Sterling Bank, Lagos, FG partner on free Wi-Fi at airport - PUNCH
BY Nike Popoola
Sterling Bank Plc says it has collaborated with the Lagos State Port Health Authority and the Federal Ministry of Aviation to install free Wi-Fi connection and additional air conditioning units for arriving passengers at the arrival terminals D and E of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport.
A statement on Friday from the Divisional Head, Health and Education Sectors, Sterling Bank, Mr Obinna Ukachukwu, said this was part of its continuous support to tame the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
It said, “The installations are to welcome arriving travellers comfortably and allow passengers easily book the necessary COVID-19 tests on arrival from the comfort of their devices.
“This is in conjunction with the Lagos State Port Health Authority, Lagos State Ministry of Health and with the blessing of the Federal Ministry of Aviation.”
According to the statement, the bank continues to play a significant part in the nation’s efforts to combat the scourge of the pandemic by making it easy for inbound passengers to connect to tech-focused solutions needed to book tests upon arrival and also to keep the economy open.
Ukachukwu said multiple projects and investments had been made by the bank at various times in the fight against the virus because of its commitment to the prioritisation of health among its social investment programmes.
The Commissioner of Health Lagos State, Prof. Akin Abayomi, was quoted as saying the collaboration would go a long way to improve the booking experience for post-arrival testing and improve the state’s overall test numbers by simultaneously providing arriving passengers fast connection to book tests, and address the delays such passengers used to encounter upon entry at the airport.
He called on other private sector operators to collaborate with the federal and state governments in a bid to effectively tame the COVID-19 pandemic.
The statement said the Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Rabiu Yadudu, welcomed the development as a step in the right direction as Nigeria’s international travel sector recovered from the impact of the pandemic.
He lauded the efforts of the nation’s port health authorities and the private sector in creating a standard that would ensure passengers arrive into the country in relative comfort and can gain access to qualitative testing facilities on demand and help in managing the pandemic.
Qatar Airways launches Kano, Port Harcourt operations - THE GUARDIAN
By Guardian Nigeria
Qatar Airways is boosting its service to Nigeria with the launch of four weekly flights to Kano and three weekly flights to Port Harcourt (PHC) from March 2022.
The airline currently operates two daily flights to Lagos and four times a week to Abuja, which will expand to a daily service in March.
Kano and Port Harcourt will become the seventh and eighth new African gateways launched by Qatar Airways since the start of the pandemic. Both routes will be served by the state-of-the-art Boeing 787 Dreamliner, featuring 22 seats in Business Class and 232 in Economy Class.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker, said the airline was one of the few to keep operating to many African destinations throughout the pandemic and, as restrictions are lifted, is continuing to expand its network on the continent.
“As home to the largest economy and population in the region, we see tremendous growth potential for travel and trade in Nigeria. It is a key market and an important part of our African growth strategy; the expansion of our presence across two new gateways is a testament to our continuous commitment to Nigeria.
“We anticipate good reciprocal demand between Port Harcourt, UK, United States and destinations across Asia. For Kano, we see the opportunity to grow traffic to and from markets such as Saudi Arabia and India, as well as strong cargo prospects.”
As travel restrictions ease, Qatar Airways is restoring its services to all its African destinations. With Kano and Port Harcourt flights starting operation, the airline will provide 188 weekly flights to 28 destinations in Africa.
Qatar Airways’ African customers will also benefit from generous baggage allowances, which provide for up to 46kg in Economy Class, split over two pieces and 64kg split over two pieces in Business Class.
Nigeria Sees the Biggest Increase in the 2021 UK Approved Study Visas - ABC MONEY
There has been a significant increase in the number of people seeking to migrate to the UK from Nigeria in the past few years. Last year marked a pleasant turnaround for many Nigerians wishing to study in the UK as the British government issued a record number of study visas to applicants from across the world.
In 2021 ( for the year ending in September), 428,428 sponsored study visas were awarded to both international students and their dependents. Compared with the past two years, this implies:
- 143% (252,327) more than the year ending September 2020
- 55% (152,077) more than the year ending September 2019
- It is also a 29% rise compared to 10 years ago, in June 2010, when there were 307,744 issued study visas
Nigerian Students Record an All-time High
Among the biggest beneficiaries of this spike in issued UK are Nigerian students, as the numbers are particularly high compared to 2019. As stated in the end-of-year report, Nigerian nationals were awarded a total of 36,783 visas, a 368% increase or 28,923 more visas from the year 2019. Only two countries got more visas than Nigeria.
At the end of the year in 2019 and 2020, Nigerians only received 7,860 and 8,229 sponsored study visas, respectively. Dependants are also huge beneficiaries of the rise in UK Student visas. 10% of the 36,783 visas were issued to dependents.
This development presents hope to UK educators who have in the past few years lost hold in the Nigerian market to countries like the United States, Canada, Ghana, and South Africa in the past 10 years. Total enrolments of Nigerian students in UK universities fell to 10,540 in 2017-18 from 18,020 in 2013-14, according to a 2021 Carnegie Empowerment for Peace report.
According to the report, most Nigerian students consider ease of visa application and affordability when deciding on where to study. The UK may be losing out to countries with a more welcoming environment or because UK school tuition fees were fast becoming unaffordable for Nigerian middle-class families.
The decline, however, also relates to Nigeria’s GDP growth and the recession from 2014 to 2016. Nevertheless, the recent spike shows that more and more Nigerian students may choose to study in the UK in the coming years.
Aside from Nigeria, other countries with major increases in visa approvals include the United States, Pakistan, China, and India. Chinese students were issued more than 135,450 visas, and for India, the numbers went from 30,490 in 2019 to 90,970.
Pakistan nationals recorded a 270% increase from 4,015 visas in 2020 to 14,845 in 2021. For the United States, the numbers went from 8,638 in 2020 to 15,330 in 2021.
Interestingly, the number of visas to fellow EU countries saw a significant decrease despite the massive increase for non-EU countries. The UK government granted a total of 428,428 visas in 2021and EU/EEA students received just about 9%. This comes after Brexit as, before 2021, EU nationals didn’t need visas to enter the UK.
More Opportunities with the New Graduate Visa Route
For Nigerian students, one of the most important factors in deciding where to study abroad is the availability of post-graduation employment. As a result, the UK government’s recent introduction of a Graduate Visa in July 2021 may contribute to the increase in enrolments from Nigeria.
With a Graduate Visa, international students can stay in the UK for at least 2 years after finishing their bachelor’s or master’s degree programme. Doctoral graduates can stay in the UK for an extra year (3 years). This gives them time to work or look for a job.
The Graduate Visa is a non-renewable visa. However, if a person gets a job and wishes to remain in the UK, they can apply for and obtain UK work visas. Notably, they can switch to a Skilled Worker visa that lasts for up to 5 years before renewal. They are also eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK. After obtaining ILR, they can stay in the UK permanently and apply for British citizenship after 12 months on ILR.
U.K. Property Asking Prices Increase at Quickest Pace Since 2016 - BLOOMBERG
Asking prices for U.K. homes rose at the fastest annual rate in almost six years as the number of available properties dropped to a record low.
Online property portal Rightmove Plc said the price that sellers sought in January was 7.6% higher than a year earlier at 341,019 pounds ($467,000), the strongest growth since May 2016. Compared with December, the average price rose 0.3%.
Britain’s housing market continues to boom despite the end of a temporary tax break last year and an interest-rate increase in December, propped up by a chronic shortage of properties on offer and mortgage costs near a record low.
“Prices are likely to continue to rise until more choice is available,” Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property data, said in a statement released Monday. “It’s clear that the trends which defined the market in 2021 have carried over into this year.”
There were signs that bottlenecks in the supply of new homes have begun to ease, however. The first working week of 2022 was “the busiest start of the year ever” for homeowners preparing to sell. The number of valuation requests was 44% above January 2021 levels and 48% above January 2020, before the pandemic struck.
For now, strong demand is colliding with historically low supplies of properties on the market. There was a 15% increase in enquiries from prospective buyers, and the number of homes on the books of each agent fell to an average of 12, a new record low.
The Bank of England’s decision to lift the benchmark interest rate from 0.15% to 0.25% appears to have had little impact so far. A separate survey published on Saturday by OnTheMarket, a rival property portal, found that optimism continues “unabated” with three quarters of buyers confident of making a purchase in the next three months.
However, it warned that “over the coming months house price growth may start to tail off” as more properties come onto the market and buyers respond to increasing mortgage rates.
The jump in average asking prices in January was driven by the most expensive homes and properties targeted at first-time buyers, which hit record levels, according to Rightmove.
London asking prices fell 1.2% last month. That left the annual pace of growth in the capital at 4.2%, the slowest of any region except for Scotland.
UAE Says Explosion in Abu Dhabi Possibly Caused by Drone Strike - BLOOMBERG
(Bloomberg) -- Abu Dhabi police said a fire at its main airport and explosions with three fuel trucks were possibly caused by drones, in what would be a highly unusual strike against targets in the United Arab Emirates.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels said they were responsible for the attacks.
A preliminary investigation indicates small flying objects, likely drones, fell in both areas and may have triggered the blasts, which didn’t cause any casualties, the UAE’s state-run WAM news agency reported.
The UAE has fought alongside Saudi Arabia in a coalition against the Houthis in Yemen’s civil war. The UAE has intensified its air campaign against Houthi targets in Yemen in recent weeks, which the Iran-backed group said it would retaliate against.
Britons Shop For Spanish Second Homes Again as Covid Rules Ease - BLOOMBERG
BY Bloomberg News,
Britons are on the hunt for homes in sunnier spots again in light of easing travel restrictions.
U.K. homebuilder Taylor Wimpey Plc sold 13% more second homes in Spain in 2021 compared to the previous year, the firm said in a trading update on Monday. The order book for homes in the country has also grown, up to 324 at the end of the year, compared with just 126 a year earlier.
“The anticipated gradual easing of travel restrictions, allowing prospective second home buyers to travel to Spain, has resulted in an increased level of demand,” the homebuilder said in the statement, selling 215 homes in 2021.
The figures come as the U.K. scales back coranavirus testing requirements for travel, boosting interest in long-haul flights after the spread of the omicron variant sparked a wave of travel restrictions at the end of last year.
The average selling price for the properties was 417,000 euros ($476,631), up from an average 375,000 euros in 2020, according to the report.
Air Peace Approves Priority Boarding Policy For Nigerian Military Personnel - INDEPENDENT
LAGOS – Air Peace, has unveiled Priority Boarding Policy for serving and retired Nigeria’s military personnel.
The airline in a statement said that the approval was to honour the military personnel for the huge sacrifices they make to ensure peace, safety and security in the country.
Mr. Allen Onyema, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Air Peace in a statement over the weekend, said that the airline holds in high regard the indispensable contributions of the military in securing Nigeria and defending its territory from external aggression.
Onyema maintained that the uniformed men and women put their lives on the line in the course of defending the state and its interests against external armed threats, stressing that the new policy of boarding military personnel first before other passengers commenced last Wednesday.
He maintained that this would be a permanent practice in all its stations.
He said: “This Priority Boarding Policy we are introducing is our own way of appreciating and recognising the noble and patriotic efforts of the officers and men of Nigeria’s Armed Forces, for the risks they take and all the sacrifices they make in defending the territorial integrity of this country. Our ground staff have also been enjoined to appreciate them.”
Onyema appealed to other passengers to show understanding and cooperate with the airline’s ground personnel to ensure a seamless implementation of the new policy, and called on other applicable businesses to adopt a similar policy in honour of the Nigerian military.
‘Unhinged’: Real estate prices in Canada shoot up as supply hits all-time low - YAHOO FINANCE
Canadian real estate prices broke a 21-year record in 2021 as the supply of homes for sale hit an all-time low.
The Canadian Real Estate Association says prices were up 26.6 per cent nationally year over year in December, 2.5 per cent month over month.
Ontario was up around 30 per cent year over year. Prices in the Greater Toronto Area mounted a comeback after lagging other parts of the province that were less well known before the extraordinary run-up in prices drove more home-seekers outside major urban centres.
Rising prices in Ontario are nothing new, but even New Brunswick was up 30 per cent year over year, led by Greater Moncton.
British Columbia prices were up more than 25 per cent.
Sales were down 9.9 per cent year over year and basically flat month-over-month.
The number of newly listed homes fell 3.2 per cent month over month. The sales-to-new-listings ratio tightened to 79.7 per cent; the long-term average is 54.9 per cent. There were 1.6 months of inventory at the end of December 2021, the lowest level ever..
Canadian real estate in 2022
“With the housing supply issues facing the country having only gotten worse to start 2022, take any decline in sales early in the year with a grain of salt because the demand hasn’t gone away, there just won’t be much to buy until a little later in spring,” said Cliff Stevenson, Chair of CREA.
“But when those listings eventually start to show up, the spring market this year will almost certainly be another headline grabber.”
Cailey Heaps, President & CEO, Heaps Estrin Team says buyers were giving up at the end of the year but are ready to try again.
“Every indication is that 2022 is off to a strong start. My feeling is that the sellers who choose to list in the first quarter of 2022 will be met with enthusiasm from the market, and will be rewarded accordingly,” said Heaps.
BMO senior economist Robert Kavcic says 2021 was the year Canadian real estate “became unhinged.” He expects the Bank of Canada will act in 2022.
“Expectations and investor appetite took over Canadian housing in 2021. We know it, and policymakers now know it too,” said Kavcic.
“Look for 100 bps of tightening by the Bank of Canada this year to help clean out some of the froth.”
Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains.
UAE Capital Abu Dhabi Makes Booster Shots Mandatory for Entry - BLOOMBERG
(Bloomberg) -- The oil-rich capital of the United Arab Emirates has made booster doses mandatory for entry as the Gulf nation battles a renewed surge of infections driven by the omicron variant.
Starting this week, people traveling to Abu Dhabi will need to have booster doses to enter unless exempted by the authorities. The latest move comes just weeks after the emirate said vaccinated individuals will require a green status on a mobile health app to enter. That green status will now only appear following a booster dose.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the latest requirement also applies to neighboring Dubai, which has generally had fewer restrictions through the pandemic.
Cases have surged in the UAE since the omicron variant was first reported in December. The country reported 2,792 cases on Tuesday.
Before the new variant emerged, the country had managed to keep cases under control for most of this year. De facto ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan declared the crisis over in October as infections fell below 100 a day for the first time since the pandemic began.
So far, the UAE has managed to avoid restrictions, unlike most major cities around the world. Speaking on Bloomberg TV last week, Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani Al-Zeyoudi last week ruled out a full lockdown.
Staying open has attracted a variety of business and sporting events to the UAE, helping fuel a faster-than-expected economic recovery, especially in the trade and tourism hub of Dubai -- currently host to Expo 2020.
The UAE has one of the world’s highest rates of vaccination, and has administered booster doses to about 42% of its population of 10 million. The country also has one of the highest per capita testing rates in the world, with just under half a million tests administered over the past day.
Tesla travels 1,200km on a single charge with breakthrough battery -
A Tesla vehicle equipped with a next-generation battery was able to travel more than 1,200km (750 miles) on a single charge.
The first road test of the Gemini battery, developed by Detroit-based startup Our Next Energy (ONE), achieved nearly double the typical range that a standard Tesla Model S is able to achieve, and more than the highest range of any mass-produced gasoline-powered vehicles.
Travelling across Michigan, the results “set a new benchmark for the entire automotive industry”, according to ONE founder and CEO Mujeeb Ijaz.
“We want to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles by eliminating range anxiety, which holds back most consumers today,” he said.
“We are now focussed on evolving this proof-of-concept battery into a new product called GeminiTM, which will enable long distance trips on a single charge while improving cost and safety using sustainable materials.”
The proof-of-concept solves the issue of range anxiety with electric vehicles, which until now has been addressed through making charging stations more ubiquitous. This comes with its own issues however, most notably the length of time it takes to recharge an electric car compared to refilling a fuel-powered vehicle.
The battery used in the ONE prototype is an innovative lithium iron phosphate design, which the company hopes will be used in commercial trucks later this year.
The technology was presented at the CES 2022 tech conference in Las Vegas earlier this month, where several other companies and startups displayed ambitious battery life designs.
Mercedes promised a 965km range for its Vision EQXX prototype vehicle, while HyperX’s wireless gaming headphones boasted of a 300-hour charge cycle – a 10-fold improvement on standard wireless headsets.
Energy density limitations of lithium-ion batteries, which are found in most consumer technology products, have been augmented by new anodes and ultra-efficient processors, but researchers are now looking to next-generation batteries like lithium-sulfur.
So far, any breakthroughs with these new battery types are yet to make it out of the lab, but are could one day replace their conventional counterparts due to their vastly superior capacity and improved environmental credentials.