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Wealth inequalities reaching extreme levels in West Africa -Oxfam report

The report said the vast majority of West Africans were “denied the most essential elements of a dignified life

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Wealth inequalities reaching extreme levels in West Africa -Oxfam report
The ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID), Lome, Togo. Photo credit: www.bidc-ebid.org

West Africa suffers the most inequalities on the continent but many governments prefer to ignore problems despite economic growth, a report by Oxfam and Development Finance International said on Tuesday. 

According to the “West Africa Inequality Crisis” report, six of the ten fastest-growing economies in Africa were in West Africa, with Ivory Coast, Ghana and Senegal among the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies.

“In most countries, the benefits of this unprecedented economic growth have gone to a tiny few,” the report said.

“Inequality has reached extreme levels in the region, and today, the wealthiest 1 per cent of West Africans own more than everyone else in the region combined.”

The report said the vast majority of West Africans were “denied the most essential elements of a dignified life, such as quality education, healthcare and decent jobs”.

In Nigeria, for example, the wealth of the five richest Nigerian men combined stands at $29.9 billion – more than the country’s entire budget in 2017, the report said.

Rather than tackle inequality, some of the region’s governments were underfunding public services, such as health and education, and failing to tackle corruption, Oxfam’s regional director, Adama Coulibaly said.

The report called on governments to do more to promote progressive taxation, boost social spending, strengthen labour market protection, invest in agriculture and strengthen land rights for smallholders.

For example, it said the region loses an estimated $9.6 billion annually because of corporate tax incentives offered by governments to attract investors. 

But not all governments were tackling inequality the same way. Cape Verde, Mauritania, and Senegal were among the most committed to reducing inequalities, it said, while Nigeria, Niger and Sierra Leone were among the least.

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US-African trade lagging despite free access, forum hears in Ivory Coast

Trade quadrupled in value from 2002 to 2008, a year when it reached $100 billion, but fell back in 2017

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the signing ceremony of the Compact Millenium challenge corporation (MCC) between the Ivorian government and the MCC

Trade between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa is in the doldrums despite a 2000 US law designed to boost access to the American market, a conference in Ivory Coast has been told. The African Growth and Opportunity Act, which in 2015 was extended to 2025, provides tariff-free access on 6,500 products to 39 countries, ranging from oil and agricultural goods to textiles, farm and handicrafts.

Trade quadrupled in value from 2002 to 2008, a year when it reached $100 billion, but fell back in 2017 to just $39 billion, according to figures compiled by the US agency USAID. The surplus is widely in Africa’s favour, but most exports to the US are in oil or petroleum-based products, not the industrialised goods that provide a value-added boost to local economies.

“I do not think that AGOA has been the game-changer for many countries on the continent that we hoped it would be,” Constance Hamilton, assistant US trade representative for Africa, told the 18th AGOA Forum, ending in the Ivory Coast’s economic capital Abidjan on Tuesday.

“AGOA has not led to the trade diversification for which we originally hoped,” she said in remarks on Monday. “Petroleum products continued to account for the largest portion of AGOA imports, with a 67 per cent share,” Hamilton said. 

“And the volume of AGOA trade remains modest. In the AGOA clothing sector, for example, we get about $1 billion per year from Africa,” he said, adding that this amounted to just one per cent of all US clothing imports.

The United States is Africa’s third-biggest trade partner after the European Union and China. But Africa attracts only about one per cent of all US foreign investment. Deputy US Trade Representative Curtis Mahoney said Washington had drawn up a “variety of new initiatives” to “lay the groundwork for an even closer trade and investment partnership”.

“We will combine the promise of the AfCFTA with these new US initiatives and help maximize the potential of US-Africa trade,” he said. The AfCFTA – the African Continental Free Trade Area – is a scheme for demolishing trade barriers among the 55-member African Union.

The long-negotiated agreement was ceremonially launched at a summit in July, but will need a year to become operational, the AU says.

According to the conclusions of a pre-forum meeting of ministers ahead of the Abidjan conference, only 18 out of 39 countries have set down a national strategy for exploiting the benefits of the AGOA.

Many African companies either do not know of the advantages that are on offer, or they do not know how to use them, the ministers found.

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Nigeria plans crude oil exports contract renewal with Indonesia

Nigeria is Africa’s biggest crude producer and the oil industry is the mainstay of the continent’s biggest economy

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Nigeria plans crude oil exports contract renewal with Indonesia

Nigeria’s state oil firm, NNPC plans to renew its contract for crude sales with Indonesia which expired last year, part of moves to boost exports, it said on Tuesday.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said it was interested in working with Indonesia’s national oil company Pertamina to improve its volume of crude exports, NNPC’s new group managing director Mele Kyari told Indonesia’s ambassador.

The corporation said in a statement that the partnership with Pertamina could open up opportunities for Nigeria’s crude oil in the face of unpredictable global markets.

READ: Nigeria initiates first phase of NNPC Port Harcourt refinery repairs

It said Indonesia imported crude oil worth $2.5 billion from Nigeria last year, the statement said, adding that the contract ended in December.

President Muhammadu Buhari in June appointed Kyari, a geologist, to head NNPC. Kyari is also Nigeria’s representative at the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. 

Nigeria is Africa’s biggest crude producer and the oil industry is the mainstay of the continent’s biggest economy. Crude sales provide around 90 per cent of Nigeria’s foreign exchange – and a slump in oil prices in 2014 pushed the economy into a recession in 2016.

READ: 132 firms bid for NNPC oil swaps

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Coscharis Group, Renault form partnership in Nigeria

Logans and Dusters will be assembled in the existing Coscharis Assembly facility in Lagos

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Coscharis & Renault form partnership

French carmaker, Renault and Nigerian conglomerate, Coscharis Group have formed a partnership to assemble and distribute Renault vehicles in Nigeria, the companies have announced. 

The Coscharis Group plant will start assembling Renault Logan and Renault Duster vehicles and will distribute the cars through their sales network throughout Nigeria from October. 

Logans and Dusters will be assembled in the existing Coscharis Assembly facility in Lagos, where it already puts together the Ford Ranger at the SKD plant, while Renault’s Kwid and Oroch vehicles will be imported from Brazil.

“With a population of over 200 million, Nigeria is a strategic African country where Groupe Renault will extend its footprint,” said Fabrice Cambolive, senior vice president and chairman of Africa, Middle East and India Pacific region of Renault.

Renault has an 18% market share on the African Continent and sold more than 216,000 vehicles in 2018. The most important countries in sales volume are currently Morocco, Algeria, South Africa and Egypt.

Coscharis Group, established in 1977, is a wholly-owned Nigerian conglomerate with interests in various sectors, which include automobiles, information and communications technology, logistics, agriculture, food & beverages, property and health, among others.

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