Posts tagged as: financial

Councillors Want District Probed Over Missing Shs1 Billion

By Robert Owot & Cissy Makumbi

Pader — Money amounting to Shs1b released to Pader District by the central government last financial year remains unaccounted for.

The district was allocated Shs20b to run its activities during the Financial Year 2016/2017 Budget. However, Shs1b is missing, according to the Pader Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Mr Dennis Ssebunya, who is also the accounting officer.

The district councillors have now ordered a probe into the matter to have whoever is responsible to account for the money.

The councillors have also agreed to petition the Inspector General of Government (IGG) to investigate the whereabouts of the missing funds.

Out of the missing Shs1b, Shs846m was meant for undertaking construction works, including rehabilitation of health centres, repair of access roads and construction of some classrooms, while Shs154m was to clear pensioners’ arrears.

During a recent council meeting, Mr Ssebunya disclosed to the councillors that the district had a deficit of Shs1b.

“When I took over office in August this year, I found out that the former CAO, Mr George Adok, had written a letter to the Ministry of Finance, requesting for supplementary budget to bridge the gap of Shs1b,” he said.

Mr Ssebunya, however, attributed the likely cause of the shortfall to massive recruitment of health workers and about 73 primary teachers in the same year, activities that had not been budgeted for.

But the district councillors were not convinced with the CAO’s explanation and they resolved to petition the IGG to investigate the matter.

The district youth councillor, Ms Teddy Anyango, who doubles as the chairperson for finance, planning and administration, told Daily Monitor that they had never been informed about any shortfall.

“We are learning of all this right now from the CAO. Why is it that his office has been silent on the matter for this long?” she asked.

She added that such excuses worry them, especially when it comes to service delivery.

“We are working out on the necessary document so that the matter is presented before the IGG for further scrutiny,” she said.

Ms Anyago added that the district has failed to implement its plan for the construction of classroom blocks at Tumalyec and Okworo primary schools and procurement of four motorcycles for the district education department.

When Daily Monitor contacted Mr Adok, the former CAO, on phone on Monday, he said there was a wage shortfall in the funds released during that financial year and they diverted the money to bridge the gap.

The effect

Mr Martin Kidega, the Atanga Sub-county chairperson, said several requests for funds at the district have not been responded to, something he said might affect the implementation of planned projects.

He added that to date, they are still waiting to have the funds from the district for the construction of a pit-latrine at Rwot-Awach Primary, which is estimated to cost Shs7m.

The Lapul Sub-county chairperson, Mr Robert Okane, said the district has since abandoned plans to improve Lapul Health Centre III in his sub-county because of lack of funds.

The Pader District chairperson, Mr Godfrey Oring Largo, said the district has already written to the Ministry of Finance notifying it about the matter.

“There is a new system in place that is being followed by all local governments but in some instances, those in charge are not well-versed with it,” he said.

Earlier accusations

Last month, youth leaders in Pader District accused the office of the district development officer of embezzling Shs19m meant for activities of the youth in the district.

Ethiopia: Corbetti to Generate Power Next Month

The first phase of Corbetti Geothermal project is to start generating 20MW of electricity next month. The Geothermal project is located in Corbetti town of the Oromia Regional State.

Having a total electric generating capacity of 500MW, the project is estimated to cost around four billion dollars. The equity financing of the project is funded by Reykjavik Geothermal, an Iceland based company that mainly works on energy development projects.

The company had signed a framework agreement with Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) in October 2013. The agreement was facilitated by Power Africa Initiative, an initiative which works on increasing the power generation of the continent through Independent Power Producers.

The initiative is also currently supervising a bidding process held by the EEP for a Methara Solar project, currently at the financial evaluation phase and is expected to be concluded by mid-October.

Ethiopia

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Uganda Sets Tougher Rules for Oil, Gas PSAs

By Halima Abdallah

Uganda has set tougher terms for new entrants in its oil and gas sector, where profits and losses will be shared in line with prevailing oil prices.

The new terms also restrict investors from recouping more than 65 per cent of their production costs in a year.

In the latest Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) signed last week, between Uganda and Armour Energy Ltd, the government will also be approving the company’s annual budget and expenditure.

The Australian Securities Exchange-listed company has been given an exploration licence for the Kanywataba block.

Nigeria’s Oranto Petroleum International Ltd will also get an exploration licence and PSA for the shallow and deep plays in the Ngassa area.

The two companies met the financial, technical health, safety and environment management requirements for the licences.

Uganda does not have capital to invest in its oil and gas industry, so it enters into PSAs with companies. These firms inject money for exploration, field development plans and oil production.

However, their expenditure is recoverable at the start of actual oil production for an agreed ratio.

“We have agreed that when production begins, the companies can recover 65 per cent of its production costs every year instead of full expenditure incurred for that year and the balance will be shared as profits.

But, if expenditures are high and revenues low, then we shall have zero consumption,” Permanent Secretary at the energy ministry, Robert Kassande told The EastAfrican.

Fundamental shift

This is a fundamental shift from the previously signed PSAs, where the companies’ recoverable costs took precedence while high ratios and profits were based on daily crude oil produced. The old practice also saw companies first spend money and then the Auditor-General came in later.

“The model we are using means that when oil prices are high we get good money. The previous agreements did not provide for this,” said Mr Kassande.

The issuance of the exploration rights signals that the country is on a steady path to increase its oil and gas resource base and attract additional investments in the sector. This is expected to plug petroleum products supply gap in the medium and long-term.

While the 26-month long bidding process has seen the government get $2.4 million for data development, successful companies are paying additional fees, which will be kept at the petroleum fund held at Bank of Uganda.

For example, Armour Energy paid $316,000 annual rent in addition to $990,000 for performance guarantee. Royalties agreed on will range between 8.5 per cent and 21 per cent.

Armour Energy intends to immediately start its operations to keep pace with the two-year timeline the company has been given to sink at least one well.

For the first 12 months, Armour group CEO, Roger Cressey, said the firm will be involved in research and in the second 12 months the company will carry out seismic studies.

“Our budget aligns with our commitments and we have secured $1.98 billion to carry out the work,” said Mr Cressey.

Armour energy was until recently, an exploration company. It has however included oil and gas production in its operations.

Nigeria: Forex – CBN to Sanction Erring Banks

By Emma Ujah and Peter Egwuatu

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has threatened to sanction any Deposit Money Bank (DMB) in breach of its earlier directive to open teller points for retail forex transactions and to have electronic display boards in all their branches, showing rates of all trading currencies.

Meanwhile, the naira, yesterday appreciated to N359.06 per dollar in the Investors and Exports (I&E) Foreign Exchange, forex Window.

Data from the Financial Market Dealers Quote, FMDQ showed that the indicative exchange rate for the I & E Window, known as Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange, NAFEX rose to N359.06 per dollar, yesterday, from N360.25 per dollar last week Friday. Hence the naira has appreciated by N1.19 per dollar.

Meanwhile, the volume of dollars traded in the same window dropped to $131.84 million from $154 million last week Thursday.

Specifically, the CBN in a circular warned that it would mete out stiff regulatory sanctions to banks that fail to comply fully with the directive by October 13, 2017.

The circular signed by the Director, Banking Supervision, Ahmad Abdullahi, stressed that the Bank would bar erring DMBs from all future CBN foreign exchange interventions.

The CBN had in March 2017 directed banks and authorized dealers to open a teller point for retail FX transactions (PTA/BTA and SME) including buying and selling, in all locations in order to ensure access to foreign exchange by their customers and other users, without any hindrance.

That circular also directed banks to install electronic display boards in all their branches, showing rates of all trading currencies, which it urged customers to insist on in processing their foreign exchange transactions for invisibles and the SMEs window.

Meanwhile, the apex bank has sustained its intervention in the various sectors of the inter-bank Foreign Exchange market with the injection of $545 million. Giving a breakdown of the Bank’s latest forex injection, its Acting Director, Corporate Communications, Isaac Okorafor, revealed that the retail Secondary Market Intervention Sales (SMIS) received the largest intervention of $285 million. Other components of the released figures include the $100 million offered for wholesale SMIS, $90 million for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) window and $70 million for invisibles such as Basic Travel Allowances, tuition fees and medical payments.

Nigeria

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Ghana: Ghana Needs Fewer Banks

interviewBy Frederick ASIAMAH & Cecil MENSAH

Ghana needs a smaller number of banks which are efficiently run. Thus, the Bank of Ghana’s decision to slap a GHC400 million minimum capital requirement on universal banks should be seen as a blessing in disguise.

“Why do we need thousands of financial institutions, a country of about twenty what million?” Madam Aba Amissah Quainoo, Executive Director and Chief Consultant of Mel Consult, quizzed in a no-holds-barred interview before the weekend.

The 53-year-old development economist and sociologist, who has at least 25 years’ work and financial services consulting experience in the microfinance sector, believes drastically reducing the number of banks and financial institutions will place Ghana in a better position.

She reasons that if fewer people are working in the financial sector and churning out efficiency, this will translate into benefits for productive sectors of the economy and in turn improve employment.

Therefore, it will be prudent for banks with least financial muscle to consider mergers. Otherwise, the Bank of Ghana (BoG) should boldly rid the system of weak banks, she recommended.

A week ago today, the Bank of Ghana (BoG) announced “a new minimum capital requirement, as part of a holistic financial sector reform plan to further develop, strengthen, and modernize the financial sector to support the government’s economic vision and transformational agenda.”

In the central bank’s statement, it indicated that “Looking ahead, banks would require a more sophisticated and robust capital framework, adequate to transform the banking sector and consistent with the growing risks, levels of sophistication and exposure banks are currently facing.

“In line with the above, and in accordance with Section 28 (1) of the Banks and Specialised Deposit-Taking Institutions Act, 2016 (Act 930), the Bank of Ghana announces for the information of Banks and the general public that it has revised upward the minimum paid up capital for existing banks and new entrants from GH¢120,000,000.00(One Hundred and Twenty Million Ghana Cedis) to a new level of GH¢400,000,000.00 (Four Hundred Million Ghana Cedis) effective Monday, September 11, 2017… “

A few days after, Business Day’s reporters sat across Madam Aba Amissah Quainoo in her art-filled, modest office overlooking a forest of plants in a neighbouring compound. The interview was meant to give an insight into the package she has for patrons of the upcoming Business Women’s Summit 2017 to be organised next week by the Grace Amey-Obeng Foundation International (GAOFI) and China Europe International Business School (CEIBS).

She gave the indication that she would be blunt when she presents of “The value of business development for growth” and demonstrated her forthrightness throughout the interview.

Madam Amissah Quainoo, who has worked in the microfinance sector still engages microfinance industry players through regular capacity development activities, did not hold back from brutally declaring her stance on goings-on in the sector.

In the ensuing paragraphs, we reproduce part of the conversation around the BoG’s action on minimum capital requirement for universal banks. Please, read on.

Business Day (BD): There are some challenges in the financial sector, particularly the microfinance sector. Since you have been working with microfinance institutions, are you able to tell what the problem is? Is it still the case of quality management?

Aba Amissah Quainoo (AAQ): You see, over the years I had friends and family people who say why don’t you set up a microfinance institution with all your experience and I keep telling them I’m happy to collaborate with them. And I have no regrets for not setting up a microfinance institution because if you look at the regulatory environment it keeps changing; one minute your capitalization is hundred thousand, the next it’s one million.

Now the universal commercial banks have to come up with four hundred million Ghana Cedis. Why should I give myself those headaches? Besides we have too many financial institutions in Ghana so I think that the Bank of Ghana and the Ministry of Finance’s policy direction is the right one and we should have done this more than fifteen years ago. We shouldn’t have even started the process that opened the flood gates for this.

I worked with an Australian consultant and he says in Australia they have only four banks… FOUR… a bigger economy than Ghana’s.

BD: What you are saying is something that will people will read and get angry and come at you.

AAQ: I’m sorry! It is the truth and I’m saying it. And apart from that if the central bank is going that way there must be some truth in what I’m saying. Why do we need thousands of financial institutions, a country of about twenty what million? You even have less than that number of customers because children, the aged are part (of the population). This includes all the others who are not using the services of banks. Why do we need that many?

BD: Isn’t it because as a country we now depend on the services sector, a critical part of which are the banks, to drive us and we have forgotten about the manufacturing sector? So, everybody gets up and says I’m setting up a financial institution to raise funds for someone to do something.

AAQ: I will not speak to their intentions for setting up financial institutions. I started my career as a practitioner in the financial sector. I have been part of the sector for twenty-five plus years and my conclusion is having many financial institutions is not the solution; they are undercapitalized, lots of Non-Performing Loans. Where are we going with that?

BD: I have seen the last list published by the Bank of Ghana as at May, 2017. Microfinance institutions that are in good standing come to about two hundred and fifty. Are you saying that if we have fewer of them the better it will be?

AAQ: Yes, Yes!

BD: So, it is prudent to raise the capitalization to make it difficult for people in the sector?

AAQ: It is not only making it difficult but making sure that the existing ones have enough buffer to prevent their collapse. Many are struggling with it and unfortunately we have the mentality of non-partnerships; so, you are struggling in your corner to raise the whatever, maybe two or three persons can come together and could have four million Cedis.

BD: You think some of the banks, even before the Bank of Ghana comes after them, should consider merging?

Ans: They should consider merging. Seriously they should. Why go borrowing money to capitalize? How are going to pay off that loan?

Brazil Cancels $203m Tanzania Debt

BRAZIL has officially cancelled 203 million US dollars debt owed by Tanzania accrued from a loan secured from the South American economic power house in 1979 for construction of Morogoro-Dodoma road.

Tanzania’s Ambassador to Brazil, Emmanuel Nchimbi and a senior officer in Brazil National Treasury, Dr Sonia Portella signed agreement for cancelling the debt at an event held at Tanzania’s Embassy in Brazil capital city of Brasilia, according to a statement issued yesterday.

A leader of Brazil government delegation at the event, a senior Officer from the Ministry of Finance, Guilheme Laux, declared opening of doors of trade and finance relations between Brazil and Tanzania that were closed because of the outstanding debt.

He said Brazil firms were allowed to secure loans for implementing investment projects in Tanzania and Tanzania’s government could now begin discussions for new development projects with Brazil.

Ambassador Nchimbi thanked Brazil for the cancellation of the debt saying that would support efforts by the government to build a strong economy. He said Tanzania was focusing to strengthening of trade and economic relations with the emerging South American economic powerhouse.

Last March Brazilian Ambassador to Tanzania, Carlos Alfonso Iglesias Puente, told the ‘Daily News’ that the debt rescheduling would open up trading and financing opportunities by major Brazilian Financial Institutions such as Brazilian Development Bank, something which could not be before the rescheduling of the debt.

“The move will not only cement the existing good relations between our countries but also boost the Tanzania economy by facilitating the presence of Brazilian institutions financing various development programmes and projects here,” he said in an exclusive interview.

Ambassador Puente, who was marking one year since he assumed diplomatic office in Dar es Salaam, said Brazil was already engaged in talks to support cotton production in Eastern African countries of Kenya, Burundi and Tanzania.

Brazil announced in 2013 that it would cancel or restructure almost 900 million US dollars (£600m) worth of debt with Africa where Tanzania, oil- and gas-rich Congo-Brazzaville, and Zambia were among the 12 African countries to benefit.

Congo-Brazzaville owes the most to Brazil – 352 million US dollars – followed by Tanzania ($237 million US dollars) and Zambia ($113.4 million US dollars).

The other countries to benefit are Ivory Coast, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, and Sudan. Brazil, one of five members of the BRICS emerging nations group and with a GDP of 1.796 trillion USD in 2016, is the world’s seventh largest economy.

The BRICs countries – comprising Brazil, China, India and Russia – are now Africa’s largest trading partners and its biggest new group of investors. BRICS-Africa trade is seen eclipsing $500bn by 2015, according to Standard Bank.

Tanzania

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Nigeria: Air Peace Clinches Global Recognition

By Queenesther Iroanusi

One of Nigeria’s prominent operating airlines, Air Peace, has been added as a member International Air Transport Association, IATA.

This was revealed in a press statement signed by the airline’s communication manager, Chris Iwarah, on Sunday where he said that the airline achieved the feat only in a few months after securing its IATA Operational Safety Audit, IOSA certificate which was later communicated to Air Peace via a letter signed by the Director General of IATA, Alexandre de Juniac on July 21, 2017.

He said “the good news” was communicated to the airline in a letter dated July 21, 2017, which was signed by the Director-General of IATA.

The DG of IATA had promised Allen Onyema, Chairman, Air Peace that the global aviation body was focused on creating the right atmosphere for safe air services.

Mr. Onyema, who was quoted as having accepted and appreciated the airline’s admission into the global air transport body, described the news as a heart-warming development adding that it came at a time when the airline was deepening the quality of its flight services and expanding its operations to seamlessly connect more local, regional and international destinations.

“The Chairman promised that the airline’s membership of IATA would expand its space to continue to deliver exceptional flight services in Nigeria and energise its drive to connect more countries in the West Coast of Africa.

“As an airline irrevocably committed to excellent customer service and safe flight operations, we are ready and willing to exploit all the opportunities provided by our membership of IATA to deliver the best flight experience to our numerous guests,” he said.

He further said that it “would also aid the launch of its flight operations to London, Atlanta, Dubai, Guangzhou-China, Mumbai and Johannesburg and that the airline is delighted to be part of the “reputable IATA.”

Nigeria

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Ethiopia: Transferring Technology, Improving Lives

By Mengisteab Teshome

In this highly sophisticated world, the role of technology is massive. Nowadays, technology allows anyone to do things, which once were unimaginable or impractical, so easily. In developing or under-developed world, technological innovations could deliver far more services to improve the lives of millions.

For instance, less well-off people in such areas have started providing adequate information about the standard of life they lead using Smartphone. They diagnose their own level of poverty in 30 minutes using the device. A family in a poor slum or a rural village has the capacity to take stock of its own situation. Traditionally, it has been government social workers who administrate and process such surveys.

The technology called Poverty Stoplight do the opposite. Here, a family assesses their level of poverty in 50 specific indicators, and the results are visualized in a dashboard for the family to use. So, instead of being an index for policy-makers, the Poverty Stoplight is a tool for a very different kind of decision-maker: the head of the household. Once that household’s deprivations are visualized in the dashboard, the family creates a customized plan to prioritize their problems and overcome them with the help of existing resources in the community.

Despite such and other immense uses of technology, African countries are marginal producers of new technology for various reasons. Their share of the world’s research and development effort is less than half of one percent and the research works carried out do not produce much technological innovation.

Indeed, the research and development efforts in Africa have made little contribution to technological and economic development during the last three decades and it is not expected to make much contribution either in the years ahead.

Much of the discourse on research has been and still is self- deceptive. In this context sound technology transfer and acquisition have to play an increased role in African development than it has up to now and it must receive greater attention from policy-makers than it has so far. In particular, human, institutional and legal capacity in technology transfer must be enhanced.

Despite the hurdles, Africa is trekking to the platform and gearing efforts in technology transfer to fight poverty.

This writer has got the opportunity to take part in an event that was prepared to discuss the issue under discussion. On the event, Federal Technical and Vocational Training (TVET) Agency State Minister Teshome Lemma has announced that technology copying potential of Ethiopia exceeded 80 percent.

Teshome told The Ethiopian Herald that this success is an indicator that the nation can attain the target of enhancing and innovating technologies by the end of this year. “This would be realized because the Agency is diligently working to reach the technology copying rate to 100 percent and improve technology innovation effort shortly through building the local human capacity and recruiting overseas experts,” he said.

Over 5,000 various technological innovations worth hundreds of millions of Birr have been transferred or adopted during the GTP I period, Teshome illustrated. This rate has shown much progress over the recent years. “The Agency copied and distributed over 1,987 technologies to Micro and Middle Enterprises. And the Enterprises have in turn reproduced and sold the technologies.”

Agency Communications Director Abera Abate for his part said the progress achieved in terms of job creation and income generation has been encouraging. “This is also the result of the training we offered regarding the multiplication of copied technologies.”

A significant amount of wealth has so far been created this way, and the trend has also been a good opportunity to the trainees for it has allowed them to create their own jobs, he said.

Hurdles of various sorts have been overcome, as the State Minister as well as the Director hinted. The attitude of “impossibility” in copying and using technologies has been one of the hurdles propping up along the path. Financial constraints as well as reduced trust on the copied technologies have also been the other attitudinal challenges, Teshome pointed out. “We overcome the challenges by showing how copying and using technology is possible, while maximizing resources to tackle financial challenges.”

Producing prototypes has been one of the duties of Level -A trainees in TVETs, thus, the Agency has promoted reusing waste materials, as a method to cut cost, in producing the prototypes. Recently, the Agency has formed a joint venture program to work with local universities and research institutions. Hence, the trainees could produce prototypes in collaboration with the aforementioned institutions. The university-industry linkage would, inevitably, maximize the transfer of knowledge, experience and technology.

Moreover, the linkage is monumental in overcoming gaps witnessed with respect to designing, Teshome indicated.

It could also enhance the capacity of TVETs’ in copying and testing basic technologies before reproduction so as to avoid economic and other detrimental impacts.

No doubt, technology is the engine that would transform inputs to outputs. In today’s sense, it comprises the following: Equipment and machinery as well as skilled, scientific and creative human-power. Besides comprehensive information system and good organization and management would realize further technological development.

The efficient interaction of the above factors would influence the performance of companies and the national economy positively. Manufacturers and their agents can be considered as motors of development. The aim of producers and agents is to achieve value addition and competitiveness. In addition, the use of advanced materials, efficient production methods and availability of adequate spare-parts are major contributing factors to improve competitiveness.

Current statistical analyses indicate that the rise of Gross National Product in the industrialized countries is due entirely to the changes and improvements in technology. In addition, recent studies have shown that development in technology has a significant impact upon indicators of national development such as population, income per capita, employment, productivity, export and competition in international trade.

Clearly, changes in economic indicators can have a direct influence on social indicators such as social security, life expectancy, access to medical care, mortality rate, and literacy rate and income distribution. In developed countries, the application of modern technology is directly proportional to the needs of consumers and markets, whilst in the underdeveloped countries, engineers and managers are attracted to the latest technology without regard to the appropriateness of such technology to the needs of their consumers. The inevitable consequence of this action is the underutilization of machinery purchased.

The effective transfer of technology, through selecting and purchasing of machinery, is best achieved in tandem with suitable services, training, maintenance, access to spare parts, marketing, etc. Otherwise, the financial resources, manpower and other production factors would be wasted.

Kenya: NHIF on the Spot in Car Park Probe

By David Mwere

The National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) is on the spot for failing to explain how the cost of constructing its multi-storey car park in Nairobi went up by about 340 percent.

According to a report by Auditor-General Edward Ouko for the year ending June 30, 2016, Sh900 million was budgeted for the entire project on May 2002 and the contract awarded to a local construction firm.

However, it was not until 2008 that the project initially scheduled for completion in August 2003, was completed.

COST INFLATED

By the time of its completion, Sh3.4 billion had been spent.

As if this was not enough, a further Sh626.6 million and Sh4.7 million was incurred in the financial years 2009/10 and 2010/11 respectively on the project.

The additional expenditures increased the total sum to Sh4 billion.

The report, tabled in the National Assembly last week by Majority Leader Aden Duale, further indicates that immediately the contract was awarded in 2002, its sum was revised upwards to Sh1.2 billion, representing approximately 30 percent of the original sum of Sh900 million.

“Although the issue has been discussed by the Public Investment Committee (PIC), no action appears to have been taken on the PIC recommendations as per the 19th report,” Mr Ouko’s report says.

EACC

The National Assembly watchdog committee however recommended that the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission institute investigations into the project with a view to preferring charges against those found culpable.

The report was adopted in 2015 but so far no action has been taken against those involved by the responsible government agencies.

The auditor-general has also raised questions on the NHIF’s 10-hectare land in Karen valued at Sh298.6 million.

INVESTIGATION

The report notes that the ownership of the land is in dispute and the matter is in court.

According to the auditor general, although the issue was discussed by the PIC, no action was taken on the committee’s recommendations in its 19th report that the National Lands Commission conducts further investigations into the matter within six months.

Despite Sh1.4 billion being set aside for drawings and designs for a proposed resource centre, construction is yet to start since the land was acquired 14 years ago.

“As noted in the previous year, the management has not commenced because of lack of approval from the parent ministry.

“It has not been possible to ascertain the ownership status of the parcel of the land in dispute,” the report said.

Kenya

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Nigeria: Our Masts Don’t Pose Health Risks, NCC Insists

By Christopher Isiguzo and Gideon Arinze

Enugu — The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) THURSday in Enugu for the umpteenth time dismissed out rightly misconceptions that mobile phones and telecom masts cause cancer or other health related problems.

The telecom regulatory agency also reaffirmed its commitment to educating the public on issues of public health and telecommunication services.

The Zonal Controller of NCC, Enugu zone, Mrs. Emilia Nwokoro, during a Consumer Conversation Forum, a public enlightenment programme, at the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu on that a number of researches were performed over the years to assess whether mobile phones pose a potential health risk proved negative.

“A number of studies have investigated the effects of radio frequency fields on brain electrical activity, cognitive function, sleep, heart rate and blood pressure in volunteers. To date, research does not suggest any consistent evidence of adverse health effects from exposure to radio frequency fields at levels below those that cause tissue heating.

“In line with the position of International Telecommunications Union (ITU) supported by International Council on Non-ionising, Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), NCC has maintained that as at today, there is no conclusive evidence to show correlation between the Electromagnetic Fields from telecommunications masts and health risk to individuals around these infrastructure” she said.

She said 2017 was declared NCC Year of the Consumers with special focus on health issues and complaints relating to unsolicited messages, stressing that the commission brought out “Do Not Disturb, DND” number 2442 whereby consumers can text STOP to the number to prevent receiving unsolicited messages or HELP to the same 2442 to select messages that can come in.

She said that NCC 622 toll free line enables consumers to lodge unresolved complaints to NCC at no cost, even though consumers were expected to have lodged their complaints to their network operators first.

The Zonal Controller said that the essence of NCC’s massive enlightenment programmes directed at telecom consumers was to make communication a pleasurable experience as well as prevent telecom operators from ripping them off.

The NCC’S “Face of Telecom Consumers” and popular comedienne, Helen Paul, thrilled the audience with the jokes and presentation of cash gifts to participants who were able to present correct NCC advert messages on public enlightenment.

Nigeria

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