African trade and regional integration have been identified as critical factors for Africa’s development. The recognition of this important fact was underscored by the recent signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. Despite the gains, it is shocking to note that African trade and financial issues continue to remain under-reported in the media. A situation contributing largely to availability of very limited awareness or lack of information about markets across the continent. In a bid to help address the challenge to ensure smooth flow of information leading to easy facilitation of trade among African countries and between Africa and the rest of the world, the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has held a two-day intensive training workshop for 18 selected African journalists in Casablanca, Morocco from 7 to 8 November 2018. Dubbed "Media Workshop on Intra-African Trade, Business and Financial Reporting”, was aimed at building capacity of African journalists to give prominence to and effectively report on issues pertaining to intra-African trade and finances. Addressing participants at the opening, Executive Vice President, Business Development and Corporate Banking, Afreximbank, Mr. Amr Kamel noted the workshop form part of his outfit’s ongoing effort to position and work with the media to advance the course of development across Africa. He maintained that the objective behind organising the workshop is to strengthen skills and knowledge of journalists to produce fact-based reporting on intra-African trade and on business and financial issues relating to Africa as a way of closing the information gap. While identifying the unique role of the media in “carrying the message on intra-African trade transactions from policy makers to the people and, in turn, gather feedback from the people and feed the same to the policy makers”, he concluded: “without the media, it will be almost impossible to have free flow of ideas and information". In all, 18 selected journalists who work as business/financial reporters for established media organizations within 7 African countries namely, Ghana Nigeria, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Morocco and Senegal were equipped with the needed knowledge and skills to shed light on the issues. The participants include Thierry Ekouti, Le Quotidian(Zimbabwe),Uchechukwu Usim, the Sun Newspaper (Nigeria), Lucy Nwachukwu, News Agency of Nigeria(Nigeria), Mathew Dadiya, Daily Times (Nigeria), Leah Katung-Babatunde, NTA (Nigeria), Chijioke Nelson, the Guardian (Nigeria), Joseph Kobla Wemakor, Ghananewsone.com(Ghana), Seth Krampah, B&FT(Ghana), Abdou Diaw, Le Soleil Business(Senegal), Brian Ngugi, Business Daily(Kenya), Isaac Khisa, the Independent(Nigeria), Kalonde Nyati, Daily Mail(Zambia), Ristel Tchounand, La Tchounand La Tribune d’Afrique(Morocco), Bassey Udo, Premium Times (Nigeria), Ebere Nwoji, This Day (Nigeria), Collins Nweze, the Nation(Nigeria), Manal Ahmed Omar Abdel Hafez, Al Alam AI Youm(Egypt) and Francis Arinze Iloani, Daily Trust Newspaper (Nigeria). The 2-day workshop witnessed the combination of theoretical teachings with the experience of decades-long career in covering subjects specific to African, trade, African and global business and financial developments. It was conducted by Mr. Obi O. Emekekwue, Director & Global Head of Communications and Events Management, Afreximbank with support from Mr. John Chiahemen, a renowned Media & Communication Consultant, Nice View Media and Dr. Luke Anorue, Senior Lecturer, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. The selected reporters were taken through topic such as: “Intra-African Trade, Business & Financial Reporting Africa: The State of Play", " Telling Story: How to capture the Intra-African Trade Story for Your Audience" including "Practical Lessons in Financial & Business Reporting in Africa: Incorporating Intra African Trade". The participants, better equipped to tackle the challenges of reporting on African trade issues, particularly in the context of the opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, expressed profound gratitude to the bank for the sponsorship. In a jubilant mood, each of them was handed a certificate of participation at the end of the workshop. Speaking to participants, Afreximbank’s Director & Global Head of Communications and Events Management, Mr. Obi O. Emekekwue averred that the media has a significant role to play to bring about change through continuous highlighting issues of intra-African trade and regional integration to ensure Africa’s development. He said the bank believes journalists can achieve dreams through harnessing their power and influence of reach and ability to reach the mass public with news and by focusing attention on the issues of trade in Africa to help create the much-needed awareness and bring the necessary information to the trading public. It further believes until its goal can be achieved, the media practitioners ought to understand Intra-African trade issues and have a solid grasp of financial and business reporting techniques at their fingertips. Mr. Obi Emekekwue therefore charged the African media practitioners to focus attention on intra-African trade and finances issues including the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and report on them accurately to keep the information flowing in order to help bring about the needed development in Africa. Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode (3rd right); National President, Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International-Nigeria (FGBMFI), Arc. Ifeanyi Odedo (middle); his wife, Nnedi (3rd left); Commissioner for Establishment, Training and Pensions, Dr. Akintola Benson (2nd left); Treasurer, FGBMFI-Nigeria, Mr. Dan Oku (left); Special Adviser to the Governor on Primary Healthcare, Dr. Olufemi Onanuga (4th right behind); National Legal Adviser, FGBMFI-Nigeria, Mr. Chidi Ilogu, SAN (2nd right); Mr. Tom Ogboi (right) and some members of the Fellowship during a courtesy visit by FGBMFI-Nigeria at the Lagos House, Alausa, Ikeja, on Wednesday.

Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode on Wednesday said if Nigeria must develop and have sizable improvement in the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), people of good conscience and high integrity must be at the drivers’ seat in all spheres of the economy.

Speaking at Lagos House in Alausa, Ikeja when he received national leadership of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International (Nigeria) on a courtesy visit, Governor Ambode said the country stands to benefit a lot when good business practice is combined with excellent religious conscience, saying such would obviously result in growth and development.

According to him, “The economy of Lagos cannot be that productive to improve the GDP if there are no people with good conscience and this is what this fellowship stands for. It is not enough for you to have resources, it is not enough for you to have people that can improve productivity but again there are people who have to be drivers to arrive at the GDP or the kind of nation that we want.”

The Governor said since his assumption of office in the last three and half years, concerted efforts had been made to ensure religious harmony and also create greater enabling environment for businesses to thrive, saying it was gratifying that the State had experienced peaceful co-existence among religious group.

“One thing that I can assure of is our continuous support. Like you must have noticed in the last three years, we have ensured that there is proper religious harmony in this State and there has never been any single incident of religious crisis.

“Obviously, we recognize the fact that Lagos is a cosmopolitan State but irrespective of that, we have allowed a whole lot of freedom of space because that is the thing that actually drives productivity.

“All we do as a government is just to ensure that we create an enabling environment for people to practice religion without interference and at the same time greater enabling environment for them to do their businesses. So, when we combine good businesses and good religious conscience, obviously the nation will grow and then the nation will develop,” Governor Ambode said.

While describing members of the fellowship as distinguished personalities in various fields, the Governor equally commended them for holding their annual convention in Lagos, saying it was instructive that such was taking place at a time that the nation needs a lot of prayers.

Earlier, National President of the fellowship, Mr. Ifeanyi Odedo, who led the delegation, said the team was at Lagos House to officially inform the Governor of the ongoing 87th National Convention of the Fellowship, and also to explore partnership in key areas to grow the country’s GDP such as housing, agro industry, and information communication technology, among others.

Odedo also commended the Governor for his giant strides in the last three and half years, saying it was commendable that he had given priority to people-oriented policies and programs.

“We appreciate the kind of grace that God has bestowed upon you. In the past number of years that you have served this State as Executive Governor, we have seen your doggedness, we have seen your passion, we have seen your integrity, we have seen the spirit of professionalism and excellence with people-oriented programs that are very impactful.

“Suffice it to say that you have left a great legacy in the sand of history. I want to put on record that what God has deposited in you with which you have served this State in the past three and half years or thereabout, that thing will still find expression in no distant time. All things work together for good and because you are carrying the spirit of the Lord, the Lord is setting before you an open door and no man can shut it,” Odedo said.

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