Information and news about nigeria

Morocco-Nigeria PartnershipFor more than two decades, Morocco has worked to build partnerships with sub-Saharan African countries. The country is increasing its cooperation with several African countries to improve the bonds of unity on the African continent. A robust Morocco-Nigeria partnership is enhancing the economies of both countries.

Pipeline Gas Partnership

The Morocco-Nigeria partnership is taking another step forward, this time cooperating on a major gas pipeline that the king of Morocco and the president of Nigeria first discussed back in 2016. Nigeria’s gas will contribute to developing economies in much of the sub-Saharan African region. In addition, it will stimulate the growth and interconnectedness of the West African energy market.

Studies have demonstrated the economic viability of the pipeline project, which could draw attention from giant multinational energy companies. The pipeline also represents an important portion of Morocco’s recent investment in sub-Saharan Africa after the country rejoined the African Union in 2017.

The gas pipeline will ultimately link Nigerian gas to “every coastal country in West Africa.” These countries consist of “Togo, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Senegal and Mauritania.” The pipeline will end in Tangiers, Morocco and Cádiz, Spain. The pipeline will be 3,517 miles long. The construction will be divided into multiple phases and will take around 25 years to complete.

Agricultural Partnership

The Morocco-Nigeria partnership exceeded expectations after the two countries agreed to launch a new agricultural project. The Moroccan OCP Group, a state-owned mining and fertilizer producer, will establish a fertilizer factory in Nigeria amounting to $1.3 billion. Several key facts outline the agricultural partnership.

  • The project was launched in June 2018 and the factory is anticipated to open its doors in 2024.
  • Utilizing Nigerian gas and Moroccan phosphate, the factory will produce 750,000 tons of ammonia annually by 2025.
  • Similarly, the factory will manufacture one million tons of phosphate fertilizers a year by 2025.
  • Affordable and customized fertilizer aims to improve agriculture in Nigeria in order to improve food security.
  • The OCP Group will offer agricultural training to Nigerian farmers and encourage digitalization in farming.

Finance Partnership

The Morocco-Nigeria partnership is also helping banks from both countries expand in the region. The Nigerian Bank of Africa (UBA) and Morocco’s Attijariwafa Bank signed an agreement in 2016 to reinforce their cooperation in banking, finance, investment and trade. Both the Nigerian president and the Moroccan king were present at the signing as well as the CEOs of both banks.

The UBA exists in 19 African countries, making it one of the most dominant banks in Africa. The agreement covers finance projects, trade and investment between the two countries. The Nigerian UBA Chairman Tony Elumelu said, “This collaborative effort is a historical milestone.” He added, “We see huge potential in bringing our collective expertise in banking to provide Africa-led solutions to the needs of Africans.”

Security Partnership

In terms of security and fighting terrorism in the region, Morocco cooperates with the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) in Nigeria. In April 2021, high-profile representatives from Morocco met with CEN-SAD in Nigeria to talk about different plans to fight terrorism. The three-day gathering focused mainly on the progress CEN-SAD had accomplished in fighting terrorist groups.

The two parties also shared their expertise for future collaborative exercises and proposed new approaches for areas damaged by terrorism. The Moroccan representative party presented counterterrorism methods that Morocco has recently applied in its own region. The two parties also discussed forming a state-run entity to advance the collaboration between Morocco “and the members of the region’s counterterrorism operations.”

The Morocco-Nigeria partnership illustrates the strength in collaboration and cooperation between countries. With more countries coming together for mutual benefit, the power of partnership can advance progress on global issues.

– Zineb Williams
Photo: Flickr

Malaria in NigeriaAccording to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.” In 2019, nearly half of the world’s population was at risk of malaria exposure. Despite being preventable and curable, there were still a staggering 229 million global cases and 409,000 malaria-related deaths. With a population of around 201 million people at the time, Nigeria accounted for 23% of those deaths. Children under 5 are especially vulnerable and constituted 67% of all malaria deaths in 2019. Though malaria is present in various tropical areas around the world, Africa accounts for 94% of malaria cases and deaths, with Nigeria maintaining the highest percentage of both.

GBCHealth

GBCHealth is a partnership of companies and organizations that invest resources into improving global health. The nonprofit encourages its network to use its power and resources to progress the health of society and achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in innovative ways.

One of the organization’s initiatives to eliminate malaria is the implementation of the Corporate Alliance on Malaria in Africa (CAMA). CAMA serves as a platform for African corporations to share successful approaches, create new alliances, gain visibility and advocate for malaria control and prevention across Africa. The initiative also acts as a networking forum for businesses to engage and develop relations with key government and civil society stakeholders whose focus is combating malaria. GBCHealth stated that “CAMA companies both lead and support innovative malaria prevention, control and treatment activities and collectively deploy millions of dollars to programs that serve the needs of malaria-affected people and communities.”

Status of Malaria

Despite the improvements in malaria control over the past decade, long-term success in reaching the WHO Global Technical Strategy goals for Malaria 2016-2030 is still far off. The 2020 World Malaria Report stressed that countries in Africa continue to struggle to make significant or consistent gains in the fight against malaria. In 2006, Marathon Oil launched CAMA in Nigeria with members such as Chevron, Access Bank, ExxonMobil, The Aliko Dangote Foundation and Vestergaard. The alliance works with global partners, including The Roll Back Malaria Partnership and The Global Fund, to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Together, these organizations are making strides in the fight against malaria.

CAMA Strategic Plan

CAMA’s 2021-2023 Strategic Plan aims to improve awareness and scale up prevention efforts through private sector initiatives. The End Malaria Project, a major initiative under the new strategic plan, will increase private sector resources in Nigeria and then expand to other high-burden countries, rescuing 50,000 lives in Africa. The project will further the government’s efforts in achieving a malaria-free Nigeria by 2023 and channel private sector resources and capabilities into reducing the incidence and prevalence of malaria in the most endemic communities in Nigeria.

Although malaria has presented a significant challenge to Nigeria, the country is benefiting from the work of GBCHealth. Through its efforts, Nigeria is well on its way to becoming free of malaria.

– Nelia Blackman
Photo: Flickr

Nigerian InfrastructureNigeria is located in West Africa and shares a border with Niger to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the south. The hundreds of different languages spoken in the country characterize its diverse population. The country benefits from a relatively large population and economy but it still has a high poverty rate. Reducing the poverty rate will require better Nigerian infrastructure that will expand the economy to reach the countries rural population.

4 Facts About Nigerian Infrastructure

  1. A public-private partnership is the core strategy. The government has acknowledged the importance of private sector help to reduce the infrastructure deficit which has been a thorn in the side of an economy that shows immense potential. The Nigerian vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, clearly outlined what the government believes the role of the private sector should be as it pertains to improving Nigerian infrastructure. He pointed out that the private sector, which accounts for 92% of the country’s GDP compared to the public sector accounting for a mere 8% of the GDP, shows the limits of public expenditures and budgetary allocations. Osinbajo says it could require $3 trillion over 30 years in infrastructure investment to resolve the infrastructure deficit. Osinbajo included that the country would see a lot of benefit from large investments from the private sector whether it be from local or foreign resources.
  2. The president is promoting private investment in infrastructure. President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria recently approved the creation of a new development firm called Infra-Co, which will be backed by an infrastructure fund worth $2.63 billion. The hope is to improve the transportation and power networks that have held back the 40% of Nigerians living below the poverty line — a staggering number for a country that boasts the biggest economy and population in Africa. It has been reported that KPMG will serve as the transactional advisor to the fund which further legitimizes the government’s plan to boost Nigerian infrastructure through partnership with the private sector.
  3. Nigeria is investing heavily in railway construction. The construction of the Lagos-Ibadan rail created history in West Africa as being the first double-track standard gauge rail in the region. The Lagos-Calabar railway is another large project costing $11 billion and running 1,400 kilometers long, which connects the western and eastern parts of the country.
  4. Other key infrastructure projects. Other infrastructure projects in Nigeria include the World Trade Centre, the Lekki Free Trade Zone and the Abuja Gateway Airport. The World Trade Centre and Lekki Free Trade Zone will create more business opportunities for foreign and local investors and increase tourism and entertainment. It will also boost commercial and residential real estate development. The Abuja Gateway Airport will be an architecturally appealing addition to the Abuja Airport. Its design will include features that symbolize the countries diverse culture. The use of solar power, green roofs and locally made laterite clay will help contribute to an environmentally friendly and modern design. All three of these projects seem to be an attempt to bring about more economic opportunities by making Nigeria’s richest cities more welcoming and luxurious for foreign investors.

The increased business opportunities created by the heavy investments in Nigerian infrastructure will significantly help the economy. The railways will allow more Nigerians across the country to work better jobs in wealthier cities such as Lekki city. But, the infrastructure spending still needs to expand to the country’s rural parts so that every Nigerian can be involved in the rapidly growing economy. Nevertheless, Nigeria is making developmental strides and its rapid economic progress should be viewed as a success.

Stephen Blake Illes
Photo: Flickr

Branch App The world of financial technology has a lot to offer low- and middle-income countries. Financial technology is essential to accelerate poverty reduction and enhance the growth and development of developing nations. One such innovation in financial technology is a mobile lending app called Branch. The Branch app has tapped into Africa’s emerging markets and the results are inspiring.

The Branch App

Branch offers mobile financial services that are accessible via smartphone. The advantage of this technology is that the app bypasses some of the restrictions that come with traditional institutions. Branch’s goal is to make money lending and credit building opportunities accessible to all people, which the company believes will “open new channels for personal empowerment and financial growth.”

Currently, Branch serves Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and India. Its user demographic targets members of the middle class in areas with emerging markets. Branch recognizes that people in these areas are often underserved and is dedicated to servicing them with customer-first products.

The People Behind the Project

Matt Flannery and Daniel Jung co-founded Branch in 2015. Flannery, the CEO, previously developed and led Kiva, a nonprofit microfinancing company. Flannery then set out to create a “branchless bank” for Africa, resulting in a financial app that would provide accessible services to low- and middle-income customers. Flannery is a Skoll Awardee and Ashoka Fellow, making him a highly acclaimed social entrepreneur. He was also part of Fortune magazine’s “Top 40 under 40” list in 2009.

Recently, in March 2021, Branch added a new member to its team: Dayo Ademola, who will oversee Branch’s Nigeria operations. Ademola has more than 15 years of experience working with consumer-centric companies and banking institutions. She has former experience with global fintech and much of her efforts in the field have been toward improving financial inclusion in Nigeria. Ademola is particularly excited about continuing this mission and working with Branch to help Nigerians simplify their relationship with finances. Fortunately, Branch provides a successful avenue to do that.

Branch’s Success

Since its launch in 2015, Branch has made significant advancements toward improving banking accessibility in Africa. Since its establishment, Branch has facilitated $350 million in loans. This is a significant accomplishment since Branch operates in countries with new markets and limited resources. Fintech investments in Nigeria have grown nearly 200% in the past three years, showing that these emerging markets are increasingly recognized as valuable.

Flannery and others see the African markets for the significant opportunities they present. Fintechs, especially those with a background in social entrepreneurship, have the power to transform African markets and improve social and economic stability in these countries. As it stands, Branch has more than four million customers and has issued more than 21 million loans in the countries it operates in. If the  Branch app continues to spread across Africa and other developing nations, Branch has the potential to vastly improve financial inclusivity and lift millions of people out of poverty by providing financial solutions that cater to those with minimal resources.

Samantha Silveira
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in Nigeria
With more than 80 million citizens living without electricity, renewable energy in Nigeria helps fight energy poverty. Demand for electricity rose throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but the country’s notoriously unreliable energy grid struggled to accommodate the strains of remote work. The Nigerian government’s new Economic Sustainability Plan solves this problem and promises to deliver renewable energy to 25 million Nigerians.

The Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) is Nigeria’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The country first passed it in July 2020 and it outlines 12 months of government spending in the 2021 fiscal year. The government created this plan to stimulate the Nigerian economy through strategic investments in sectors that it hopes will bring the most lasting growth. This is why Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil and gas producer, is choosing to invest in renewable energy. Here are five ways this plan helps to reduce poverty in Nigeria.

5 Ways the Economic Sustainability Plan Reduces Poverty in Nigeria

  1.  Powering Businesses and Homes: The World Bank estimates that Nigeria loses $26.2 billion in economic production due to insufficient electrification. Renewable energy in Nigeria has the potential to change that. Off-grid sources in particular, such as solar panels that directly power homes and businesses, circumvent the frequent power outages that plague Nigeria’s energy grid. The Economic Sustainability Plan helps promote off-grid renewable energy in Nigeria by committing $619 million to the installation of new solar panels directly onto homes that do not currently have a connection to the power grid. The government is also providing subsidies for private firms in the solar industry to encourage even more off-grid solar energy. Not only will this plan give new electricity access to millions of Nigerians, but the government hopes more jobs in the renewable energy sector will give citizens permanent paths out of poverty.
  2. Reducing Dangerous Power Sources: The Economic Sustainability Plan replaces household power sources that endanger Nigerian homes with more efficient renewable solutions. Many who remain disconnected from the energy grid in Nigeria rely on kerosene lanterns for light, which poses toxicity and fire risk to those families. With a plan to install solar in more than 5 million homes, the Economic Sustainability Plan provides safer ways to lift Nigerians out of energy poverty.
  3. Creating Jobs: Nigeria’s plan creates 250,000 new jobs in the booming energy sector to grow the country’s economy. Not only will renewable energy in Nigeria empower communities that do not have access to the energy grid, but this plan stimulates the domestic manufacturing industry. These jobs have the potential to pull thousands of Nigerians out of poverty.
  4. Growing International Partnerships: While the Economic Sustainability Plan focuses on improving the lives of Nigerians, the formulation of the plan strengthens Nigeria’s ties to the international community. Approximately 15% of the funding for this plan comes from external sources, primarily from the World Bank. Making use of foreign aid strengthens the ties that the Nigerian economy has with international partners and generates more opportunities for future projects that help battle global poverty. An example of this is the States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) program that Nigeria signed with the World Bank. This program gave $750 million in credits to Nigerian states in 2018, and now the federal government is encouraging states to negotiate additional funding from the World Bank to supplement the Economic Sustainability Plan in 2021 using the guidelines of the SFTAS.
  5. COVID-19 Economic Recovery: Due to the country’s dependence on oil and gas exports, the pandemic severely weakened Nigeria’s economy. The Brookings Institute estimates that the oil sector alone accounts for half of all government revenue in Nigeria, but the impact of COVID-19 led to an approximately 30% drop in oil prices. This means that Nigeria’s oil GDP has consistently declined over the past year, leading to significant damage to the Nigerian economy overall. The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic requires the Nigerian government to stimulate the economy. Part of the Economic Sustainability Plan targets assistance to renewable energy companies in hopes that the Nigerian economy will become less dependent on oil. Low-interest government loans, equipment financing and revenue-based repayment plans will grow the industry and contribute to the broader Nigerian economy.

Looking Ahead

Renewable energy in Nigeria provides a foundation for economic growth that includes underserved parts of the country. The Economic Sustainability Plan capitalizes on this potential and expands energy access, jobs and economic recovery with the power of renewables. Nigerians who could not benefit from the economic advantages of electricity access due to systematic exclusion from the grid should be able to leave poverty as a result.

– Viola Chow
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Lolo Cynthia
Period poverty means a woman or girl is unable to afford period products. In the African continent, more than 800 million women and girls menstruate each day, but 500 million of those women do not have access to sanitary pads. As a result, in some places in the world, girls manage their periods with used rags, sand, tree bark and other unsanitary practices, leading to reproductive or urinary tract infections. This issue is prevalent in Nigeria as well, although public health specialist Lolo Cynthia is making a difference by providing health education to girls and helping them make their own cloth pads.

Period Poverty in Nigeria

Period poverty is a global issue that greatly impacts women in Nigeria, where women receive heavy taxes on menstrual products. A pack of sanitary pads costs $1.30. However, 44% of Nigerians live in extreme poverty and earn less than $1.90 per day. Inability to pay for sanitary pads places strain on finances and the physical and mental health of Nigerian women. This, in turn, leads to high anxiety and stress during menstruation.

Period Poverty in Nigerian Schools

According to the United Nations Children Fund, many schoolgirls in Nigeria view menstruation as a secretive and shameful experience. They associate it with experiencing anxiety, abdominal pain, cramps, nausea and vomiting, impacting their school work. One in 10 girls in Nigeria miss school due to their periods, and Nigeria’s conservative approach to menstruation discourages conversations about improving this issue.

Lolo Cynthia

A public health specialist named Lolo Cynthia, who taught 250 girls in southwest Nigeria how to make their own reusable menstrual pads from linens and cloth at a summer camp, is combatting the issue. Lolo Cynthia was born and raised in Lagos and later moved to South Africa to continue her studies. She earned degrees from Monash University at the age of 19 in public health and sciences and HIV/AIDS and health management. Lolo then worked at Nigeria’s Rave TV, where she discussed politics and lifestyles. Later, she worked on a documentary focusing on street children’s lives, drug abuse and other issues impacting women in Nigeria.

Lolo always had a passion for sexual health and social inequality, and she reveals these passions through her work on LoloTalks and MyBodyIsMine. Lolo’s efforts, which receive support from the first lady of Nigeria’s Ondo state Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, allow her to work with LoloTalks to discuss menstruation and sexual health. While she was hosting her podcast and working on LoloTalks and education program, MyBodyIsMine, she also started the NoDayOff campaign. It distributed 1,000 pads to women and girls in Lagos. Through this campaign, she quickly realized the need for a more sustainable option for women to use during menstruation. Lolo’s eco-friendly pads create an opportunity for women to control their periods and sexual health sustainably.

Benefits of Cloth Pads

Nigerian girls learning the skills to make their own pads can benefit their sexual health. Moreover, it can help them prepare for menstruation every month. The benefits of pads are:

  1. They are Affordable: Using cloth pads is very beneficial, especially when fighting against period poverty. Cloth pads are more affordable and can last for up to five years or longer than other types of pads and menstrual products.
  2. Cloth Pads are Better for the Body: Most disposable pads comprise harmful chemicals. These chemicals can negatively impact the sensitive area of the body where women place them. Cloth pads involve safe material that is chemical-free.
  3. Cloth Pads Increase Preparation: Using cloth pads also guarantees that women are ready for their cycle. Additionally, it reduces the chances that women and girls will reuse pads and tampons, which can pose health risks.

Lolo Cynthia’s work has received global recognition and may have an impact on how Nigeria approaches women’s bodies and health. The fight to reduce period poverty in Nigeria is only beginning.

Nyelah Mitchell
Photo: Flickr

Tourism-Economies
Everyone loves a good vacation or at least it is easy to think that while walking on a white-sand beach and sipping a Mai Tai. The truth lurking behind the tranquility of remote island temples and the prestige of historical landmarks is that tourist economies are not all sunshine and smooth sailing. With off-seasons that take up a large portion of the year and uncertain demand, tourism-economies may be more vulnerable to pitfalls than industrial or agriculture-based economies. The following countries exemplify the great promise and instability of tourism-economies.

Indonesia

Tourism in Indonesia is one of the main draws for foreign currency. In 2018, the number of people coming in from outside of Indonesia rose 12.6% to about 15.8 million. One of the biggest draws in tourism is culture. Countries that do well in tourism carry significant cultural influence in the area or have notable landmarks. For example, the world fetes Italy for its long history, art and cuisine. Meanwhile, statistics have shown that Indonesia underperforms in this sector compared to other countries in the region. Singapore, for example, draws in about 19 million people per year.

Bangladesh

Bangladesh is rapidly developing and this is an overall plus for the economy. However, it could bring a slight hiccup in the years to come. The nation’s main source of income, its textile industry, faces an imminent, irreversible decline with its graduation in development stages. Tourism could be Bangladesh’s biggest hope, with the industry contributing 10.4% to the global GDP. However, tourism only comprised 4.4% of Bangladesh’s GDP as of 2018, painting a bleak picture for the future of tourism. The country has been performing second to least successfully concerning popular destinations in Asia.

What might help is how well South Asia has been performing in tourism. Nations that have performed well in this area, like India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam, drew in 86% of the region’s total earnings in 2018 – a high Bangladesh was able to ride on the coattails of, as it attempted to market itself as a more desirable tourist destination. In recent years, Southeast and Southern Asia have demonstrated success in tourism, with respective 8% and 10% rates of growth.

One factor that greatly affects tourism is the visa facilities in a country. If tourists find the entry process to be too much of a hassle, they may be less inclined to vacation there. In India, a top-performing country in tourism, most of the world can easily obtain an e-Visa. In Bangladesh, however, in order for a person to gain a visa, many of their neighbors need to secure a visa beforehand. This further hampers an already struggling tourism industry.

Nigeria

Some have long thought of Nigeria as having great tourism potential, although obstacles in economic development stand in the way of meeting this full potential. Countries also have accommodation rates to take into account with tourism economies. Too steep a price may turn travelers off while not charging enough will undercut the profit potential of having a tourism economy to begin with. Since not all currencies convert equally, tourism-economies do well when they draw tourists from places with currencies that are more valuable to them. For example, Nigeria has this advantage over the U.S., with $1 being equal to 381.25 Nigerian Nairas. The average hotel rate in the U.S. was $131.21 per night as of 2019, while in Nigeria, the daily rate averaged anywhere in-between the equivalent of $27 and $128.

Relative Problems

Where tourism differs from other income-generating industries is that demand is less certain. If there is a use for a product, then a demand exists, and if there is a demand, then a country can profit by supplying for that demand. However, with tourism-economies, the “use” that creates demand is fickle, and as such, the success of the country “filling the supply” is less secure.

When the culture cannot compete, visas are too difficult to secure and prices just are not right, it does not just mean that the economy slows. People working in tourism potentially cannot generate an income, even if they can technically perform their jobs correctly. Travel trends and off seasons are out of the control of the low-to-middle income people working in the industry. For those already in a precarious financial situation, finding financial growth and stability in a tourism economy is incredibly difficult. In the past year, the global COVID-19 pandemic has also created further problems for the tourism industry.

Barefoot College International

With COVID-19, travel restrictions and business shutdowns, the tourism industry is all but entirely gone in most countries. As the earning potential of a tourism economy is insecure, some organizations strive to help populations attain more secure means of income. Barefoot College operates in more than 90 countries and is expanding across Africa, Latin America and South Asia.

Barefoot College has a variety of boots-on-the-ground efforts to help impoverished communities, including clean water and environmentally conscious health initiatives. It also has a strong education program that provides academic and practical skills that can help people increase their earning potential and make it easier for them to get jobs. Its focus is on digital education so that its work is accessible for people anywhere in the world.

After 40 years, 75,000 children have received an education, 65% of whom have been girls. From here, 40% of the children educated through Barefoot College have been able to enter their country’s mainstream education system. Of those educated through Barefoot College, 30% went on to become employed at jobs that required literacy. After graduating, 85% of those considering migrating decided to stay in their village to use their acquired knowledge and skills there.

While tourism-economies can be very profitable, changing factors such as a global pandemic cause many of these economies to be unstable. Organizations like Barefoot College help provide much-needed stability to tourism-economies. Moving forward, it is essential that more organizations work to find long-term economic solutions for countries that rely heavily on the tourism industry to help ensure a stable economic future.

Catherine Lin
Photo: Flickr

Economic Growth in NigeriaNigeria boasts a population of more than 200 million people who are religiously diverse and rapidly growing. The country houses the largest economy on the African continent. It depends heavily on oil production and oil exports, which comprise 80% of its national revenue. In 2015, the Nigerian economy grew at half the rate of the previous decade due to the global oil price recession. The government acknowledges the necessity of a comprehensive plan for sustainable economic growth in Nigeria.

President Buhari

Despite the Human Rights Watch’s claims of human rights abuses, fighting between the government and terrorist group, Boko Haram, as well corruption both within the government and the oil industry, Nigeria is a rapidly growing and dynamic nation. In 2015, a peaceful transfer of power from incumbent Goodluck Jonathan to Muhammadu Buhari took place after a competitive election. President Buhari is a former military head of state and has made vows to improve the living standards of Nigerians. Furthermore, he wants to fight corruption and boost the economy both through the oil industry and outside of it.

Diversifying and Boosting Nigeria’s Economy

A report put out by the International Finance Corporation and the World Bank found that private sector growth strategies could help Nigeria by attracting outside investment and creating more quality jobs for millions of its citizens. The report states that this strategy will require better policy frameworks and reforms to support sectors outside of the oil industry. Nigeria has pledged to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty by 2030, which is becoming increasingly challenging with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This report highlights a hopeful investment strategy that can help foster economic growth in Nigeria.

Nigeria experienced 11 straight quarters of GDP growth since its recession ended, but growth has stalled given the COVID-19 pandemic. President Buhari has set out to diversify the nation’s economic strategy and has focused on agriculture to achieve the poverty reduction goal. In addition to the agricultural industry, President Buhari has sought to revamp the cotton, tactile and garment industry. Furthermore, the nation has focused its efforts on increasing non-oil exports such as cocoa and sesame seeds. Revenue from these exports grew by $79.4 million and $153 million respectively. These examples serve to show the promise of diversifying and strengthening the Nigerian economy amid unstable times.

The Potential of Agriculture

President Buhari met with the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) and stated that his administration is committed to implementing “rapid, sustained, sustainable and inclusive economic growth.” President Buhari focused again on agriculture-based strategies and the utilization of more land throughout the country. Nigeria currently only irrigates about 2% of its land, indicating significant room for agricultural development. Buhari says that raising agricultural productivity is vital to address the disparities between regions and “ensure macro-economic stability.”

The PEAC has pledged to help Nigeria with an approach to eradicating poverty that will be multi-dimensional, focusing on aspects such as access to housing, health, education and employment. President Buhari vowed his commitment to reducing poverty in Nigeria but collaboration from all levels will ensure a comprehensive and effective national response.

Tatiana Nelson
Photo: Flickr

CRISPRMalaria is one of the main diseases that has claimed the lives of many Nigerians. Due to population, social and climate conditions, malaria in Nigeria has been difficult to manage and control. Furthermore, it has been challenging to arrive at a permanent solution. However, CRISPR Therapeutics is working to create a gene-based solution that will reduce the spread of malaria, saving the lives of many.

What is Malaria?

Malaria is a dangerous and potentially fatal disease. It is spread by a parasite that commonly infects a specific type of mosquito, primarily found in sub-Saharan Africa. When mosquitoes feed off humans, malaria is spread. Malaria is not contagious but one can obtain the disease if traveling to a malaria-riddled country. Although malaria is considered deadly, malaria-related deaths can usually be prevented. Because malaria results in widespread sickness and death, it has a severe impact on many national economies. Since many countries with malaria are usually lower-income nations, the disease creates a vicious cycle of sickness and impoverishment.

There are four types of parasites that have the potential to infect humans, Plasmodium falciparum is the kind that if not immediately treated, can lead to death. People who have low immunity to malaria, such as young children, pregnant women or travelers coming from areas with no malaria, are at the highest risk of a case of fatal malaria. In addition, impoverished people with inadequate access to proper healthcare are also at risk. Bearing in mind these factors, an estimated 90% of deaths due to malaria occur in Africa and most of these deaths are children under 5. More than one million people die from malaria each year and 300-600 million people annually suffer from it, making it a significant barrier to development.

Malaria in Nigeria

According to the 2019 World Malaria Report, Nigeria held the record for most cases of malaria in 2018 as 25% of global malaria cases were in Nigeria. Moreover, in 2018, the country held the highest number of global malaria deaths at 24%.

The entire country of Nigeria is at risk of malaria because roughly 76% of Nigerians are located in high transmission areas. Malaria is more contagious in the tropical south as the season can last year long. However, in the north, malaria season lasts at most three months. Studies show that children living in rural areas and low socioeconomic classes are most prone to malaria.

The global community has funded Nigeria’s government well to fight its malaria crisis. For example, the government has received funding for malaria control from the Global Fund. It has negotiated additional loans from the World Bank, the Islamic Development Bank and the African Development Bank. Nigeria also receives assistance from the USAID President’s Malaria Initiative.

CRISPR and Gene Editing

CRISPR Therapeutics strives to create therapies treating malaria, cancer, diabetes and other serious diseases through CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing. CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing is the process by which DNA is edited by precisely cutting DNA and allowing natural DNA repair processes to take command. Corrected genes or newly introduced genes, can help bring immunity to malaria. CRISPR also has the potential to alleviate global poverty and improve conditions in sub-Saharan Africa.

CRISPR and Malaria

To solve the malaria crisis, scientists are considering CRISPR technology to explore the possibility of genetic modification within mosquitoes. This could include eradicating the malaria gene within mosquitoes or simply shrinking their population. Using CRISPR/Cas9 technology, the goal is to control the spread of malaria. Why target the mosquitoes? With international travel and climate change, the disease has spread internationally. Scientists have concluded that the best route to eradicate malaria is to attack the mosquito instead of the parasite.

CRISPR technology applications for malaria could potentially change malaria control strategies. Rather than simply trying to treat the people affected by malaria, with CRISPR technology, the disease could be completely eradicated. Africa will benefit the most from this potential application. CRISPR technology could potentially eradicate malaria, thus reducing the impact on people’s health and on the economy as well. Overall, CRISPR technology can break the cycle of poverty in Africa.

Ella Kaplun
Photo: pixabay

Women in NigeriaDespite the United Nations’ global commitment to improve the health of pregnant mothers and reduce maternal death, the loss of women’s lives as a result of complications during pregnancy has been on the increase in most sub-Saharan African countries. In Nigeria, there are 59,000 maternal deaths annually. Compared to those in advanced nations, women in Nigeria are 500 times more likely to lose their lives in childbirth. At 545 per 100,000 births, maternity care for women in Nigeria is the worst in all of Africa. This means that out of every 20 live births in Nigeria, there will be at least one case of maternal mortality.

Maternal Death Leads to Poverty

In Nigeria, a high percentage of pregnant women do not receive adequate healthcare. This is either because their community does not offer services or because the women cannot afford healthcare. Many pregnant women in Nigeria do not seek care because they fear that the services are not high quality. In addition, the country’s patriarchal society and suppression of females can keep a pregnant woman from receiving adequate care. Cultural issues, lack of education and poverty can influence the healthcare choices of many pregnant women.

The toll on a family is enormous if a mother dies during childbirth. A mother’s death can force a family deeper into poverty and cause the daughters to be taken out of school to care for the other children and the household. For these young girls, the death of a mother perpetuates a cycle of poverty that can be hard to escape.

The difference in maternal death rates between the wealthy and the poverty-stricken is the largest among all of the health indicators tracked by the World Health Organization. Yet, mortality can be reduced by 80% with better access to reproductive health services along with high-quality care and skilled providers.

High-Quality Maternal Care for Nigerian Women

After losing a friend during childbirth, Michael Iyanro, a social entrepreneur and healthcare development expert, wanted to do something to ensure that top-quality maternity care for women in Nigeria was accessible to all.

He and other concerned individuals founded Tomike Health to address the problem. The organization launches clinics that provide high-quality maternal healthcare at affordable rates across neighborhoods in Nigeria. Tomike Health prioritizes the low-income residential areas on the outskirts of cities. These are the fastest-growing population centers as people migrate from rural areas to seek work. Tomike Health centers serve women who are often the primary breadwinners in their families.

Clinical Innovations

Rather than relying on donations and grants, the organization’s founders wanted their operation to be self-sustainable. To meet this goal, Tomike Health has combined job training and business expertise with clinical innovations. This approach creates self-sustaining solutions for maternity care. Its partners include Easier Health Consult, the Almonsour Women Foundation and the Gender Development Initiative. The organization and its healthcare providers continue to work hard to reduce maternal mortality rates in Nigeria, saving women’s lives and keeping their children from descending into poverty.

Sarah Betuel
Photo: Flickr