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Labour pay rise deal sealed weeks before Nigeria’s presidential election

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The Nigerian government has  recommended a fifty percent rise in the minimum wage of public sector workers, weeks before a crucial presidential election where the cost of living has become a major campaign item. 

Labour Minister, Chris Ngige said in Abuja that the government would send a bill to parliament proposing an increase in the minimum monthly salary to 27,000 naira from 18,000 now, as approved by the powerful National Council of States, a constitutional body made up of President Muhammadu Buhari’s top officials, regional governors, heads of the National Assembly and past presidents. 

Africa’s top oil producer and most populous nation relies on crude sales for around two-thirds of government revenue, but lower prices pushed it into recession in 2016.

Though it emerged from the downturn in early 2017, growth remains weak and inflation hit a seven-month high of 11.44 percent in December.

Unions went on strike last year over the minimum wage, initially demanding a rise to 50,000 naira a month.

President Buhari, whose bid for re-election on February 16 faces a strong challenge from main opposition candidate Atiku Abubakar, said in January he would increase the minimum wage but had not specified by how much.

“The National Council of State has approved a minimum wage of 27,000 monthly. A bill to this effect is to be forwarded to the National Assembly,” Ngige told reporters in Abuja, a Reuters report stated. 

Some government workers could receive a higher salary of 30,000 naira a month, the labour minister added.

He did not say when the bill would be sent to lawmakers.

Ngige announced the bill shortly before the central bank’s monetary policy committee decided to hold its benchmark interest rate at 14 percent.

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International partners set to boost northern Nigeria’s leather industry

The partners will develop a leather tannery aimed at improving the production capacity of indigenous entity, Sokoto Shoe

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International partners set to boost northern Nigeria’s leather industry

In a bid to revitalise the region’s traditional leather sector, Sokoto state, in northern Nigeria has attracted international partnership towards the development of a leather tannery aimed at improving the production capacity of indigenous entity, Sokoto Shoe.

The latest firms to seek business opportunities are UK-based Pan African Enterprises and Asia-based Simple Factory Group, a footwear producer- a marriage of convenience credited to the state government’s Sokoto Investment Company Limited.

With a target of 2000 shoes per day, the output increase and further boost in quality could position Sokoto Shoe as a leading player in the leather goods industry increasing the continent’s export potential.

Nigeria’s leather industry is a network of production clusters with a concentration in a number of its cities such as Kano, Aba, Lagos, Sokoto and Onitsha. Leather produced from these centres are fashioned into footwear, bags, belts, and houseware by local workers.

While Nigeria exports a lot of its finished products, (estimates place its annual revenue at $100 million), the country imports about 5 times this value, leading local producers to compete with foreign manufacturers.

The country’s capacity to take up a large share of the global leather industry is, however, immense with its huge cattle population and age-long leather working tradition.

The partnership inches closer to accessing manufacturing and supply-chain advantages in the footwear sector to develop northern Nigeria’s productive capacity. Operations are expected to begin next year.

PAE’s chief executive, Dawn Spetale says “Simple is a natural partner for us to develop our vision in Nigeria with Sokoto Shoe”

“Teaming up with such a well-established producer allows us to leverage its networks, experience and marketing know-how from the past 30 years.

We’re excited that some of our staff will get training in Asia through Simple, as this will greatly enhance our production capacity and quality control from the outset,” Spetale adds.

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World’s biggest marine diamond mining vessel to be financed by African banks

Nedbank Namibia, RMB Namibia, Standard Bank, ABSA and Bank Windhoek agreed to provide 80% of the funding for the ship

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African banks to finance World’s biggest marine diamond mining vessel
(File photo)

Five African commercial banks have partnered in a $375 million financing deal to build a new diamond mining vessel for a subsidiary of Anglo American’s diamond unit, De Beers. 

Nedbank Namibia, RMB Namibia, Standard Bank, ABSA and Bank Windhoek agreed to provide 80% of the funding for the ship, which will be the world’s largest of its type. 

Debmarine Namibia – a 50-50 joint venture company between De Beers and the government of Namibia – will provide the balance of $94 million. 

The ship, to be known as the AMV3, will be the seventh in the Debmarine Namibia joint venture’s fleet, which mines high-quality diamonds from the ocean floor using hi-tech surveying equipment. 

The AMV3 has the capacity to add 500,000 carats of annual production from 2022, and is expected to contribute 2 billion Namibian dollars ($137.64 million) a year in taxes and royalties to the Namibian treasury in its first five years of production.

“The highest quality diamonds in the world are found in our ocean,” Debmarine Namibia Chief Executive Otto Shikongo said in a statement. 

“With this investment, we will be able to optimize new technology to find and recover diamonds more efficiently and meet growing consumer demand”.

Nedbank Namibia, which facilitated the arrangement, will contribute 40% of the financing and will also provide currency hedging for the deal, according to Karl-Stefan Altmann, an executive at Nedbank Corporate and Investment Banking and Treasury.

Mining, of which uranium and diamonds are a major part, contributed 14% of Namibia’s gross domestic product in 2018, according to the latest annual report of Namibia’s Chamber of Mines. 

Diamonds also accounted for 14% of Anglo American’s core profit in 2018.

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Zimbabwe’s inflation soars, stocks hit record high

Stocks are rising because local investors are desperate to hedge against inflation

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Zimbabwe's inflation soars, stocks hit record high | News Central TV
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Zimbabwe’s stock market has hit a record high, for all the wrong reasons as the country’s Industrial Index rose 5.6 per cent on Monday to extend its gain this quarter to 80 per cent.

Stocks are rising because local investors are desperate to hedge against inflation, which accelerated to 98 per cent in May. Prices are rocketing amid a scarcity of foreign exchange, which is causing shortages of fuel, medicine, and other imported goods.

In Zimbabwe, investors’ fears about inflation are heightened by a plunging currency.

The RTGS$, which the government de-linked from the U.S. dollar in February, has sunk about 57 per cent since March on the black market.

On the streets of Harare, the capital, it trades at 9.7 against the greenback. That compares with the central bank’s official and much stronger rate of 6.08.

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