Nigeria’s GDP slows in Q1, Congo sues Rwanda’s army & M23

Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) dropped to 2.31 percent in the first quarter of 2023 from 3.52 percent in Q4 2022. Released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the figures are attributed to the adverse effects of the cash crunch policy. Nigeria’s manufacturing sector growth slowed to its lowest in three years. In a related development, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has increased its benchmark interest rate (Monetary Policy Rate) for the third time this year by 50 basis points to 18.5 percent in its recently concluded MPC meeting—the highest in 22 years.

Abuja has approved the merger of National Identity Number cards and bank debit cards. This approval comes after a memo from the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday stated that the National Identity Management Commission will allow banks to print debit cards that double as National Identity cards. This comes at no extra cost over the normal fees charged for debit cards. “It is going to be a form of multi-purpose card where it will serve as your national identity card on one hand and also your bank card on the other hand, either MasterCard, Visa, or any other kind of card,” Communication and Digital Economy Minister Isa Pantami told State House journalists. 

Accra has finally indicated that it is taking steps to review all flagship programmes as part of its objectives to strengthen fiscal policy. According to the government, “the decision for rationalisation will depend on the assessment of efficiency, effectiveness, and value for money for each programme”; and for social programmes, it will rationalise and align the spending envelope with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets. Speaking to JoyFM, Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, confirmed that the government was considering reviewing all existing flagship programmes. The 2023 budget statement showed the government listed 16 programmes as its flagship programmes projected to cost the state GH¢9.2 billion. Previous budget statements presented to parliament by Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta show flagship programmes have enjoyed budgetary allocation worth GH¢33 billion in three years (2020-2023).

The Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has filed a complaint at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, against the Rwandan army-M23 coalition for crimes committed in the east of the country. “The DRC is deeply concerned by the serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law committed and perpetuated against the civilian population, as well as the systematic and large-scale plundering of its natural resources by agents of the RDF-M23 coalition (Rwanda Defense Forces and March 23 Movement), mainly in the eastern part of its territory,” said the Minister of State in charge of Justice, Rose Mutombo, when the complaint was filed at the office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). There is already a continuing ICC investigation into eastern DRC since 2004, and it is unclear if the new referral would shift the court’s focus.

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