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Scotland: Greater Cooperation Needed to Protect Human from Overlapping Economic, Environmental, Security Challenges

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Scotland: Greater Cooperation Needed to Protect Human from Overlapping Economic, Environmental, Security Challenges

By: Michael Mike

The Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC has called for greater cooperation to protect all humanity from overlapping economic, environmental and security challenges.

She made the called at the weekend while addressing leaders from 121 Non-Aligned Movement countries at the 19th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement in Kampala, Uganda.

In audience were leaders, foreign affairs ministers and strategic partners

The Secretary-General said: “Our world is tightly bound by a tangled knot of crises spanning global economic, environmental and security systems. These crises are serious, complex and increasingly entrenched.

“Overcoming them will require a level of international political and economic cooperation, which is unprecedented in this century.”

Scotland while acknowledging the immense pressure on the multilateral system, said she remained optimistic, adding that: “Together, we have the power to shift the balance of our fracturing world from mistrust and confrontation to dialogue and collaboration. Your perspectives are essential, and your action is imperative.”

Touching on the disproportionate impacts of the climate crisis on people, communities and economies across the Commonwealth, the Secretary-General recounted the recent devastation in Vanuatu – a member of both the Commonwealth and the Non-Aligned Movement.

She said: “The beautiful island nation of Vanuatu was devastated by category five Cyclone Lola last year, which hit seven months after the twin cyclones Judy and Kevin wiped out 50 per cent of the country’s GDP, with rebuilding efforts now estimated at 80 per cent of GDP.”

The Secretary-General while expressing concern over the absence of adequate international support for climate-vulnerable developing countries, the
stressed that the limitations of the global financial system are letting many countries down.

With no alternative, she added, many developing countries are forced to borrow loans for rebuilding on unfavourable terms, resulting in a “vicious cycle of unsustainable debt”.

She noted that research has revealed that many climate-vulnerable developing countries spend more on external debt payments than on projects to protect people from the impacts of climate change.

She repeated her call for the reform of the global financial system, adding that: “We need to rewire the entire system, with action rooted in the sharpest honesty about where we are, driven by evidence, and flowing through every sector: from finance, energy and trade to health, education, and digitalisation. In all of this, we must work and act together.”

Without meaningful reform, she warned of setbacks in the fulfilment of human rights, basic needs, and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Secretary-General further pledged her commitment to the reform process, stating that: “The Commonwealth will not rest until all countries, from the largest to the smallest, have an equal say in decisions affecting them.”

Scotland thanked the Non-Aligned Movement, which shares 44 of its 121 members with the Commonwealth, for its longstanding engagement with the Commonwealth.

She also congratulated President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda on his chairmanship of the Non-Aligned Movement and promised the Commonwealth’s full support during his term.

The Secretary-General equally thanked Azerbaijan, the outgoing chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, adding: “I pay tribute to His Excellency President Aliyev of Azerbaijan for his stewardship of the Non-Aligned Movement over the last four difficult years and commend his government for stepping forward to host the next United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP29) in Baku later this year.”

During the summit, the Secretary-General also met with leaders from Commonwealth countries to discuss shared interests and opportunities for further collaboration.

Scotland: Greater Cooperation Needed to Protect Human from Overlapping Economic, Environmental, Security Challenges

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Russia Commends ECOWAS’ Partial Lifting of Sanctions on Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso

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Russia Commends ECOWAS’ Partial Lifting of Sanctions on Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso

By: Michael Mike

Russia has commended the decision of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to lift some of the sanctions imposed on departing members of the bloc, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso as a result of military intervention in civilian rule.

An official statement by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday said: “The window for dialogue between the Sahel States Alliance (SSA) and ECOWAS remains open, and the decisions made at the Abuja summit can be seen as a demonstration of political will in the interest of maintaining Community unity.”

The statement read: “On February 24th, an extraordinary summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was held in Abuja, Nigeria, where the most pressing regional issues were discussed. The forum resulted in a series of important decisions, including those addressing the preservation of ECOWAS unity in light of the recent announcement by the leadership of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso of their “immediate” withdrawal from its membership. These countries, amidst the Community’s imposed restrictions, established a new integrative alliance in September 2023, named the “Sahel States Alliance” (SSA), aimed at consolidating efforts in national defense and security.

“It has been reported that among other measures, ECOWAS announced a partial lifting of sanctions against Niger, including the reopening of land and air borders, unfreezing of Nigerien assets in the Central Bank and Community commercial banks, resumption of trade and financial transactions, electricity supplies, and other services, as well as the provision of assistance from ECOWAS financial institutions.

“The Russian side emphasizes that the West African states should determine their own ways to resolve the current situation. The window for dialogue between the SSA and ECOWAS remains open, and the decisions made at the Abuja summit can be seen as a demonstration of political will in the interest of maintaining Community unity.

“Moscow reaffirms its unwavering readiness to enhance cooperation with Sahelian states in formats they deem most suitable for collectively addressing existing economic challenges and threats to their security.”

Russia Commends ECOWAS’ Partial Lifting of Sanctions on Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso

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Palestinian Ambassador Sends SOS to Stop Impending Famine in Gaza

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Palestinian Ambassador Sends SOS to Stop Impending Famine in Gaza

By: Michael Mike

The Palestinian Ambassador to Nigeria, Abdullah Shawesh, has called for urgent assistance from across the globe to safe Gaza from impending famine.

Speaking to journalists in Abuja on Thursday, the envoy said should nothing be done to forestall the current catastrophe brought about by incessant attacks by Israeli force and distorting of humanitarian aids movement into Gaza, the besieged city may be under the siege of famine and epidemic.

According to him, Thursday marked 132 days since the war began, hundreds of people died due to lack of proper medical treatment and infectious diseases has already invaded and famine is knocking on the door.

He alleged that Palestinians in Gaza today are being forced to choose between being killed, maimed, or fleeing their homes and 70 percent of them are already refugees who fled their homeland 76 years ago.

The envoy said Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief
Coordinator said, and I quote, “Today, I’m sounding the alarm once again: Military operations in Rafah could lead to a slaughter in Gaza.

“They could also leave an already fragile humanitarian operation at death’s door.

“As a result of this continuous war, humanitarian workers have been shot at, held at gunpoint, attacked, and killed, they lack the safety guarantees, aid supplies and the staff capacity to keep operations afloat.”

Shawesh also said that there is a risk of outbreaks of infectious diseases due to unsanitary conditions, overcrowding, and the heavy burden on the health system.

“Out of the 22 health units affiliated with the UNRWA, only four are operating due to the destruction and access restrictions; only thirteen hospitals out of 36 in Gaza are functioning.

“According to the Minister of Health, there have been 223,000 cases of acute respiratory infections, 158,000 cases of diarrhea, 53% of which were among children under the age of five, 55,472 cases of scabies and lice, 38,010 cases of skin rash, and 5,330 cases of chickenpox, in addition to several cases of relapsing hepatitis,” he added.

The Ambassador stressed that international community has been warning against the dangerous consequences of any ground invasion in Rafah and the Government of Israel cannot continue to ignore these calls.

Palestinian Ambassador Sends SOS to Stop Impending Famine in Gaza

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UK Signs Enhanced Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement with Nigeria

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UK Signs Enhanced Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement with Nigeria

By: Michael Mike

The United Kingdom has signed an Enhanced Trade and Investment Partnership (ETIP) with Nigeria to boost trade and investment between the two countries and unlock new opportunities for UK and Nigerian businesses.

UK Minister for Trade and Business Kemi Badenoch signed the ETIP alongside her Nigerian counterpart Nigerian Trade Minister Doris Nkiruka Uzoka-Anite on Tuesday in Abuja.

The Enhanced Trade and Investment Partnership (ETIP) is the first the UK has signed with an African country and is designed to grow the UK and Nigeria’s already thriving trading relationship, which totalled £7 billion in the year to September 2023.

This arrangement will pave the way for opportunities in sectors crucial to both economies such as finance and legal services as well as foster new collaborations in innovative areas like the creatives industry. The visit by the Secretary of State comes a week ahead of a UK Government-led fashion and beauty trade delegation to Nigeria.

The ETIP also initiates further collaboration on the UK’s ambitious Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS), launched last year which puts in place simpler and more generous trading terms for Nigeria and 36 other African countries.

Nigeria is a major beneficiary of changes introduced by the DCTS and will see tariff reductions on over 3000 products, meaning that 99% of existing Nigerian exports to the UK by value will be duty free. Tariffs have been removed on Nigerian goods which promote value addition in important non-oil export sectors such as cocoa butter and paste, sesame oil and clothing and apparel. These changes will boost trade with the UK and support the Federal Government of Nigeria’s wider trade policy priorities.

Badenoch said: “The UK and Nigeria are vital partners, with longstanding historical and economic ties.

“UK businesses are already seeing huge success in Nigeria – one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

“I’m delighted to be here to sign our new enhanced partnership which will allow UK firms to export their world-class goods and services more easily and expand their footprint in Nigeria.”

Nigerian Minister for Trade Doris Nkiruka Uzoka-Anite said: “The UK is one of our long-standing strategic partners with whom we share strong ties, and it gladdens me that this relationship is set to deepen as we sign the Enhanced Trade and Investment Partnership.

“This partnership will see Nigeria-UK relations move beyond one of shared history and strong ties to one of shared economic prosperity. From increasing market access and supporting our vibrant businesses, to creating more jobs and accelerate greater investments in sectors of mutual interests.”

The ETIP will help to build on the significant progress already made in resolving market access barriers in the education and financial sectors, which have led to a more favourable trading environment for UK and Nigerian businesses.

In addition, through this partnership, there is an opportunity to leverage UK and international investment from the City of London, which is home to the top financial and professional services.

TheCityUK International Managing Director Nicola Watkinson said: “Nigeria is an important growth market for the UK-based financial and related professional services industry and TheCityUK welcomes the signing of the new ETIP.
“We look forward to continuing our engagement through the working groups to increase market access and remove regulatory frictions.”

During the visit, Minister Badenoch will also hold a groundbreaking ceremony at Abuja’s first industrial park built by UK-Turkish construction firm Zeberced Ltd to open its support services areas at the site.

The UK government has been supporting the firm in a number of areas. The $144m industrial park is set to create 620 direct jobs and 1,650 indirect jobs and provide a base for major firms to access central and northern Nigeria.

The UK trade minister will in addition, witness the signing of a landmark energy agreement between UK based energy firm Konexa and Nigerian power generation company North South Power (NSP).

The agreement will enable Konexa to supply Nigerian Breweries PLC with 100% renewable power, promote sustainable development and clean energy adoption, and lead to infrastructure investments of over £14 million.

Konexa CEO Pradeep Pursnani said: “This is a very important milestone for Konexa, North South Power, Nigerian Breweries, and all our investment partners. Over the last few years, Konexa has been working on a disruptive model that matches customer energy demand with renewable energy supply.

“We are looking forward to investing more than £120m in renewable energy generation, transmission, distribution, and battery storage solutions to help our customers transition away from the use of fossil fuel.”

UK exports to Nigeria were £4 billion in the 12 months to the end of September 2023, an increase of 3% in current prices from the 12 months to September 2022.Of this, £1.3 billion were goods and £2.6 billion were services.

The ETIP will build on the UK’s Developing Countries Trading Scheme, which has already granted enhanced preferential access for over 3000 products, meaning that 99% of existing Nigerian exports to the UK by value will be duty free.

Tariffs have been removed on Nigerian goods in important non-oil export sectors such as cocoa butter and paste, sesame oil and clothing and apparel.

For example, 14% of tariffs have been removed on prepared tomatoes, 4.5% removed on sesame oil, 6.4% removed for woven cotton, 4.5% removed on cocoa paste, and 12.5% removed on plantains.

Working groups and business dialogues will take place to ensure businesses on both sides benefit and have access to the opportunities the ETIP presents.

Following the Secretary of State’s visit, His Majesty’s Deputy Trade Commissioner for Africa, will be leading a fashion and beauty retail Trade Mission from the UK to Nigeria with 8 UK brands looking to form retail and e-commerce partnerships in Nigeria. These include the Boohoo Group, Kartel Watches and The Gel Bottle amongst others.

Konexa has a Generation and Trading license, TUoS (Transmission use of system) agreement with TCN and DUoS (Distribution use of System) agreement with DISCOS that enables them to wheel renewable electrons through transmission and distribution networks to supply customers, including investment in improving the network.

North South Power (NSP) is an indigenous power generation company with over 600MW of operating hydro already operating on the national grid (approx. 8% of national energy supply). The Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) being signed is for a new 30MW hydro asset that they are commissioning in December 2024

The new deal will help supply Nigerian Breweries (Heineken,Kaduna), with 100% renewable power – using a combination of Hydropower, battery storage and a power management system – marking a significant step towards sustainable industrial operations in the region.

UK Signs Enhanced Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement with Nigeria

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