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CSCS, others collaborate on cyber security

By Chris Ndibe 

Mr Haruna Jalo-Waziri, Chief Executive Officer, Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS), says cyber-security is a collective effort, and everyone must play their roles to preserve the integrity and sanctity of the financial market. 

He spoke on Monday at a webinar on “Cyber Security and Information During the Pandemic”, organised by the CSCS, Nigeria’s capital market infrastructure. 

Financial market stakeholders, including bankers and capital market operators, shared ideas on innovative measures for preventing cybercrimes at the webinar. 

Jalo-Waziri said that eradicating cybercrimes required collaborative effort. 

According to him, the pandemic and its attendant remote connections occasioned by business continuity and work-from-home protocols have increased exposures to cyber-security risks. 

He said that some businesses may also have suffered colossal losses due to cyber attacks since the pandemic. 

“More than ever, cyber-attacks are like a double whammy at this challenging time when businesses are re-strategising to adapt to the new normal and ensure sustainability,” he said. 

Mr Femi Onifade, the Chief Strategy Officer, CSCS, said that a breach on a market operator’s system could inadvertently expose the  entire system. 

This, he said, reinforced why all must collaborate to prevent any vulnerabilities in the financial system. 

He said that all participants and stakeholders must take active and effective measures in ensuring and sustaining cyber-resilience. 

Mr Bharat Soni, Chief Information Security Officer, GTBank Plc, said the new work culture had expanded remote activities and cloud capabilities to an unprecedented level. 

He said this had made businesses more vulnerable to cyber-attacks such as online scams and phishing, disruptive malware, malicious domains amongst others. 

Soni said that due to this, the use of strong authentication for accessing networks would no longer be an option but a necessity. 

According to Soni, awareness of the new realities of safe cyber practices needs to be communicated to employees, partners and customers. 

He said this was necessary so that they could remain aware of the evolving cyber threat and how to best protect themselves and their organisations. 

Mr Ikechukwu Ugoji, Chief Information Security Officer, Interswitch Limited, said that over 90 per cent of breaches were facilitated by phishing emails or social engineering attacks. 

He said that every employee is a first-line of defence against incoming threats and employees must be made to understand their vital roles and responsibility in protecting the organization. 

On his part, Mr Tobe Nnadozie, Divisional Head, Technology and Innovations, CSCS, noted that the pattern of spending on cyber-security showed that organisations were taking steps to protect their systems. 

“Organisations are making relevant investments to protect their systems and broader market, albeit sadly, lack of vigilance is the leading cause of breaches,” he said. 

AfDB partners with AGRF to ensure food security

By Moses Uwagbale

The African Development Bank (AfDB) is in partnership with African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) is to promote policies aimed at ensuring food security in the continent.

Mrs Wambui Gichuri, AfDB’s Acting Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, said this in a statement in Abuja.

Gichuri said the partnership had become imperative because of the need to prioritise policy support in the light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“As COVID-19 causes disruptions across Africa, we must prioritise policy support, especially for small and medium enterprises that produce, process and market 60 per cent of food consumed on the continent.

“We need to enhance movement of inputs and food, increase production of, and access to, healthy and nutritious foods, establish food security task forces in countries, as well as strengthen regional organisation capacity to monitor multi-country initiatives.

“AGRF is the platform to move these policy conversations forward,” she said, and added that “the acting vice-president will lead the Bank’s ‘digital delegation’ to AGRF.”

The statement said the delegation included Atsuko Toda, the bank’s Director for Agricultural Finance and Rural Development, and Martin Fregene, the bank’s Director for Agriculture and Agro-industry.

Others included Esther Dassanou, Coordinator of the Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for the Women of Africa initiative (AFAWA), and Edson Mpyisi, Coordinator of the Bank’s Enable Youth programme.

According to the statement, the delegation will take part in nine AGRF sessions.

Gichuri is scheduled to deliver remarks during a nutrition-themed plenary entitled “Building Back Better – Growing the Continent”.

“This policy symposium is expected to discuss the UN’s State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, the ongoing pandemic, and feeding the continent,” the statement added.

It said that Toda would moderate a bank-organised AGRF side event tagged “Integrating African Food Systems through the Lens of SME Champions”.

The session is expected to amplify the voices of small and medium enterprises in the production, processing, logistics and cold chain solutions sub-sectors.

“Feeding Africa’s growing population is not just about producing more food. It is also about getting food to people who need it most.

“We support entrepreneurs along food system value chains helping to make that happen,” Toda said.

It said Fregene would be a panelist at an AGRF pre-event, “Scaling Up”, and was expected to speak during another pre-event session, “Agriculture Technologies for Feeding Cities AGRF.

“Agriculture and strengthening food systems are cornerstones of Africa’s plan to build back better coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“AGRF online will convene the most senior decision-makers of governments in the same digital space as grassroots players along the agricultural value chain – we at the Bank are proud to be part of it,” said Fregene.

According to the statement, Mpyisi will help judge the AGRF Agripreneur Competition finale parallel session.

It adds that “the competition brings together young entrepreneurs, innovators and movers and shakers” in Africa’s agri-food sector.

“He is also expected to serve as a panelist on the ‘Strengthening the Ecosystem for Young African Agripreneurs’ session.”

It said the session would look at action plans on how to better serve the needs of young agripreneurs.

Meanwhile, AFAWA Coordinator, Dassanou, would join a panel of experts to discuss “Making the Most of Gender-Based Financing”

The session will focus on the methods needed to identify and fund women entrepreneurs who were part of the hidden middle that linked farmers to the value-added processing, retailing and food service sectors in urban centers across the continent.

According to the statement, AGRF is Africa’s largest agriculture conference which will be streamed live online for the first time between Sept. 8 and Sept. 11, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tenth annual AGRF will be attended by African Heads of State and Government, and would bring together delegates from governments, civil society, the private sector and research communities.

AGRF 2020 is hosted by the Government of Rwanda and the AGRF Partners Group, organised under the theme “Feed the Cities, Grow the Continent. Leveraging Urban Food Markets to Achieve Sustainable Food Systems in Africa”.

Germany sceptical about sanctions on Russia

By Reuters

German Economy Minister, Peter Altmaier, has questioned whether imposing sanctions on countries like Russia are effective.

This is coming as a debate rages over whether to suspend the Nord Stream-2 pipeline from Russia to Germany over the poisoning of a Kremlin critic.

Speaking on an ARD talk show, Altmaier condemned the poisoning of Alexei Navalny as a “cowardly assassination attempt on a Russian citizen in Russia’’ and said the circumstances must be cleared up.

He did not rule out imposing sanctions at some point in the future, but added he believed keeping open communication lines can sometimes be more effective.

“We need to clarify what we are trying to achieve with our sanctions.

“Is it just a matter of looking in the mirror or is it something positive for human rights?’’ he said late on Monday evening.

From his experience in politics, sanctions often lead to a “hardening of politics”, Altmaier added.

“I don’t know of any case where a country like Russia, or a similar country, has been moved by sanctions to change its behaviour in the past.’’

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is under mounting pressure from members of her conservative party to suspend the Nord Stream-2 pipeline, a huge project to double Russian gas exports to Germany that is more than 90 per cent complete and due to start operating from early 2021.

On Monday, her spokesman said she did not rule out imposing sanctions.

But the head of the German Eastern Business Association told Deutschlandfunk radio on Tuesday it would be almost impossible to halt the project from a legal perspective.

“Legally, I think that is hardly possible.

“All permits have been granted, the contracts are watertight – not only in Germany, but also in five countries plus under European regulations,’’ Michael Harms said.

€5bn EU’s green plan fund for Sub-Saharan Africa

By Tanko Mohammed

Sub-Saharan Africa would benefit five billion euros from the European Union (EU) Green Economy Recovery Plan, an EU official has said.

Mr Leonard Mizzi, Head of Unit, European Commission, Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, said this at the ongoing 2020 virtual summit of the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) hosted by Rwanda.

Speaking at a panel discussion tagged “The Key Role of SMEs in Serving Urban Food Markets”, Mizzi said the fund set aside for sub-Saharan Africa is part of the EU’s seven-year green plan from 2021 to 2027.

The head of unit, who also specialises in Rural Development, Food Security and Nutrition, emphasised that the fund would be used to address water, health, sanitation and social economy.

Mizzi said, “In a team of European context, which is the full firepower of the European Commission, all EU member states, the EU Investment Bank (EIB) and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), member states mobilised 11 billion euros; European Commission mobilised 14 billion euros; EIB mobilised 14.5 billion euros; and EBRD mobilised 4 billion euros.

“Sub-Saharan Africa will benefit around five billion euros. The money is a composite amount for emergency, humanitarian with a focus on saving lives but it was also made to address water, health, sanitation and social economy.”

He, however, said that the region must demonstrate economic recovery strategies in line with the EU’s green recovery plan to access the fund which is targeted at the African Continental Free Trade Area.

He further said that sub-Saharan nations should focus on developing local and regional markets and bridging infrastructure gaps.

Mizzi added that the region should also ensure harmonised standards of products and trade operation, identify opportunities for SMEs and address issues of food fortification in the region.

“The EU since April, is providing fiscal space through budget support and budget support modalities.

“We inject fiscal space so that African countries mobilise support which would also include loans for local companies and SMEs, and also support agro-food companies,” Mizzi noted.

He said that the ACFTA was a continental-driven agenda the EU would want high quality products for its trade partners, which includes basic food safety and standards setting.

Mizzi said:“Figures show Europe remains an important market and we will like to be a key partner in the international trade.

“The key aspect of COVID-19 shows that we need to focus more on local and regional markets.

“You can’t expect good flow of goods from countries to sub-Saharan or within the region if you have problems around road logistics, cargo logistics and port logistics.

“This is key because Africa’s urban population cannot support major infrastructure gaps if it is not addressed.”

Mizzi further emphasised the need for harmonised standards at all agricultural value chains and trade sectors in the continent.

He said this would be in addition to scaling up training at the primary, secondary and vocational levels.

Mizzi said, “We want to continue the support of the rescaling of laboratories, research in African universities and post-university researches.”

He stressed that supporting academic and post-university research would ensure Africa’s non-dependency on foreign expertise.

Furthermore, he urged SMEs “to link into tertiary institutions, researches and public policies to support climate-change driven and innovative value chains transformative process”.

Nigeria, Korea move to deepen ties in shipping

By Moses Uwagbale

Dr Bashir Jamoh, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), has said Nigeria and South Korea have agreed to intensify collaboration in trade and shipping.

Jamoh made this known in a statement signed by Mr Philip Kyanet, Head, Corporate Communications, NIMASA.

The statement was on a meeting Jamoh held with the Counsul General, Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Nigeria, Kim In-Taek.

Jamoh said that both countries had maintained good maritime and trade relations since the 1980s.

He said that both had agreed on the need to expand the relationship in line with global economic dynamics.

The director-general said that development of Nigeria’s maritime potential was a critical element of President Muhammadu Buhari’s economic diversification agenda.

He said that the Republic of Korea was an important partner in the effort to harness the enormous treasures of Nigeria’s marine environment.

“There is a great deal of interest in harnessing our rich maritime resources and potential as new sources of government revenue under the Nigerian government’s economic diversification drive, and we see South Korea as very important here.

“We have been together on trade, power, and energy and now we are discussing on possible areas of cooperation in terms of ship repairs and ship recycling and we agreed that we will continue to improve on trade cooperation.”

“To consolidate on the already existing relationship and increase our trade and maritime cooperation, we hinted on the need for more effort from both countries,” he said.

The director-general reiterated that shipping development was part of his administration’s three-point agenda, which also include maritime safety and maritime security.

In his own remarks, In-Taek described NIMASA as a very important organisation, adding that Korea was willing to develop a good relationship with the Nigerian maritime sector.

“Nigeria has the potential because it is a leading country, not only in the shipping area, but also in other businesses in Africa.

“Nigeria has a big economy, with the population as an added advantage in the continent, hence, the Koreans can do business with Nigeria successfully,” he said.

In-Taek, who is nearing the end of his two-year tenure in Nigeria, thanked the Korean authorities for giving him the opportunity to serve in Nigeria.

He called on the NIMASA director-he neral to extend the cooperation accorded him to his successor.

Korea is a leading shipbuilder in the world, accounting for nearly 40 per cent of global ship orders.