News Roundup: Nigeria out of recession, New WTO head, NAFDAC approves vaccine for use, Bitcoin surge, inflation…

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News Roundup
Nigeria’s economy limps out of recession in Q4
Nigeria Unexpectedly limped out of recession in the fourth quarter of 2020 beating projections from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, both of which predicted Africa’s biggest economy to exit recession in 2021. Real GDP grew 0.11 percent in the fourth quarter after contracting 6 percent and 3 percent in the second and third quarter of 2020. Resilient sectors such as telecommunications, financial, broadcasting helped lift the country out of recession.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala makes history as she becomes the first woman and first African to head WTO
After a tough electoral process, Okonjo-Iweala has charted a new course for the World Trade Organisation by becoming the first woman and first African to head the organisation after 73 years. Okonjo-Iweala was the first female Finance Minister and the first female Foreign Affairs Minister in Nigeria. She is also the first female and black candidate to contest for the presidency of the World Bank Group in 2012. She says her vision is to rejuvenate and strengthen WTO despite several issues that have fractured the organisation.
World Bank appoints an African, Makhtar Diop as IFC’s managing director and executive vice president
World Bank Group President, David Malpass, has announced the appointment of a Senegalese, Makhtar Diop as Managing Director and Executive Vice President to head the International Finance Corporation (IFC) with effect from March 1, 2021. The IFC is an arm of the World Bank Group that advances economic development and improves the lives of people by encouraging the growth of the private sector in developing countries. According to a statement released by the World Bank, “His skills at IFC will help the WBG continue our rapid response to the global crisis and help build a green, resilient, inclusive recovery.”
NAFDAC approves Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for use in Nigeria
As Nigeria continues to battle the second wave of the pandemic, The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has approved use of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines in Nigeria, following the World Health Organisation (WHO) authorisation of emergency use. According to the Director-General of NAFDAC, there are three additional vaccines undergoing evaluation, but the evaluation on Astrazeneca shows that the vaccine is effective against the UK variant of the virus which has been reported in Nigeria. However, health experts have warned that the launch of the vaccination process can neither be considered the end of the pandemic in Nigeria nor a reason to let down guards of non-pharmaceutical measures that have been adopted so far.
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Nigeria’s January inflation rate jumps to 16.47% on rising food cost
Nigeria’s inflation has been rising for 17 straight months to hit 16.47 percent in January 2021 from 15.75 percent in December 2020. Food inflation which contributes more than 50 percent also rose to 20.57 percent in January 2021 compared to 19.56 percent in December 2020, on a year-on-year basis. This signals the hardship Nigerians are reeling from at a time when the poverty rate and the unemployment rate is at their highest in the country.
Davido, Nse Ufot, five other Nigerians made the 2021 list for Time100 Next
TIME magazine has officially published its 2021 list of “100 Next” rising stars and it highlights some of Nigeria’s stars like Davido, Nse Ufot, Olugbenga Agboola, Feyikemi ‘FK’ Abudu, Odunayo Eweniyi, Ijeoma Oluo and Damilola Odufuwa. 100 Next is a new list part of an ongoing expansion of our flagship TIME 100 franchise that spotlights 100 rising stars who are shaping the future of business, entertainment, sports, politics, science, health and more. Other Africans on the list include Omar Tate, Amoako Boafo (Ghana), Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr (Sierra Leone) and Vanessa Nakate (Kenya).
Zimbabwe receives 200,000 doses of Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccines
A plane carrying Zimbabwe’s first coronavirus vaccines, 200,000 doses donated by China, arrived in the capital Harare. The country has so far reported close to 35,000 confirmed cases of the virus and nearly 1,400 deaths. In future plans, the country plans to get another 600,000 doses from China which will arrive in early March. Zimbabwe’s Vice President Constantino Chiwenga says frontline health workers would be the first to be vaccinated.
Bitcoin just surged to an all-time high of nearly $50,000
The world’s largest cryptocurrency by market value surged to an all-time high of $49,951 on Monday, just inches away from the $50,000 level. The digital coin experienced a boost after large firms like Tesla, Mastercard and BNY Mellon began warming up to cryptocurrencies. Tesla revealed that it bought $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin and would soon start to accept payments in the digital coin. Mastercard also revealed that it would support certain cryptocurrencies later in the year.
Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe herd becomes youngest self-made billionaire after IPO
Whitney Wolfe Herd, the co-founder of the dating app Bumble, became the youngest self-made female billionaire in the world. According to Forbes, at market close Thursday night, Wolfe Herd’s net worth was at $1.5 billion. Wolfe Herd founded Bumble in 2014 as a dating app geared toward making women feel comfortable. Like Tinder, the app is location-based, but the difference is that on Bumble, in heterosexual matches, only the woman can choose to make first contact. Wolfe Herd founded the company shortly after she sued her former employer, Tinder, for sexual harassment.
Jack Dorsey, Jay Z invest $23.6m to fund bitcoin development in Africa
Nigeria’s central bank (CBN) has so far been reluctant to embrace crypto as it recently placed a ban on exchanges dealing with Nigerian banks for both deposits and withdrawals but Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey and rapper Jay Z have created an endowment to fund bitcoin development initially in Africa and India. Dorsey and Jay Z will both put 500 bitcoins, which is currently worth $23.6 million, in the endowment called ₿trust. The fund will be set up as a blind irrevocable trust in the currency.
Interswitch launches Quickteller business to support growth of SMEs in Africa.
Interswitch Group, Africa’s leading technology-driven company focused on the digitization of payments in Africa announced the launch of Quickteller Business, a new comprehensive corporate solution focused on empowering businesses of all sizes to facilitate payments and manage transactions from anywhere in the world, through one, simple integrated platform. This would be done by leveraging quickteller’s significant existing customer base with over five million consumers already using quickteller for a variety of retail payments in countries such as Nigeria, Kenya and Gambia.

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