NEPZA boss commends FG on Segun Awolowo’s appointment

By Favour Nnabugwu





The Managing Director of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA),  Prof. Adesoji Adesugba has commended the appointment of Mr Olusegun Awolowo as Secretary, of National Action Committee on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)

The AfCFTA is one of the flagship projects of Agenda 2063 of the African Union. It is a high ambition trade agreement with a comprehensive scope that eliminates barriers to trade in Africa.

You may recall that President Muhammadu Buhari, after months of scrutiny eventually signed the agreement on July 7, 2019 that made Nigeria a member.

Adesugba, therefore, expressed delight to the president’s continued diligent handling of all trade, industry and investment policies of government that pertained to the agreement, adding that the appointment of Awolowo to oversee the national action committee in the local implementation of the agreement was fitting.

The NEPZA Chief Executive Officer, also said that Awolowo would be operating on a familiar ground having served as the Managing Director/CEO of the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) for the period of eight years.

He further explained that the bold steps taken by the government so far on the local implementation stage of the agreement were exemplary, adding that it was about time the country’s Free Trade Zones, local investors and industries took advantage of the government’s friendly policy around the agreement.

“Let me at this point congratulate Mr Segun Awolowo for his appointment and to wish him well as he frontally leads the country’s business community to boost their participation in trade on the continent.

“We are also very ecstatic with the uncommon commitment of the government in ensuring that the country takes the lead in trading across Africa. Nothing can be re-assuring to achieve this with the recent inauguration of the Deep-Sea Port located in the Lagos Free Zone by the president.’’ he said

265,000 graduates from OOU in 40 years

By Favour Nnabugwu




The Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State has produced over 265,000 graduates and postgraduates in the last 40 years of its existence.

The University Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ayodeji Agboola, who disclosed this at a press conference to herald the five-month activities marking the 40th anniversary of the institution, said the University has grown from four faculties at inception into three Colleges and 13 faculties.

Agboola in his address titled,
“OOU @ 40 Lighting the Path of Academic Excellence: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”, explained that the university which started with 522 students and four faculties in 1983, has grown to receive 22,000 applications from candidates with about seven thousand quota every year.

He added that the OOU now runs 72 programmes with full accreditation for 65 of them by the National University Commission.

The vice chancellor also disclosed that the institution had produced 190 first class graduates between 2016 and 2021 academic sessions.

“To improve on the academic programmes of the institution,
four new academic programmes had been developed and accredited by the National Universities Commission (NUC) within the last decade. These included Civil Engineering, Music, Linguistics and Nursing Science”.

“In addition, the institution has established academic programmes, that include;
Institute of Governance Studies; Open and Distance Learning Centre”.

“The current ranking of the academic programmes, based on the accreditation of programmes in 2020/2021 places the University higher in professional programmes such as Medicine, Law, Accounting, Banking and Finance, Economics, Engineering, amongst others, than similar programmes in most of the Universities in Nigeria”, he said.

“A Webometric Committee that was established to improve the visibility of the University continue to perform, with the University web visibility up from its previous 26th position in 2017 to 18th in 2022, out of a total of 170 Universities in Nigeria”.

“We are the 4th State University out of 49 in Nigeria on the Webometric ranking”.

“Over the years, academic programmes at Olabisi Onabanjo University have enjoyed high ratings as evident in the accreditation reports of 2021. These rating gave rise to the good standing of Olabisi Onabanjo University among the comity of Nigerian Universities”.

“It is on record that the University was the first to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to conduct screening examinations for candidates seeking admission into the University”.

Speaking on steps to check the rate at which students drop out of school, Agboola said the management of the Olabisi Onabanjo University has introduced work studies to enable students work and attend classes.

He said: “When we noticed the rate at which students were dropping out, we did the SWOT analysis of what happened to them. We came to realize that the major problem is funding. So, we instituted immediate funding but, of course, it cannot take care of all of them.

“So, going forward, we have agreed that we are going to be doing work studies where funding will be given to just 500 (students) because, we cannot take care of all of them.

“With work studies, we are sure that majority of them will be accommodated and that will also solve the problem.”

Agboola, who assumed office last October, said that his administration would ensure academic excellence, high impact and translational research, university administration, improved students experience, entrepreneurial linkages and partnership and improved and sustainable funding.

He said that the next five years would be used to consolidate on various achievements of the past administrations.

AIO commences registration for 49th conference in Algieria

By Favour Nnabugwu



The African Insurance Organization (AIO) has commenced registration for the 49th conference of the body since January 24, 2023.

The event will be held from 27 to 31 May 2023 at the El Aurassi Hotel in Algiers, Algeria on the theme: “The contribution of insurance to food security challenges in Africa”.

The conference program consists of five sessions: Session 1: Rapid evolution of the insurance sector in Africa: The growing importance of microinsurance and insurtechs; Session 2: Future potential: accessibility to agricultural insurance;; Session 3: Addressing climate change risks to food security: the insurance factor; Session 4: Role of regulation and supervision in supporting and facilitating wider access to index insurance products and Session 5: Development of parametric insurance solutions

The Algeria, officially the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, is a country in North Africa. Algeria is bordered to the northeast by Tunisia; to the east by Libya; to the southeast by Niger; to the southwest by Mali, Mauritania, and Western Sahara; to the west by Morocco; and to the north by the Mediterranean Sea. 

It is considered to be a part of the Maghreb region of North Africa. It has a semi-arid geography, with most of the population living in the fertile north and the Sahara dominating the geography of the south. Algeria covers an area of 2,381,741 square kilometres (919,595 sq mi), making it the world’s tenth largest nation by area, and the largest nation in Africa.

With a population of 44 million, Algeria is the ninth-most populous country in Africa, and the 32nd-most populous country in the world. The capital and largest city is Algiers, located in the far north on the Mediterranean coast.

ICIEC invests $32.3bn in Sub-Saharan Africa

By Favour Nnabugwu
The Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC) has invested $32.3bn of transactions for its Sub-Saharan African members since 2015.
The sectors the organisation is involved in include climate action, renewable energy, food security, healthcare provision, infrastructure and industry; and reinsurance capacity.
Cumulatively, over 28 years ICIEC has insured $106.34bn in trade and investment, which includes $85.64bn in supporting exports and imports, and $20.7bn in foreign direct investment for all its 49 member states.
In 2021, ICIEC insured $9.797bn in trade and investment, which include $7.556bn in supporting exports and imports, and $2.241bn in support of FDI. Business insured for sub-Saharan Africa totalled $3.768bn.
In many African states, ICIEC effectively acts as the export credit agency of the countries involved.
The Chief Executive Officer of ICIEC  Oussama Kaissi is busy criss-crossing Africa – whether, for example, addressing the AfDB’s Dakar summit, the Feed Africa: Food Sovereignty and Resilience forum under the patronage of President Macky Sall of Senegal, attending meetings of the Arab-Africa Trade Bridges (AATB) Programme in Tunis, or signing MoUs with Afreximbank in Cairo, and disbursing lines of financing for banks in Mozambique, West and North Africa and Uganda.
ICIEC, which is a member of the multilateral Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group, is involved in several landmark initiatives with African partners in 2023. These are centred around making transactions and projects “bankable” through de-risking tools; mobilising private capital and sharing risks through cooperating with peer partners.
“Our priorities,” explains Kaissi, “are upscaling operations by widening access to trade finance supported by credit insurance; and supporting projects in strategic sectors with high developmental impact in member countries.”
The focus, he says, is especially on those sectors creating jobs and fostering technology and knowledge transfer. “Given market demand, we see ICIEC getting increasingly involved in healthcare, social and transportation infrastructure, renewable energy, food security and climate mitigation sectors.”
As such, ICIEC is expanding its regional presence through dedicated country management offices, the latest of which is in Cairo. Egypt is a major beneficiary of ICIEC financing and underwriting, totalling $7.6bn to date.
Kaissi is under no illusion of the enormity of the task ahead given the huge disparity between the economies of its African member states and the underdeveloped credit and political risk insurance ecosystems.
According to the WTO, there is currently a $1.7trn gap in trade finance globally. In Africa, this amounts to a $450bn trade finance opportunity, of which the current gap is around $80bn.
Given the risks related to sectors such as agriculture, agri-business and food production in developing countries, the supply of trade finance is inevitably limited. Bank trade finance has carved out selected market niches, but it is nowhere near in promoting food self-sufficiency, import substitution and increased exports.
“Developing countries,” maintains Kaissi, “often have problems attracting requisite levels of inward private FDI flows, partly because projects are often deemed not bankable.
“Projects involving climate adaptation and food security present even bigger challenges for private investors because of various risks.
“Private sector development and engagement,” he says, “is one of the main pillars of our strategy. This requires credit enhancement that insurers such as ICIEC are well positioned to do through their sustainability policies.
“Embedding commercial opportunities and helping corporates and banks make a material difference to support positive development outcomes is something that risk mitigation tools can facilitate,”
Comprehensive private sector network
ICIEC has one of the most comprehensive private sector networks, to which it regularly allocates lines of financing to local banks either directly, through specialised investors or through Murabaha (cost-plus financing) syndications.
The challenge is to dramatically upscale these activities to also promote gender inclusion by improving access to trade finance for women entrepreneurs and small and rural farmers.
A committed Afrophile, Kaissi strongly believes in Africa’s ability to navigate its own development agenda based on African values, expertise, domestic investment.
“‘Made-in-Africa’ and ‘Africa Feeds Itself’ solutions,” he maintains, “are very important for ICIEC. Our mandate is clear – promoting intra-member trade and investment through the provision of our unique de-risking solutions, credit enhancement, guarantees and reinsurance; capacity building, technical expertise and training, guided by the development agendas of our member states.”
ICIEC does this through bilateral arrangements. multilateral cooperation and through partnerships with peer institutions and stakeholders.
In recent months these have included important initiatives under the AATB Programme, the Africa Co-Guarantee Platform, and through MoUs signed with various organisations including Afreximbank and Africa Finance Corporation.
Partnerships are at the core of ICIEC’s strategy going forward. As the insurance pillar lead of Arab-Africa Trade Bridges Programme, it is spearheading the establishment of the Arab-Africa Guarantee Fund (AAGF), expected to come on stream in autumn 2023.
Creating scalable structures
“The aim of AAGF,” says Kaissi, “is to provide a scalable structure that aims at mobilising financial resources and risk mitigation capacity to support trade and investment in Arab and African countries.”
The Umbrella Fund comprises three sub-funds: an Arab-Africa Green Facility, an Arab-Africa Food Security Facility and an Arab-Africa Health Facility, each of which may attract additional partners interested in the respective sector. Currently, work is underway in raising seed capital, finalising the business plan, and developing the investment pipeline.
ICIEC has closed $5.6bn worth of transactions to date under the AATB Programme. In 2022, it facilitated $400m trade finance transactions with Afreximbank and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) for the import of strategic goods and commodities of several African countries.
ICIEC also underwrote four other projects to the tune of €24m including a Murabaha syndication led by ITFC for STEG Tunisia to finance commodity imports; two Murabaha syndications totalling $225m in favour of the Egyptian Ministry of Finance for the import of foodstuffs; and a $63m cover for Afreximbank to insure LC confirmations with participating banks in Nigeria and Senegal for the import of essential commodities.
Africa’s food security, climate action, infrastructure and health system challenges are huge and fraught with multiple risks which necessitates in-built credit enhancement and risk mitigation, including for new instruments such as Green Sukuk and bonds. Here a potential gamechanger could be ICIEC’s Sukuk Insurance Policy (SIP), whose maiden underwriting is being rolled out for an energy transition project in Sharjah.
According to Kaissi, SIP is a credit enhancement and third-party guarantee aimed at promoting sovereign domestic issuances by ICIEC member states, especially those rated below investment grade and consequently attracting less private capital for sustainable development projects.
ICIEC is also involved in the IsDB Group’s latest initiative – a $10.54bn comprehensive Food Security Response Programme (FSRP) to assist with the ongoing food crisis and support future food resilience against climate impact in its 57 member states, of which 27 are from Africa. ICIEC has committed an initial $500m in political risk insurance and credit insurance cover, of which about $127m has recently been approved, including for an agri-project in Uganda.
Nigeria,  28 other countries expected at 47th FANAF general assembly in Congo

By Favour Nnabugwu
Over 900 participant are expected to grace the 47th General Assembly of the Federation of African National Insurance Companies (FANAF) in Kinshasa, the from the Democratic Republic of Congo
A professional association with headquarters in Dakar, Senegal, FANAF brings together 203 Member Companies operating from 29 following countries: Nigeria, and other countries
The countries include: Algeria, Bahrain, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea Conakry, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger,, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo and Tunisia.
The theme of the event, “African insurance: how to maximize its potential for shared prosperity” will hold February  20 to 24, 2023.
Based in Dakar (Senegal), FANAF is a professional association that brings together more than 203 insurance, reinsurance and motor guarantee fund companies
The Federation of African National Insurance Companies, better known as “FANAF”, was created on March 17, 1976 in Yamoussoukro (Republic of Côte d’Ivoire).