West Africa sub-region target 2050 to achieve vehicle fuel economy

With the global car fleet due to triple by 2050 and greenhouse gas emissions from transport growing faster than any other sector, West African states have set sights on 2050 to phase out dirty and inefficient fuel.

Bernard Koffi of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) disclosed this today at the ongoing African clean mobility week taking in Nairobi, Kenya.

West Africa is believed to be Africa’s sub-region with the least fuel efficiency and economy levels as 80% of the vehicles across the sub-region are used vehicles while 72% of the vehicles used in ECOWAS countries are imported.

The challenges of attaining fuel efficiency and economy in West Africa, according to Koffi include absence of policies and strong fiscal measures against the importation of vehicles that are over the age limit; and high age limits for the importation of used vehicles. Age limit for the importation of used light duty vehicles (LDVs) in most West African states hover between 8-15 years.

Other extant challenges include poor fuel quality, and road congestion leading to high carbon emissions.

These challenges notwithstanding, ECOWAS is confident of achieving fuel efficiency and economy at least by 50% by the year 2050 through the implementation of its Air Quality Agreement signed by ECOWAS ministers in 2009, and the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of all ECOWAS member states to the Paris agreement.

Mr. Koffi believes that the sub-region can achieve the target even before the target year by harmonising carbon emission standards and fuel specification, promoting clean vehicles and fuel economy, and strengthening institutional and regulatory frameworks on fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

“An example of these measures is the recent ban placed on the importation of dirty diesel by five West African countries” he said.

It would be recalled that Benin, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Togo in 2016 announced measures to end the practice of European oil firms and traders who export to Africa, highly polluting fuels (derogatorily dubbed “African quality”) that could never be sold in Europe.

Effective 1st July 2017, the five West African states banned the importation of high-sulphur diesel fuels making the permitted levels of sulphur in imported diesel to fall from as high as 3,000 parts per million (ppm) to 50ppm. Meanwhile, Europe since 2009 fixed the maximum permitted level at 10ppm.

Speaking at the African clean mobility week, Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) commended the ban by the west African states.

“West Africa has sent a strong message that it is no longer accepting dirty fuels from Europe. Their decision to set strict standards for cleaner, safer fuels and advanced vehicle emission standards shows they are placing the health of their people first” Solheim said..


Expelled Russian diplomats leave London embassy

People carrying luggage leave the Russian Embassy in London on March 20, 2018 and board a van bearing diplomatic plates. Dozens of people including adults with children arrived at the Russian embassy on March 20 morning and then left carrying luggage in vehicles bearing diplomactic registration plates. Britain last week announced the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats over the spy poisoning row, prompting a tit-for-tat response from Moscow. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS

Russian diplomats expelled from Britain in the worsening spat over the poisoning of a former double agent left the London embassy on Tuesday with their families in tow.

Britain has thrown out Russian 23 diplomats over the March 4 nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in an English town.

People hugged outside the embassy before boarding a waiting fleet of diplomatic vehicles. Around 80 people in total were thought to be leaving.

The expulsion came as British police said the investigation into the poisoning could take months to complete, while Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson accused Russia of “trying to conceal the needle of truth in a haystack of lies”.

The first offensive use of chemical weapons in Europe since World War II has plunged relations between Moscow and London into crisis.

Britain says only Russia had the capability, motive and intent to be behind the attack, which used the nerve agent Novichok reportedly developed by the former Soviet Union. Russia denies any responsibility.

The British police investigation is ploughing through 4,000 hours of security camera footage, said counter-terror chief Neil Basu.

It is one of the largest and most complex investigations ever undertaken by British counter-terror policing.

“It’s painstaking work,” Basu told the BBC.

“Our focus is on the movements of the Skripals.”

Around 250 detectives are examining 400 witness statements and nearly 800 items that have been seized.

EU leaders planning response
EU leaders plan to say they will “coordinate on the consequences” for Russia but will stop short of mentioning sanctions or other diplomatic measures, according to a draft summit statement seen by AFP.

The 28 leaders meeting in Brussels on Thursday will base their response on what answers Moscow provides, the draft says.

The statement says the European Union “condemns in the strongest possible terms” the attack.

Meanwhile EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker on Tuesday urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to help “re-establish” continental security cooperation following his re-election.

Last week, Britain, France, Germany and the United States issued a joint statement blaming Russia for the attack.

Skripal, 66, a former Russian officer who sold secrets to Britain and moved there in a 2010 spy swap, remains in a coma along with his 33-year-old daughter after they were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury, England.

Investigators from the international Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) arrived in Britain on Monday to collect samples of the nerve agent.

Testing in international laboratories is expected to take at least two weeks.

Chemist’s Novichok claim
Also on Tuesday, a Russian scientist told state media that he worked on an official programme to produce Novichok, contradicting Moscow’s claims it never developed the nerve agent.

Leonid Rink, who told RIA Novosti he worked on a state-backed programme up to the early 1990s, added that the Skripals would be dead had Moscow been involved in his poisoning.

“They are still alive. That means that either it was not the Novichok system at all, or it was badly concocted, carelessly applied,” he said.

Rink said he worked with a large group of specialists at a state laboratory in the closed town of Shikhan for 27 years, where the development of Novichok formed the basis of his doctoral dissertation.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov last week said Moscow never had any programmes to develop the chemical weapon.

Russia’s foreign ministry told AFP on Tuesday this remained its position.

Britain’s Johnson said the “obvious Russian-ness of the weapon” was “designed to send a signal to anyone pondering dissent”.

“The message is clear: we will hunt you down, we will find you and we will kill you — and though we will scornfully deny our guilt, the world will know that Russia did it,” he wrote in The Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Meanwhile Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe voiced his “outrage” over the attack and urged Moscow to respond in a serious manner, in a phone call with British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Abe “condemned the incident” and said Japan “shared our outrage” according to a spokesman for May’s Downing Street office.

They agreed that Russia “must respond in a serious manner, including by cooperating fully with the OPCW investigation”.

Taraba Police arrest 13-man robbery syndicate

The Taraba State police command, on Tuesday, paraded a 13-man armed robbery syndicate that specialises in terrorising business owners and homes within the Jalingo metropolis.

The command’s Public Relations Officer, ASP David Misal, who paraded the criminals and weapons recovered from them, said that the gang was headed by Usman Bello who hails from Gombe State.

Misal disclosed that “The suspects had, on March 10th, criminally conspired and broke into a boutique where they carted away valuables.

“Investigation reveal that the gang is responsible for most of the house breaking and other criminal activities in the state where they seem to target businesses specially and also homes”.

Similarly, the PPRO disclosed that the command has arrested eighteen kidnapping suspects comprising of four gangs, who operates by calling up their victims and demanding ransoms with threat of kidnapping, should they fail to pay.

Misal also said that most of the victims had paid various sums of money amounting to over a Million Naira before they were arrested based on reliable intelligence.

Misal who disclosed that the suspects would be charged to court on completion of investigation, advised the public to be forthcoming with information that would help security agencies rid the state of all criminal elements.

We report that various arms and ammunitions and charms recovered from the suspects were put on display.

NAF training aircraft force lands in Kaduna

A Nigerian Air Force (NAF) student pilot yesterday force landed a Diamond 40 Trainer Aircraft on the outskirts of Kaduna, while on a solo mission.

NAF’s Director, Public Relations and Information, Air Vice Marshal Olatokunbo Adesanya, disclosed this in a statement, yesterday.

The solo mission, according to Adesanya, was part of flying training at the 401 Flying Training School, Kaduna.

Adesanya said the incident was as a result of an airborne emergency that could not enable the pilot fly the aircraft back to base.

“The student pilot, therefore, force landed the aircraft but with minimal damage to it” and added that “the student pilot, who was the only one on board, suffered minor injuries. He is receiving treatment at the 461 Nigerian Air Force Hospital, Kaduna.

The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has immediately directed the constitution of a board of inquiry to determine the exact cause of the incident while efforts are ongoing to recover the aircraft,” he said.

Cross-border Trade: FG signs treaty on roads

The Federal Government has already signed a treaty which will preserve the quality of Nigerian roads and transportation infrastructure, by regulating the quantity of goods a vehicle can put on an axle within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and beyond.

Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, disclosed this at a one-day public enlightenment on developments in the road sector, which held at the Nigeria Air Force Conference Centre in Abuja, yesterday.

President Muhammadu Buhari was represented on the occasion by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha.

Said Fashola: “Our economic growth, national productivity and job opportunities will be impacted by the conclusions and resolutions of this meeting.

“For example, how do we optimise the opportunities that lie in road networks like trans-saharan highway that connects Nigeria to Chad, Niger, Tunisia, Mali and Algeria; the Lagos-Abidjan Highway through Benin, Togo and Ghana, or the Enugu-Cameroon Highway through Abakaliki–Ogoja, Ikom and Mfum?
“For the benefit of those who may be unaware, there are now existing treaty obligations within the West African sub-region and beyond, that regulate the amount of load any goods vehicle can put on an axle and, by extension, on the road, in order to do business within ECOWAS and beyond.

“I must thank you Mr. President, for finally signing the instruments of ratification as soon as it was brought to his attention, after many years of delay, prior to his tenure.

Our compliance with these regulations will open a massive door of opportunity and prosperity of cross-border trade to Nigerians engaged in the transport business.

This was why this meeting was convened because when president Buhari once said that ‘we will change our habits and we will change Nigeria,’ I believe this was one of the things he had in mind.

While it is true that we could have done better by way of massive investment in our transport infrastructure, during the windfall of income from oil, this government is now rapidly and aggressively addressing road transport infrastructure repairs, rehabilitation and construction, as many of you who travel regularly will attest.

“There is no state in Nigeria, today, where you will not see our contractors busy at work. The crux of this meeting is to first acknowledge the president is only one man who cannot be everywhere and, secondly, to recognise that we are the actors of the change that is required to take us to prosperity and thirdly, to recognise that the way we use the roads, when finally completed, will determine how long they last and whether they deliver prosperity or not.

“All over the world, one common thread of prosperous societies is their level of compliance with laws and regulations. So, in those societies, you will see trucks parked in proper parks which create jobs, and not on the highways, which impede access and opportunity.

In those societies, you will see trucks carrying specified tonnage of cargo because it protects the road, and allows for it to be used again and again.
Therefore, while the temptation to overload and carry more with one truck, against regulation and good practice may be appealing, it is ultimately a barrier to prosperity.

“Such practices may provide cheap and perhaps, corrupt riches and income, but, they do more damage to the roads from which the cheap income is made.”

Cultists attack corp members’ lodge in Bayelsa

Less than 72 hours after adequate security was promised by the Bayelsa State Government for corp members in the state, suspected cultists, over the weekend, attacked a Corpers’ Lodge at Angalabiri community of Sagbama Local Government Area of the state.

Recently, the state’s Coordinator of NYSC, Mrs. Loto Bolade, had pleaded with corps members’ employers to put adequate security arrangements in place for the welfare of the corps members.

During the attack, the suspected cultists, reportedly armed with machetes, severed the hand of a corps member identified as Luntis Julius from Taraba State.

The suspected cultists also went away with valuables including a Laptop, two mobile phones and cash belonging to the corps members.

A corps member, who pleaded anonymity because the management of NYSC had reportedly barred them from talking, lamented that the security promised them in Bayelsa State was not forthcoming.

“Most of the Corpers’ Lodges, especially in rural areas, are at the mercy of armed hoodlums and thieves. Sometimes, female corps members are harassed on daily basis. We have reported severally and we have been promised adequate security which I am sorry to say is non-existence”

Recalled that Mrs. Bolade had stated that cases of armed robbery and other crimes in corps lodges in their host communities can be traced to the nature of accommodation they are given which is unfortunate.

Sokoto to disburse N2bn to SMEs – Tambuwal

The Sokoto State Government is planning to disburse about N2 billion to medium and small scale enterprises in the state.

This was disclosed by Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, on Monday, at the commissioning of the Nigeria Agribusiness and Agro-Industry Development Initiative (NAADI) zonal office. The zonal office would cover Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Niger and Kwara states.

Governor Tambuwal said the fund was a counterpart contribution between the State Government and Bank of Industry (BoI), adding that it would go a long way in energising the industrial and agricultural sectors of the state.

Represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Bashir Garba, Governor Tambuwal also revealed the plan to domesticate the federal government ease of doing business in the state as to attract potential investors.

He commended the Federal Government for the initiative meant to put the Nigerian economy in the right path.

“This effort will promote public/private partnership, provide technical assistant ND financial syndication within the agricultural sector for industrial development. We will work closely with NAADI on all identified sectors for the mutual benefit of our people,” he said

In her remark, Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Aishat Abubakar, said NAADI was developed in line with the Nigeria Industrial Revolution plan as an integrated approach to developing agro-industry together with agribusiness as the key to economic growth.

She regretted that the Nigerian economy relies so much on imported manufactured goods including food and beverages among others, costing the country scarce foreign exchange annually.

She said that the initiative would focus on food, beverages industry, textile and garment, leather and leather products as well as inspection services go foster sustained poverty reduction, human capital development and productive and profitable value chain.

Also speaking, the Director, Commodities and Products Inspectorate of the Ministry, Mrs. O. B. Ope-Ewe said Sokoto State has all it takes to turn around the nation’s economy.