MainOne and Facebook announce open-access fiber network in Nigeria

MainOne has announced a metro fiber infrastructure project in two states of Nigeria, with support from Facebook. The infrastructure collaboration is part of Facebook’s efforts to connect more people to broadband internet.

MainOne is building and operating approximately 750 km terrestrial fiber infrastructure in Edo and Ogun States, two of Nigeria’s fastest growing states

As part of this project, MainOne is building and operating approximately 750 km terrestrial fiber infrastructure in Edo and Ogun States, two of Nigeria’s fastest growing states.

These open-access transport networks will provide metro fiber connectivity to reach more than 1,000,000 people in Benin City, Abeokuta, Sagamu and 10 other towns by connecting mobile operators’ base stations, Internet Service providers, Points of presence (POPs), and public locations including schools and hospitals.

This partnership will leverage MainOne’s strength as a wholesale Telecoms Infrastructure service provider with investment from Facebook and support from local regulatory and state authorities to further deepen broadband penetration in Nigeria.

Speaking on the partnership, Ibrahima Ba, Network Investments Lead for Emerging Markets at Facebook, said: “We are working closely with MainOne and other partners to accelerate broadband deployment. In Nigeria, we are bringing together Facebook’s learnings from scaling our global infrastructure with MainOne’s knowledge of the local environment to develop and test new working models for multiple operators to access common infrastructure.”

Funke Opeke, MainOne’s Chief Executive Officer, lauded the collaboration and the commitment of Facebook and authorities in Nigeria to improving broadband penetration across the country. Commenting on the partnership, she added “MainOne has always been committed to broadband innovation, job creation, as well as growing the digital economy of West Africa. We believe that this partnership and the open-access network we have developed will be beneficial to improving the quality of access and accelerating the digital transformation in Ogun and Edo States.”


Ghana’s recent economic performance has been favorable – IMF Team

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team led by Ms. Annalisa Fedelino said Ghana’s recent economic performance has been favorable despite a less supportive external environment for frontier economies.

Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta

The team visited Accra from February 12–21, 2019 to conduct discussions for the combined 7th and 8th reviews of Ghana’s economic reform program supported by an Extended Credit Facility.

The mission met with Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, Bank of Ghana Governor Ernest Addison, other senior officials, as well as representatives of the private sector, civil society, and development partners.

At the end of the mission in Accra, Ms. Fedelino said Ghana’s Real GDP grew by 6.7 percent in the first three quarters of 2018. Over the medium term, growth is projected to remain sustained, buttressed by recent oil discoveries. Consumer price inflation, now at 9.0 percent, is well within the band around the inflation target.

“The overall fiscal deficit reached 3.7 percent of the rebased GDP (excluding financial sector costs), and the primary surplus (overall budget balance excluding interest costs), was in line with program targets. At the same time, the economy experienced some pressures in the second half of 2018, largely emanating from foreign investors rebalancing their portfolios in the context of a stronger dollar, rising US interest rates, and volatility in emerging markets, which led to a decline in external buffers.

“Good progress has been made in implementing the ECF-supported program, which will end on April 3, 2019 as envisaged. Six out of nine end-December 2018 quantitative targets under the program were met and structural reforms are advancing.

“The Ghanaian authorities and the mission reached understandings, ad referendum, on economic policies aimed at safeguarding macroeconomic stability, improving monitoring of fiscal risks, strengthening external buffers, and enhancing the resilience of the financial sector. To this end, it was agreed that tax exemptions will be rationalized, and their management framework strengthened to improve domestic revenue mobilization. The authorities estimate tax exemption costs to be as much as 1.6 percent of GDP in 2018. New financing schemes in the 2019 budget will be solely used to fund budgeted spending. As part of efforts to address fiscal risks from state-owned enterprises, an oversight body will be established to monitor and manage the state’s interests in specified public entities.

“Monetary policy should continue to remain prudent and complement fiscal adjustment efforts to keep underlying inflationary pressures in check and avoid upside surprises.

“The authorities have shown great commitment to financial stability with the resolution of nine banks during the last two years which will help improve medium-term prospects for economic growth. The overall financial system is adequately capitalized and well-positioned to support credit growth and investment going forward. The Bank of Ghana is introducing reform measures to address remaining financial sector weaknesses.

“The authorities and the mission discussed risks to the outlook and vulnerabilities stemming from exposure to external sources of funding and potential policy slippages. To mitigate these risks, the authorities have renewed efforts to strengthen external buffers. They have also enacted legislation that introduces a fiscal rule and have established a fiscal council to underpin fiscal discipline and preserve macroeconomic gains made in the last two years.

Ms. Fedelino said the IMF’s Executive Board is expected to consider the combined seventh and eighth ECF reviews by end-March 2019.

Completion of these reviews, she noted, would make available SDR 132.84 million (about US$188 million), bringing total disbursements under the program to about SDR 664.20 million (US$920.58 million).

AU and AfDB reaffirm commitment to accelerate the continent’s economic transformation

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Moussa Faki Mahamat and the President of the African Development Bank Akinwumi Adesina, met Tuesday in Addis Ababa to reaffirm their commitment to accelerate Africa’s economic transformation.

The AU and AfDB pushing for economic transformation in Africa

Mahamat and Adesina co-chaired a high-level consultative meeting attended by senior management of both institutions to take stock of the ongoing collaboration between the two institutions. Discussions focused on ways to strengthen partnership in delivering Agenda 2063 and other global frameworks for development.

AUC Chairperson Mahamat noted the strong alignment of the African Development Bank’s High 5 strategic priorities with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The African Development Bank is the financial muscle of the African Union as far as Agenda 2063 is concerned, and we need to further institutionalize this partnership to make it more effective,” Mahamat said.

Addressing the audience, Adesina recalled that it was at the first meeting of the AUC, then known as the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1963, that heads of state endorsed the establishment of the African Development Bank. Since then, there has been a long history of cooperation between the two institutions.

“We must, therefore, build on the long-standing relations between our two institutions and pool our collective expertise and resources in pursuit of the economic development and social transformation of our dear continent,” he said.

Adesina underscored the strategic importance of the Joint Secretariat Support Office (JSSO) for the African Union Commission, UNECA and the African Development Bank. He also reaffirmed the Bank’s need to position JSSO as a platform to foster effective coordination and collaboration, while leveraging the comparative advantages of the three pan-African institutions.

The Meeting welcomed the appointment of Lamin Barrow as the new Director for the JSSO and the Bank’s Permanent Representative to the African Union.

In a declaration issued at the end of the meeting, both leaders pledged to support the speedy implementation of various continental initiatives, Agenda 2063 and its 12 Flagship Programmes. These include the implementation of the Grand Inga Dam Port; the African Passport and Free Movement of People; the establishment of a Single African Air Transport Market; an African Virtual University; the Integrated High Speed Train Network and the establishment of a Continental Free Trade Area.

The institutions further recognized the need to continue to explore opportunities to accelerate the implementation of programmes with Regional Economic Communities and partners.

The communique resolved to prepare an action plan for the implementation of the resource mobilization strategy set in place to advance the continent’s development agenda.

The institutions also committed to work together for the successful replenishment of the African Development Fund and the Bank Group’s General Capital Increase.

The President rounded off his engagement at the AU Summit with a series of bilateral meetings, beginning with new AU Chairman and President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, H.E.M. Abdel Fattah el-Sis. Adesina also held talks with Julius Maada Bio, President of Sierra Leone, Demesse Makonnen, Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia and Raila Odinga, African Union Special Envoy on Infrastructure.

AfDB and ECOWAS sign agreement for study on Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway

The African Development Bank ( and the Economic Community Of West African States Commission (ECOWAS) have signed an agreement for a study into a 1,000 kilometre highway linking Cote d’Ivoire’s commercial capital Abidjan, to Lagos in Nigeria, marking a new step in building regional integration and trade.

The proposed Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway, a six-lane (3-lane dual) motorway, will connect the countries via Ghana (Accra), Togo (Lomé) and Benin (Cotonou).The agreement signed Monday for a study on the technical, implementation and operational aspects of the project, comes nearly five years after the presidents of Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria, signed a treaty on the establishment of the highway in March 2014.

Jean Claude Brou, President of the ECOWAS Commission, Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission Finda Koroma, the Nigerian Ministry of Power, Works and Housing and Chairman of the Ministerial Steering Committee for the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Development Program, Babatunde Raji Fashola, attended the ceremony, which took place in Abuja, Nigeria. European Union (EU) Head of Co-operation in Abuja Kurt Cornelis, together with other relevant stakeholders, were also present at the event.

The Bank has approved a financing package of US$12.6 million to finance part of the study for project and mobilized a Euro 9.1 million grant from the EU Commission, bringing the total financing for this important study, to US$22.7 million.

By linking some of Africa’s largest and economically dynamic cities, the road will promote cross-border trade and integrate fast-growing economies within the ECOWAS. This is expected to contribute to reducing the poverty levels of the population that depends on inter regional trade for livelihood.

Ebrima Faal, Senior Director of the Bank’s Nigeria office noted that “the Bank remains fully committed to the 2020 ECOWAS Vision. “We will work closely with the public and private sectors to unlock new sources of growth for Africa, while reducing inequality between countries and within countries. Together, we can unlock the enormous potentials of the West African region and deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals for the region,” Faal said.

Jobs and unemployment in emerging markets and developing countries two focal points of IMF messaging in Davos

IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice said on Thursday said that the IMF is releasing two staff papers based on recent research, ‘one of which will focus on the issue of jobs and unemployment, especially in emerging markets and developing countries, and especially focused on the issue of youth unemployment actually. So that’s going to be launched — that staff paper is going to be launched on January 23’.

He said the IMF’s Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, will be in Davos for the World Economic Forum meeting on Monday.

Gerry also said the IMF will also be focusing on the Sustainable Development Goals and the costs, the fiscal financial costs of the Sustainable Development Goals where the IMF staff have conducted some recent research.

The ILO’s flagship report shows that while the global unemployment rate is stabilizing, unemployment and decent work deficits will stay at persistently high levels in many parts of the world.

According to the World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2018 , the global unemployment rate has been stabilizing after a rise in 2016. It is expected to have reached 5.6 per cent in 2017, with the total number of unemployed exceeding 192 million persons.

Hopefully, representatives of African countries will raise the issues of market inequalities and how they affect local job creation and economic sustainability.

World Bank Group Announces $50 billion over Five Years for Climate Adaptation and Resilience

The World Bank Group has launched its Action Plan on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience. Under the plan, the World Bank Group will ramp up direct adaptation climate finance to reach $50 billion over FY21–25.

This financing level—an average of $10 billion a year—is more than double what was achieved during FY15-18. The World Bank Group will also pilot new approaches to increasing private finance for adaptation and resilience.

“Our new plan will put climate resilience on an equal footing with our investment in a low carbon future for the first time. We do this because, simply put, the climate is changing so we must mitigate and adapt at the same time,” said World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva. “We will ramp up our funding to help people build a more resilient future, especially the poorest and most vulnerable who are most affected.”

The increase in adaptation financing will support activities that include:

· Delivering higher quality forecasts, early warning systems and climate information services to better prepare 250 million people in at least 30 countries for climate risks;

· Supporting 100 river basins with climate-informed management plans and/or improved river basin management governance;

· Building more climate-responsive social protection systems; and

· Supporting efforts in at least 20 countries to respond early to, and recover faster from, climate and disaster shocks through additional financial protection instruments.

In addition to boosting finance, the Plan will also support countries to mainstream approaches to systematically manage climate risks at every phase of policy planning, investment design, and implementation.

“This Action Plan is a welcome step from the World Bank,” said Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations and co-chair of the Global Commission on Adaptation. “The world’s poorest and most climate vulnerable countries stand to benefit from its increased finance and support for longer term policy change.”

The Action Plan builds on the link between adaptation and development by promoting effective and early actions that also provide positive development outcomes. For example, investing in mangrove replanting may protect a local community against sea level rise and storm surges, while also creating new opportunities for eco-tourism and fisheries. Early and proactive adaptation and resilience-building actions are more cost-effective than addressing impacts after they occur.

The Action Plan also includes the development of a new rating system to create incentives for, and improve the tracking of, global progress on adaptation and resilience. The new system will be piloted by the World Bank in FY19-20 and rolled out to projects in relevant sectors by FY21.

The Action Plan on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience forms part of the World Bank Group’s 2025 Targets to Step Up Climate Action which were launched in December 2018, during the UN’s COP24 in Poland.

Storm Clouds Are Brewing for the Global Economy

The outlook for the global economy in 2019 has darkened.

International trade and investment have softened. Trade tensions remain elevated. Several large emerging markets underwent substantial financial pressures last year.

Kristalina Georgieva World Bank Chief Executive Officer

Against this challenging backdrop, growth in emerging market and developing economies is expected to remain flat in 2019. The pickup in economies that rely heavily on commodity exports is likely to be much slower than hoped for. Growth in many other economies is anticipated to decelerate.

In addition, risks are growing that growth could be even weaker than anticipated, the World Bank’s January 2019 Global Economic Prospects reports.

Also, simmering trade disputes could escalate. Higher debt levels have made some economies, particularly poorer countries, more vulnerable to rising global interest rates, shifts in investor sentiment, or exchange rate fluctuations.

In addition, more frequent weather events raise the possibility of large swings in food prices, which could deepen poverty. Because equitable growth is essential to alleviating poverty and increasing shared prosperity, emerging market and developing economies need to face this challenging economic climate by taking steps to sustain economic momentum, readying themselves for turbulence, and foster long-term growth. Rebuilding budget and central bank buffers; nurturing human capital; promoting trade integration; and addressing the challenges posed by sometimes large informal sectors, are important ways to do this.

“At the beginning of 2018 the global economy was firing on all cylinders, but it lost speed during the year and the ride could get even bumpier in the year ahead,” said World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva. “As economic and financial headwinds intensify for emerging and developing countries, the world’s progress in reducing extreme poverty could be jeopardized. To keep the momentum, countries need to invest in people, foster inclusive growth, and build resilient societies.”

Promoting equitable and sustainable economic growth is central the World Bank’s goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. The GEP provides invaluable intelligence in support of achieving these aims and is a trusted resource for clients, stakeholders, civil organizations and researchers.

Burdened by debt

Addressing high levels of debt looms as an increasingly important concern.

In recent years, many low-income countries have gained access to new sources of finance, including private sources and creditors outside the Paris Club of major creditor countries. This has allowed countries to fund important development needs. However, it has also contributed to growing public debt.

Low income countries are using an increasing proportion of government revenues to make interest payments. Such debt service pressures will only grow further if borrowing costs rise as expected in coming years.

Under these circumstances, were financing conditions to tighten abruptly, countries could experience sudden capital outflows and struggle to refinance debts.

Ideally, public debt should be sustainable and serviced under a wide range of circumstances at reasonable costs. By increasing the effectiveness of resource mobilization, public spending, as well as strengthening debt management and transparency, low-income countries can reduce the possibility of costly debt stress, support financial sector development, and reduce macroeconomic volatility.

The article is published courtesy of the World Bank