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Nigeria not handing over Ajaotuka Steel Plant to British firm. Here’s why

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Nigeria’s Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite, has refuted reports that the Federal government of Nigeria plans to hand over the Ajaokuta Steel plant to a British firm for rehabilitation.

The refuter was revealed via a statement issued by the minister’s Special Assistant on Media, Ayodeji Adeyemi on Monday.

The statement is in reaction to a report on some media outlets that the Ajaokuta Steel plant will be handover to a British firm,

“A local company in partnership with a British company has offered to execute the technical audit at no cost to Nigeria and with no preconditions. This was what I said at the media parley at the statehouse and not that Ajaokuta would be handed over to a British company for rehabilitation.” The statement reads.

The minister further explains that the ministry’s partnership with a Russian firm on the resuscitation of the plant due to international sanctions placed on Russia, which have also impacted Russian firms and businesses.

“The minister clarified that a local Nigerian firm with a British partner had expressed interest in carrying out the TECHNICAL AUDIT for free with no preconditions. The minister pointed out that the federal government had been in discussion with a Russian firm Messrs TPE (nominated by the Russian government) towards conducting the technical audit. The war between Ukraine and Russia has caused a setback to the proposed plan.” The statement concludes.

The Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited (ASCL) is located in Ajaokuta, Kogi State, Nigeria on a 24,000 hectares (59,000 acres) site starting in 1979, it is the largest steel mill in Nigeria, and the coke oven and by-products plant are larger than all the refineries in Nigeria combined. However, the project was mismanaged and remains incomplete 40 years later. Three-quarters of the complex has been abandoned, and only the light mills have been put into operation for small-scale fabrication and the production of iron rods.

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World Bank approves $500 million loan for Egypt to mitigate wheat shortage

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The World Bank Board of Executive Directors, has approved a USD 500 million loan to Egypt Bank to help finance its wheat purchases as prices skyrocket because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Egypt’s international cooperation ministry made the announcement on Wednesday revealing that the funds will primarily support the country’s wheat purchases to help the government maintain a strategic reserve and utilize the investments made in raising the country’s grain storage capacity.

statement by the World Bank quoted the minister, Dr. Rania Al-Mashat, the project supports the government’s strong commitment to ensuring that the needs of citizens continue to be met even amid a very challenging global context caused by concomitant crises such as COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine.

“In addition to ensuring sustained food security, this project supports national climate efforts by increasing agricultural resilience.”

Wheat is fundamental to the Egyptian diet, with about 70 per cent of the population relying on subsidised bread to feed their families. The North African country is the world’s top importer of wheat, and has had its supply suffer since Russian invasion of Ukraine disrupted crucial supply from the two major exporting countries.

Russia is the world’s largest wheat exporter and Ukraine is among the top five. Global grain markets are facing turmoil following war between the two European countries with the two countries accounting for about 30 percent of the world’s wheat supply.

Egypt’s Prime Minister, Mostafa Madbouly, announced in March that the country will diversify its sources of wheat to avoid relying on what he described as “specific sources” for this product.

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AfDB to sponsor Rwanda’s African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) says it will be sponsoring Rwanda’s venture to host the new African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation.

The venture is expected boost the continent’s access to technology in manufacturing medicines and vaccines.

AfDB President Dr Akinwumi Adesina said the project includes “revamping Africa’s pharmaceutical industry, building Africa’s vaccine manufacturing capacity, and building Africa’s quality healthcare infrastructure.

“Even with the decision of the Trips waiver at the World Trade Organization (WTO), millions are dying -and will most likely continue to die – from lack of vaccines and effective protection,” Dr Adesina said.

Meanwhile the venture has drawn commendation from players. The Director-General of the World Trade Organization, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, remarked that the project “provides part of the infrastructure needed to assure an emergent pharmaceutical industry in Africa.”

Africa is short of pharmaceutical companies that fits its population size. The continent is currently home to about 375 pharmaceutical firms, which produce less than 25 percent of the needed products annually, forcing the countries to import vastly to meet demand.

This dependence on imports leaves citizens vulnerable to shortages of medication — a problem that triggered a continent-wide crisis during the pandemic.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, small pharmacies and large medical stores in Rwanda ran out of stock. In South Africa, it became nearly impossible to fill prescriptions for psychiatric drugs and oral contraceptives. In Kenya, oncologists complained about challenges treating their cancer patients. And in Nigeria, stocks of treatments to manage chronic illnesses, including HIV medicines, dipped critically low.

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