Travel News

Airlines Demand Virus-Busting Seats to Ease Covid Deep Cleaning - BLOOMBERG

SEPTEMBER 28, 2021

BY  Tara PatelBloomberg News

(Bloomberg) -- Demand for airplane-seat coverings that repel viruses and bacteria has soared during the Covid-19 pandemic, as carriers look to cut the time and cost of cleaning cabins. 

“The stakes are high for airlines,” said Quentin Munier, head of strategy and innovation at the seat division of aircraft-parts giant Safran SA. Tenders for new orders increasingly call for fabrics with virus-killing properties, he said.

The airline industry has been among the hardest hit by Covid-19 and most carriers have adopted strict health protocols on mask-wearing and cabin cleaning to cut transmission, reassure passengers and revive travel. Industry lobby International Air Transport Association has published a 32-page document on how to scrub the inside of aircraft.

“Airlines are cleaning now, but that’s what they want to reduce,” Munier said. A carrier that managed eight daily rotations on a given route before the pandemic can now do only six because of time-consuming disinfection procedures, he said.

Safran, based in Paris, is conducting tests with hospitals on the efficacy of fabrics into which so-called biocides have been integrated during manufacturing, he said. Another possibility is the use of sprays that can be applied to existing seats and last between six months and a year. 

These could lighten some of the procedures between flights and add a new dimension to the roughly $4.2 billion jet-seat market.  

IATA recommends using a vacuum cleaner to remove loose particles from fabric seat covers, and wiping and drying those made of leather-like coverings. It also advises the removal of visible stains or else changing a fabric, and that belts and buckles also be cleaned and disinfected.   

How Long Will The U.K. Fuel Crisis Last? Here Are Five of the Biggest Questions, Answered - BLOOMBERG

SEPTEMBER 28, 2021

(Bloomberg) --

U.K. drivers are queuing for fuel in scenes that are reminiscent of the 1970s, creating a national crisis out of something that what was initially a relatively minor logistics problem. 

The government has responded by enacting the Downstream Oil Protocol - exempting industry from competition law - and putting military tanker drivers on standby. Other measures, like making 5,000 short-term visas available for foreign drivers and encouraging retired U.K. drivers to return to work, aren’t expected to provide a quick solution.

Here are five big questions being asked about the crisis on the web.

Where can I buy fuel right now?

It’s a fast-changing situation. The country’s main sellers are saying nothing of substance about availability, other than that they are working hard to sort it out and that it’s changing from one moment to the next, and from one location to the next. Their main advice is to go back to normal buying behavior as this will allow them to get services back up and running normally again sooner.

When will fuel crisis end?

Fuel companies and the government keep saying that there is no shortage, just a bottleneck in getting it from refineries and storage sites to filling stations. Things could return to normal within a few days, especially if the military drivers are used to increase the number of deliveries. It does depend on how fast drivers go back to their normal buying patterns, which will be affected by how much they have in their tanks.

What is the fuel competition law?

There isn’t a specific law for competition in the fuel supply industry, but it comes under the Competition Act 1998. That prevents companies colluding, including sharing information, to reduce competitive behavior. These restrictions have been eased temporarily for the companies delivering and selling road fuels. This is to enable them to share information on where they are making deliveries so that they can coordinate nationally and avoid all of them delivering fuel to the same part of the country and leaving other parts short of supply.

Can the army help?

Yes. Using military drivers to carry fuel to civilian service stations is one of the tools at the government’s disposal for dealing with the crisis. A 2017 document published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, setting out proposals to strengthen the resilience of fuel supply to U.K. consumers, identified using military tanker drivers to maintain fuel deliveries as “a last resort.” The U.K. government has now put military drivers on standby.

Does fuel expire?

It does degrade over time, but can be kept in proper tanks for many months. But, please, don’t stockpile gallons and gallons of fuel in jerry cans in your spare bedroom. Leakage of highly flammable vapors poses a serious risk of explosion and death. Speaking of storage, fuel isn’t toilet paper: the space to store it is far more finite -- something that will also infuence when this crisis ends.

United Airlines Extends Africa Reach in Deal With Local Carrier - BLOOMBERG

SEPTEMBER 28, 2021

(Bloomberg) --

United Airlines Holdings Inc. expanded its reach to southern African destinations like Madagascar, Mozambique and Victoria Falls, inking a code-share agreement with a growing local carrier. 

The deal with closely held SA Airlink Pty Ltd. adds connections to more than 40 African locations for travelers from the U.S. It’s the latest sign of a reopening of international travel in the region following the coronavirus pandemic.

“United continues to demonstrate our commitment to Africa, starting three brand-new flights to the continent this year alone,” Patrick Quayle, vice president of international network and alliances at United, said in a statement Tuesday.

Airlink is bidding to fill a void left by national carrier South African Airways, which recently emerged from bankruptcy proceedings and is flying to limited destinations. Airlink, known before the pandemic as a way to get from Johannesburg to small towns dotted around the country, signed a similar deal with Gulf giant Emirates in August. 

United plans to start flights from Washington to Nigeria and Ghana later this year, the carrier said, alongside a route between New York and Johannesburg. The company also has a code-share with SAA through the Star Alliance.  

Alleged Fake COVID-19 Test: Senate Investigates Attempts to Defraud Nigerian Travellers in Ghana - THISDAY

SEPTEMBER 28, 2021

By Deji Elumoye and Juliet Akoje

The Senate has resolved to investigate allegations of fake COVID-19 test result to defraud unsuspecting Nigerians in Ghana and the use of fake COVID-19 vaccination cards in Nigeria.

The decision to investigate the allegation against the Ghanaian authorities taken at Tuesday plenary of the Red Chamber was sequel to the adoption of a motion, following numerous allegations and complaints made by Nigerian travellers isolated at Ghanaian isolation facilities.

The motion titled, “Urgent need to conduct investigation on allegation of fake COVID-19 test results being used to defraud Nigerians in Ghana and the obtainment of fake COVID-19 vaccination cards”, was sponsored by Senator Yahaya Oloriegbe, who recalled that the COVID-19 infection was declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) in February 2020.

According to him, while the global roll-out of COVID-19 vaccinations continues to accelerate, only around one per cent of the world’s population have received their full course of injections.

He noted that there is a serious allegation that the Ghanaian authorities are diagnosing Nigerians who travel to their country of testing positive for Covid-19 even after testing negative in Nigeria.

He further observed that the Ghanaian authorities, usually commit Nigerians who visit their country to isolation for two weeks and are made to pay about N70,000 per day.

“Also observed that this allegation was exposed by a Nigerian artiste, who was told in Ghana that he had Covid-19 even after testing negative at a Nigerian facility in Nigeria. He rejected the result and insisted that it was a fake result. He was deported and kicked out of Ghana by the authorities and proceeded to New York in the United States, where his test result on arrival came out negative.

“Worried that Nigerians travelling to Ghana or through Ghana lamented that they are made to pay almost N1 million while in isolation.

“Further worried that most of the Nigerians travelling to Ghana or through Ghana have alleged that the Ghanaian authorities have made them targets for the purpose of making money.

“Concerned that if this allegation is not properly investigated and addressed, the exploitation will continue, thereby unlawfully taking away the resources of Nigerians in this global economic recession; and

“Worried that if the allegation of people obtaining and using fake Covid-19 vaccination cards to travel is not debunked, it may have negative consequence for Nigerians with genuine Covid-19 vaccination cards from travelling outside the country.”

According to him, “Billions are still waiting for their first dose, which inevitably leads those people to question exactly when they will get it, especially as plans are being made internationally to allow those that have been vaccinated, or can prove they have had a recent negative test, the freedom to travel to other countries, attend large-scale events, take a new job, and more;

“Noted also that there’s a strong and growing demand for vaccinations and test results because of the greater freedoms they will give to people. Also, there will always be people who don’t want to wait for their official vaccination, or for an official negative test result – and shady people willing to service that demand.”

The senator also prevailed on the upper chamber to investigate another allegation on the United Kingdom’s refusal to acknowledge the vaccination cards and test results issued to travellers by facilities in Nigeria.

Accordingly, the Red Chamber, in its resolution, directed its Committees on Health (Secondary and Tertiary), Primary Health and Communicable Diseases and Foreign Affairs headed by Senators Yahaya Oloriegbe, Chukwuka Utazi and Adamu Bulkachuwa respectively to conduct detailed investigations into the allegations.

Airport-Taxiway Congestion Eased by Software in Tests, Saving Fuel - BLOOMBERG

SEPTEMBER 28, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- A new air-traffic computer tool that untangles congested airport taxiways saved hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel during tests and is expected to be installed across major U.S. airports starting next year. 

The Federal Aviation Administration plans to add the system at 27 busy hubs in coming years, the agency said Tuesday in a joint announcement with NASA, which helped develop the technology. 

“The future of flight must be more sustainable and environmentally friendly,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, a former airline pilot, said in the release. “This new capability has a double benefit: It reduces aircraft emissions and ensures air travelers experience more on-time departures.”

The Terminal Flight Data Manager is designed to address the significant portion of flight delays that occur on the ground as airliners line up to depart from busy airports, often waiting for significant periods of time while engines inefficiently idle. 

Instead of allowing planes to depart from airport gates on a first-come, first-served basis, the new system will instruct controllers when individual planes should push back. The goal is to have the shortest runway cue possible, allowing for efficient use of busy runways while minimizing the time that planes must wait. 

The system -- which operates by merging data from airlines, airports and air-traffic systems -- has been tested at Charlotte Douglas International and Dallas/Fort Worth International. 

The tests in Charlotte, North Carolina, which is a major hub for American Airlines Group Inc., reduced taxi times and saved more than 275,000 gallons (1,041,000 liters) of jet fuel annually, according to FAA. The agency estimated it resulted in a reduction of eight tons a day in carbon emissions. 

Airports scheduled to get the system include all of the biggest U.S. facilities, including Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson, Chicago O’Hare and all three of New York City’s: John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty.

FG bans 2,000 from travelling for evading COVID-19 test - PUNCH

SEPTEMBER 29, 2021

BY  Stephen Agwaibor

The Federal Government has imposed a travel ban on no fewer than 2,000 Nigerians and foreigners, restricting their movement in and out of the country.

This was disclosed the National Incident Manager of the Presidential Steering Committee, Mukhtar Muhammad, at a briefing in Abuja.

A statement from the PSC on COVID-19 said it had banned more than 2,000 Nigerians and foreigners from travelling out and into the country for one year for evading the coronavirus Polymerase Chain Reaction test at the country’s international airports.

Muhammad revealed that the names of over 2,000 citizens and foreigners had been shared across major federal medical facilities in the country where medical experts were assigned to give care to Nigerians and foreigners that had travelled into the country during the COVID-19 third wave.

He said the government had warned passengers arriving into the country from high-risk countries to quarantine in a government-provided facility, adding that the passports of those who failed to comply with the protocol had been suspended for one year.

Kenya Airways partners SAA on pan-African airline - PUNCH

SEPTEMBER 29, 2021

BY  Adepeju Adenuga

Kenya Airways and South African Airways have struck a preliminary co-operation deal with a longer-term view of launching a pan-African airline group.

According to FlightGlobal, the two African carriers signed the memorandum in Johannesburg on Tuesday, in a move which they hope will assist the operators’ post-Covid recovery but also longer-term co-operation plans.

SAA interim chief executive Thomas Kgokolo says the next step is to set up a joint working group to further discuss the memorandum and to put in place systems to achieve their stated objectives. The agreement is not exclusive, meaning both carriers can also pursue further co-operation deals.

Both SkyTeam carrier Kenya Airways and Star Alliance operator SAA have faced financial struggles in recent years, compounded by the Covid crisis. Kenya Airways is still awaiting finalisation of plans to nationalise the carrier while SAA only resumed fights earlier this month after a year-long absence while it completed a major restructuring

Kgokolo says collaboration will assist both airlines in the current and post-pandemic business and travel environment. This, he says, involves joint recovery strategies and other “cost-containment” strategies that will aid the recovery of both carriers.

Kgokolo said, “As well as being a strong local carrier, part of our broader growth strategy is to become a major player in regional travel and this joint memorandum with Kenya Airways, one of the continent’s strongest and most respected carriers, will do just that.

“It will also enhance related Kenya and South Africa tourism circuits, sectors which account for significant portions of respective country growth domestic product, benefiting from at least two attractive hubs in Johannesburg, Nairobi and possibly Cape Town.

“KQ and SAA, as iconic airline brands of Africa’s biggest and vibrant economies, in East Africa and Southern Africa respectively, are at the precipice of what could be Africa’s formidable Pan African airline.’’

Kenya Airways chief executive Allan Kilavuka said, “The future of aviation and its long-term sustenance is hinged on partnership and collaboration. Kenya Airways and South African Airways collaboration will enhance customer benefits by availing a larger combined passenger and cargo network.”

He added that the link-up will help improve the customer experience by offering a wider range of destinations, as well as helping to standardise product and service offerings.

Issues At Port Harcourt International Airport Exaggerated – DG NCAA - INDEPENDENT

SEPTEMBER 29, 2021

By Olusegun Koiki 

Capt. Musa Nuhu, Director-General of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), in this interview with OLUSEGUN KOIKI, speaks on the recertification of Lagos and Abuja airports and challenges in remittance of the 5 per cent Ticket Sales Charge/Cargo Sales Charge (TSA/CSC) by airlines and the plans of the regulatory authority to tackle it, among others. Excerpts:

 Sir, how far has the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) gone with the recertification of Lagos and Abuja international airports? 

Lagos and Abuja international airports were certified a few years ago and presently, they are going through recertification. 

There has been some progress. We have a few gaps that are to be closed. Some have been closed, others, we are in the process of closing them and new gaps have come. 

So, we are working closely with the management of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to close those gaps so that the recertification process can be completed as soon as possible. 

Some of the projects they have to do are quite capital intensive, but we are working on them and I think we are getting some assistance from the Ministry of Aviation to give them the support on those heavy items that they need to do. 

Apart from that, we are also talking on initial certification for Port Harcourt, Enugu and Kano international airports. All the international airports have to be certified. It is quite a big project to certify five airports; two initials and three recertifications. 

It is quite a heavy load to be done, but hopefully, we will get them by as soon as possible. 

As we all know, the handling rates are deregulated, but the NCAA had to intervene in this recently, why did the regulatory agency get involved in this? 

The new handling rates were done after consultations with the foreign, domestic airlines and ground handling companies. 

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) did not just wake up and put figures together. We had consultative meetings with all the parties involved. 

Why should I be charging $300 in Nigeria and neighbouring countries are charging $4,000 and you expect the ground handlers to give you the same service? That is not possible. Those charges are a reflection of what is in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region. 

So, the NCAA did not just wake up to come out with the charges, but significant consultative meetings with everyone like the Aviation Ground Handling Association of Nigeria (AGHAN), Airline Operators Committee (AOC), Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) and the Ministry of Aviation. It was agreed by everyone and we implemented the figures as agreed by all the parties involved. 


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Some years ago, the NCAA directed all airlines to move to its portal for the remittance of the 5 per cent Ticket Sales Charge/Cargo Sales Charge (TSA/CSC). How far have you gone with this integration? 

Almost all the airlines have integrated. What we have done now is that if you come in, you won’t be given an Air Operators’ Certificate (AOC) until you sign the tripartite agreement on the integration to the portal. 

This will save us a lot of challenges we are facing at the moment on the debt. Also, if you are renewing your AOC, too, we ensure that you must have signed that. 

What we do now is that we have stopped the growth of the debt. There is a legacy debt. We are working with airlines to come out with their plans and a lot of them have come out with their plans and very soon we are going to be talking to them one by one on how they are going to settle their old debts. 

We know, we are all facing a difficult time, but also, you must have a visible plan on how to settle this debt. Maybe one or two airlines are in the process of integrating into the portal, and I think that should not be an issue. 

Can you shed more light on the Legacy debts and is there any possibility that the regulatory agency would right off the debts? 

I don’t want to give you a wrong figure. Even with legacy debt, when you say something, the airlines will disagree with you on the figures you sent out. 

We need to sit down, do reconciliation with them. There is this reconciliation meeting that is ongoing with the airlines and that is why I don’t want to give a figure that I won’t be able to substantiate. The President and the Vice President of AON met with us on the debt issue and we are working on it. 

I cannot write off any debt; I do not have the authority to write off a Federal Government’s debt without the approval of the appropriate authorities. 

You see, we have to keep doing the reconciliation once the debts keep growing, but now, we have to stop the debts from growing. If we did reconciliation in 2020 and the debts are still growing, I have to do reconciliation, but now, we have drawn a line by insisting everyone has to come in newly. Some are paying and some have given us the timetable for payment. 

If we say they should come and pay, all the airlines will close shop, but what have we achieved with that at the end of the day? Don’t forget, we are to also help to promote the growth of the industry inasmuch as we want our money and we want the airlines to pay back the government money. 

What is the true position of Port Harcourt International Airport? 

What were the reasons given for the airport to be shut down? This is a report from my Regional Manager in Port Harcourt. 

Yes, there are some issues there, but a lot of the issues that were mentioned have been addressed. Some of the people were talking of the Instrument Landing System (ILS); the mandatory flight calibration and navigation were carried out on August 29, 2021. It is unfortunate and I wish people will clarify certain information before going to the public. 

Some of the information you have maybe outdated, but we do appreciate people talking and raising those issues. Sometimes, they show you something you don’t see and you need to work on them. 

They also said we have issues of cows straying into the airport regularly, but the last issue of cows we had at the airport was about 16 years ago. Since then, officially, the NCAA has never had any such issue. 

Like I said earlier, Port Harcourt Airport is one of the airports we want to carry out certification on and one of the issues raised is on the fences there. 

The fences at Port Harcourt Airport are porous and it is one of the things we are working on for the certification of the airport. It is an ongoing project and we are working with FAAN on that and it is one of the things that must be done before the certification. There is still a risk of wildlife coming into the runway and the risk assessment has been done and sent to the airport operator. 

Another issue they raised is the unclear markings at the airside; runway markings are almost 95 per cent complete as at September 4, 2021, yes; there is an issue of runway central light. It is one of the issues we are also discussing on the certification of the airport. 

Also, they said that there are several incidents of aircraft skidding off the runway at the airport, I don’t know which of the incidents they are referring to, but I know we had one in 2018. Runway friction test was conducted on the runway on July 21, 2021 at the airport. 

Also, they said too much water on the surface of the runway, which leads to aircraft losing balance and skidding off the runway. When did an aircraft lose balance and skid off the runway? The derubberisation of the runway is done regularly. The runway was last derubberised on the 25th and 26th June, 2021. 

The main issue I know we have at Port Harcourt is the issue of the backup generators for the runway lighting, the ones they have there had some problems. 

I think they got burnt or damaged. To my understanding, FAAN has been notified and I think they are in the process of replacing those ones. 

Yes, we have issues in Port Harcourt, like every other airport across the world, it could be better. There are issues we are working on to rectify them, but I won’t classify the airport as unsafe. 

When is the next International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) audit coming up and how far have you gone with your preparations? 

We are working on it and I think airport certification is a major issue for us all. We are in discussion with ICAO as to when the audit will take place. Certainly, it is going to be in 2022. 

How many private jets do we have in the country at the moment? 

I think in the last five years, the number of private jets we have has reduced. We all can understand why – the economy has not been buoyant. It takes a lot of money to run a private jet, depending the type of jets you have. 

20 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, how have we fared? 

The 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States has really changed the security apparatus in the aviation industry, a lot of security measures have been put in place. 

Pre-9/11, you could virtually go to any airport, get approval to go in, but now, you are almost stripped naked for security checks. 

It may sound inconvenience, but I will rather be stripped naked, than go and be blown to pieces up there. It is one of the things that we just have to live with. Security is very critical. 

Dubai Resets After Covid-Ravaged Year With $7 Billion Expo - BLOOMBERG

SEPTEMBER 29, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- One year after the pandemic forced a delay, Dubai is set to open its $7 billion Expo on a desert site the size of 600 football fields.

Having spent years preparing for the event, the city hopes that an exhibition featuring autonomous vehicles, a pavilion shaped like falcons and one with an original Pharaoh coffin will attract enough tourists to help solidify a nascent economic recovery.

Starting Friday, diplomats, dealmakers, artists and musicians will fly in from around the world. The city has stuck to its target of 25 million visits -- both virtually and in person -- and at a time when travel restrictions have slowed business across financial centers, the six-month long exhibition may even help to create a template for others to follow.  

What’s It Like to Visit Dubai Now? Covid Comfort as Expo Arrives

Dubai has shunned lockdowns since emerging from one last year, keeping its economy open and embarking on an ambitious vaccination drive. The United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a part, has inoculated more than 80% of its population and infections rates have dropped. The country is now placed sixth on Bloomberg’s Resilience Rankings.

“There’s a good balance between keeping the city open for business and managing the public health issue,” said Nabil Alyousuf, a former senior UAE official who is the CEO of Dubai-based International Advisory Group. 

Read More: Dubai Bets on Vaccines to Keep Economy Open 

An influx of tourists will benefit the city, given that a third of its economy is made up of sectors like hospitality and wholesale and retail trade. Dubai government employees will even get six days off to visit the event. Capital Economics economist James Swanston, however, cautioned long-term effects may “fail to live up to policymakers’ hopes.”

For now, employment numbers at least are looking up. The city’s flagship airline is planning to recruit thousands over the next six months and hoteliers are adding jobs.

Emirates Goes on Hiring Spree for Dubai Hub as Travel Curbs Ease

The event may also help lay a platform to reverse last year’s steep population decline, which the government is trying to address through programs to lure foreigners. Alyousuf of IAG said the Expo will encourage more high-net worth individuals to either move to the city or establish a second base.

“Although footfall is the most visible and easy to measure sign of success, there are other benefits that are harder to visualize and accrue over a number of years,” said Scott Livermore, chief economist for Oxford Economics Middle East in Dubai. “Benefits also accrue through marketing Dubai and a successful Expo can create and help sustain a perception about Dubai as a place to live, work and invest.”

And as the skyscraper-studded emirate looks to defend its status as the Middle East’s leading business hub amid growing competition from Riyadh, it can now lay claim to having hosted the Arab world’s first expo.

Immigration Realities - Nigeria's Loss, West's Gain, Neighbours' Win - DAILY TRUST

SEPTEMBER 29, 2021

Most Nigerians are used to queuing up to see their medical doctors. That of course refers to the majority of our countrymen and women who pay out of their pocket for every medical expense. Usually the doctor sits in his/her consulting room to attend to the patients, one after the other. Recently some of these patients watched on television screens, perhaps with bewilderment, as their doctors joined long queues to attend job interviews.

As Nigerians of all walks of life have known, those who interviewed our doctors were recruiters or headhunters who came from abroad, some from Saudi Arabia. Yes, Saudi Arabia is one of the many countries that have discovered value in our doctors that our dear country does not seem to have seen. So, these countries are offering them jobs at much higher wage. Being rational economic entities, these doctors obviously prefer higher wages to less, given also that the general conditions of service in the new places are expected to be better than they have had here.

Consequently, the doctors are leaving in droves. So are the nurses, the other professionals that complement the work of doctors.

Besides Saudi Arabia, other known destinations of the fleeing medical personnel include the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, among others.

Not all the departures of these professionals are marked with drama, as some choose to leave quietly. So estimates of the number of doctors that leave Nigeria each year vary, but one estimate says that as many as 2,000 trained doctors depart Nigeria annually in search of something better elsewhere.

Other professionals are also leaving, in some informal ways. These days, there is hardly anyone that does not know someone who knows someone whose relation has left the country recently.

Effectively, all these professionals are simply transferring Nigeria's social benefits to other nations, for obviously no fault of theirs.

Nothing makes migration bad, especially in this era of globalisation. Just as our people move from the rural areas into the urban centres, so do people from one corner of the globe to the other. Migration has become an economic diversification policy designed to enable countries' nationals to earn foreign currency, part of which they can remit home.

This is the origin of the concept of Remittance, which has become a key element in developing countries' earnings tables. There are countries that deliberately encourage migration by their citizens. Cuba is an example. It has a state policy of training medical doctors and exporting them to the rest of the world, including the United States. Such doctors are nationalists who believe in remitting money back home. Other countries in this category include India and the Philippines, both of which boast of large numbers of their citizens living abroad and remitting billions of dollars home every year.

For Nigeria, remittances by our professional out there have been recognised as one of the highest among African countries, rising by more than three times from about $5.66b in 2010 to $17.57b in 2019.

Even so, there appears to be a difference between those who emigrated long ago who still remit funds back home. For them, the movement out of the country was more of a natural course of action in pursuit of higher dreams than an escape from a choking enclave, which Nigeria has become to many.

That has changed with the current batch of our compatriots leaving now. For them, leaving the shores of Nigeria is a protest ostensibly against a system that they feel has treated them unjustly and unfairly. For many, it is a protest against a system that threw them into the streets, without jobs and with no sense of belonging. When they leave, some of them tend to burn the bridge. So they do not want to have anything to do with the country again. From those people, remittances are not rising as they used to.

The amazing thing however is that once these Nigerians arrive at their destinations, whether the UK, United States, Canada, or wherever, they become productive, displaying their creativity. This explains some of the shifts in immigration policies that some of these countries have announced in recent times, all aimed at attracting more immigrants from Nigeria.

So, Nigeria continues to lose some of its social benefits. Meanwhile, at home here, it is becoming more difficult for companies to get good hands to work because the country is losing some of its best. On the other hand, if the stories making the rounds in the media are true, it means that Nigeria is actually receiving foreign bandits who are contributing to the brigandage in the country. The stories are everywhere that the bandits terrorising our nation are foreigners.

So, what we have as a country is a situation where we are losing some of our best and brightest in the medical and other fields, to other countries, and at the same time, we are attracting people who come into our country to kill, maim, steal, and pillage the land.

Indeed, if the above is true, it is also possible that the people we have mistakenly allowed in have become part of the challenges facing our forex market. If those who kidnap our people, demand and receive millions of naira in ransom are foreigners, it stands to reason that they must be finding ways to change the naira into foreign currencies which they in turn ferry out of the country to wherever they came from.

The government faces a confidence challenge. It needs to build people's confidence in this economy, but confidence takes time to grow. It grows like a coconut tree but falls like a coconut. The government must show people reasons to believe in the country and that there is something in it for them.

The coconut tree takes about five years to grow, but its nut falls within seconds to the ground. That's what confidence is like.

The government must embark on policies that boost people's confidence in the system. This will require consistency and focus on building an economy that has a space for all.

People on their part should appreciate the fact that confidence in the economy will take time to grow.


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