses

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The Lagos Chapter of the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) has warned that Nigeria may likely witness 10% job losses if the immediate problems facing the sector including the rising cost of feeds are not addressed by the federal government.

This was disclosed by PAN’s Lagos chapter Chairman, Mr Godwin Egbebe, in Lagos on Thursday, according to the News Agency of Nigeria.

What the Association is saying about Poultry feed

“If the growing price of poultry feed and a host of other challenges in the sector continue, 10% of Nigerians may lose their jobs as poultry farmers continue to shut down across the country.

The situation on ground is that the poultry sector is actually at risk because of the growing prices of poultry feed.

The situation has made a lot of poultry farmers to close shop because of the problems in the sector.

Mr Egegbe added that some farmers have called it quits and have started advertising to sell their cages off because they want to close their businesses, he urged the FG to take the problems in the poultry sector very serious.

“It is like they are not taking us serious the way they take the problems in the cattle sector,” he said.

“The kind of employment that the poultry sector gives to Nigeria, the cattle sector cannot give such but the government is not taking the poultry sector serious.

We want the government to do all they can to intervene in the sector so that these poultry farms do not become grounded.

This is because if they do, about 10% of the population will lose their jobs.

He stated that prices cannot keep rising as customers were barely managing to buy poultry products because of the current high prices leading to an egg glut in the market.

What you should know

In a bid to support poultry farmers in Nigeria, Our source reported last month that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), moved to crash the price of maize as it has approved the release of 50,000 metric tonnes of maize to 12 major producers, from the strategic maize reserve (SMR) under its Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).

The apex bank said that the release was to enable moderation and price control in the Nigerian market adding that the action, the third of such releases to the companies, was intended to check activities of middlemen that cause hoarding and artificial scarcity.

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Nigeria facing acute jobless crises – World Bank

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The World Bank has stated that Nigeria is facing an acute job crisis that puts pressure on irregular migration for Nigerians, who are seeking to leave the country. 

The World Bank disclosed this in its report titled, ‘Of Roads Less Travelled: Assessing the Potential for Migration to Provide Overseas Jobs for Nigeria’s Youth’, published on its website this week.  

The report revealed that between 2014 and 2020, Nigeria’s working-age population increased from 102 million to 122 million, growing at an average rate of approximately 3% per year.

What the World Bank is saying

The World Bank stated in the report, “Nigeria is facing one of the most acute jobless crises in recent times. Between 2014 and 2020, Nigeria’s working age population grew from 102 million to 122 million, growing at an average rate of approximately 3 per cent per year.

Similarly, Nigeria’s active labour force population, i.e., those willing and able to work among the working age population, grew from 73 million in 2014 to 90 million in 2018, adding 17.5 million new entrants to Nigeria’s active labour force.

Since 2018, however, the active labour force population has dramatically decreased to around 70 million—lower than the level in 2014—while the number of Nigerians who are in the working-age population but not active in the labour force has increased from 29 million to 52 million between 2014 and 2020.” 

The Washington-based institution added that the expanding working age with scarce employment opportunities is creating high rates of unemployment, particularly for Nigeria’s youth. It also stated that there was a fivefold increase in the unemployment rate between 2010 and 2020, from 6.4% in 2010 to 33.3% in 2020. 

The Bretton wood institution also added that the poor combination of the rising unemployment, booming demographics, and unfulfilled aspirations is increasing the pressure on young Nigerians to migrate in search of gainful employment overseas.

“Unemployment is considered to be a key driver of migration. The number of first-time asylum seekers from Sub-Saharan Africa and Nigeria to Europe peaked in 2016, at the height of the European migration crisis, before subsiding in late-2017 (Figure ES.3). Nigerians represented the largest group of migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa to arrive in Europe in 2016 and 2017. Nearly 40,000 Nigerians arrived in Italy in 2016 with over 90 percent arriving via sea routes,” it said.

The report urged that by expanding legal pathways for migration and implementing supporting measures to reap dividends from current migrants in the diaspora, Nigeria can further benefit from international migration. 

“Nigeria’s institutions are well-placed to promote managed migration approaches that help create opportunities for prospective Nigerian jobseekers to find employment internationally and can be supported to help design schemes that increases the returns to human capital investments for Nigerian youth,” it said.

“One consequence of inaction to the rising migratory pressure has been the increase in irregular migration to Europe which has resulted in Nigerian migrants facing not only higher economic costs but also physical and psychological abuse along the transit corridors in Niger and Libya,” it warned. 

The Bank urged that reducing the cost of sending remittances to Nigerian households provides more resources for them to invest in their households and in the economy, citing that the cost of sending international remittances to Nigeria from Africa, Europe, and North America is well above the SDG 17.3 target of 3 percent. 

“Reducing the cost of sending remittances to Nigeria directly benefits Nigerian households as it provides more resources for them to invest in their households and in the economy,” it stated.

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Dangote cement’s $1 billion new factory in Edo state to start production

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Africa’s leading cement manufacturer, Dangote Cement Plc, has said that its 6 million metric tonnes per annum factory in Edo State, with an estimated cost of $1 billion is completed and set for commissioning.

The new factory is part of efforts by Dangote Cement to boost cement production in the state and across the country.

The disclosure is contained in a statement issued by Dangote Cement, saying that the plant which is sitting on 1,000-hectare land, aligns with the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration’s plan to diversify the state’s economy and attract investment into its productive sector.

The Director, Stakeholder Management at Dangote Cement Plc, revealed that the local community made an input in the construction of the plant as engineers, technicians and other members of the community worked on it till completion.

He was quoted as saying, “In Nigeria, we have a population of over 200 million people. The per capita consumption of cement in Nigeria is low. We still need to do more to make the cement get to the poorest of the poor.”

The statement by the company pointed out that the plant was built by Sinoma International Engineering Company with 1,500 local workers collaborating with the Chinese engineers on the project.

It also added that the plant is expected to employ at least 6,000 workers when it commences operations.

What you should know

The Dangote Group on April 10, 2016, commenced the construction of the $1 billion cement factory at Okpella Edo State to expand its cement production in Nigeria.

The completion of the 6 million metric tonnes per annum Okpella plant and the 6 million metric tonnes per annum at Itori Ogun state is expected to increase the company’s total local production capacity to 41.25 million metric tonnes per annum.

Meanwhile, earlier in July, Dangote Cement Plc moved to boost the distribution of the company’s products across the country as it announced the acquisition of 2,000 additional vehicles.

The new vehicles which include trucks, trailers and tippers were purchased at a cost of $150 million.

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