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AfDB, Credit Suisse, China, Ghana sign $600m cocoa productivity deal

The African Development Bank, Credit Suisse AG, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited and Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) signed a $600 million syndicated receivables-backed term loan on Tuesday, to boost cocoa productivity in Ghana – the world’s second-largest cocoa producer.

Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the President of the African Development Bank Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, senior officials from Credit Suisse and ICBC, oversaw the signing of the facility, at a ceremony held on the second day of the 2019 Africa Investment Forum.

The multi-million dollar agreement is a milestone for the Bank-convened Africa Investment Forum, a transactional platform dedicated to transforming the continent’s investment and development agenda, which kicked off in Sandton City Johannesburg on Monday.

The COCOBOD transaction was launched at the Africa Investment Forum in 2018, and a year later, the signing is a demonstration of the Forum’s ability to raise much needed financing, including from international commercial financiers, for projects in Africa. Prior to the agreement, COCOBOD did not have access to long-term debt capital.

At a press conference following the signing, President Akufo-Addo said the agreement would help to ensure higher incomes for Ghana’s cocoa farmers.

“It was critical that we find a mechanism for scaling up the value chain for our farmers and that is where the Bank came in,” Akufo Addo said. “We see this agreement as a turning point and…to what is possible on this continent.”

The Bank, as Original DFI Lender and Initial Mandated Lead Arranger, is partnering with Credit Suisse as Original Commercial Lender, Global Commercial Coordinator, Co-Mandated Lead Arranger. Credit Suisse is also acting as Joint Commercial Underwriter and Bookrunner to structure and fund a dual-tranche facility comprising a $250 million, 7-year DFI tranche with the Bank, as well as a $350 million, 5-year commercial tranche.

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited London Branch joined as an Original Commercial Lender, Co-Mandated Lead Arranger and Joint Commercial Underwriter and Bookrunner ahead of syndication.

Syndication of the facility is underway.

Making sure that Africa gets to the top of the value chain is one of the African Development’s Bank’s top priorities, President Adesina said, adding that Africa could become a global hub for cocoa and cocoa-based products.

“All cocoa producing countries will get similar support (from the Bank). Ghana is bankable, cocoa is bankable and of course Africa is bankable,” Adesina said.

COCOBOD will use the facility to raise cocoa yields per hectare and increase Ghana’s overall production. These include financial interventions to sustainably increase cocoa plant fertility, improving irrigation systems, rehabilitating aged and disease-infected farms. The funds will also help increase warehouse capacity and provide support to local cocoa-processing companies.

Signing for Credit Suisse, Madthav Patki said the “landmark” transaction would facilitate future long-term investment in the Ghanaian cocoa sector.

“This is a positive contribution to a key sector of Ghana’s economy. “It is a moment of tremendous pride…This is what the Africa Investment Forum is all about,” Patki said. He also commended the Bank’s signature expertise in financial instruments, that enabled them to leverage financing for the deal.

The Africa Investment Forum, an initiative of the African Development Bank is an innovative, multi-stakeholder transactional marketplace, dedicated to raising capital, advancing projects to bankable stage, and accelerating financial closure of deals.

Ghana’s cocoa sector employs some 800,000 rural families and produces crops worth about $2 billion in foreign exchange annually. COCOBOD is a fully state-owned company solely responsible for Ghana’s cocoa industry, controlling the purchase, marketing and export of all cocoa beans produced in the country.

Top designers, models to storm Lagos for Zenith Bank’s lifestyle fair

Top designers, models, and brands across the world would be storming Lagos for ‘Style by Zenith 2.0’, the second edition of Zenith Bank’s lifestyle fair.

The fair is billed to hold from Friday, November 29, to Sunday, December 1, 2019, at the Eko Energy City, Eko Atlantic, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Some of the top designers to feature at the three-day event include Tom Ford, Dolce and Gabbana, Tokyo James, Eyola, Mai Atafo, Okunnoren Twins, Ejiro Amos-Tafiri, Telvin Nwafor, Fikirte Addis, House of Kaya, Gozen Green, Trish O, and Chulaap.

Others are Agatha Moreno, Sunny Rose, Nonnistics, Caesar Couture, Yartel, Orapeleng Mdutle, Mustapha Hassanaliand the Fabric Hub, amongst many more.

Aside from showcasing designs during runway modeling sessions — to be staged by leading Nigerian and international models — they would also participate in lifestyle masterclasses and offer expert opinions on recent trends and designs in the global fashion industry.

The fair would witness the exhibition of lifestyle, beauty, health and fitness products, food and drinks, games arcade for both children and adults as well as a musical concert featuring Nigeria’s biggest artistes.

‘Style by Zenith’ is an initiative launched by Zenith Bank in 2018 with the objective of supporting and creating value for customers by focusing on various aspects of lifestyle.

Registration for the event, which is free for everyone, can be done by visiting here.

Halima Dangote appointed ED commercial operations of Dangote Industries

 

Halima Aliko Dangote has been appointed as the group executive director, commercial operations of Dangote Industries Limited.

According to a release by the company, Halima Aliko Dangote is returning to the company after serving on secondment in several capacities across two of its business units over the last five years.

She is also a trustee of the Aliko Dangote Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the conglomerate.

Her most recent role in the group was as the executive director of Dangote Flour Mills.

She previously served as the executive director of NASCON, a manufacturer of salt, seasonings and still serves as a non-executive director.

She has over 12 years of professional experience and has held several executive management roles. In her new role, Dangote will be responsible for leading the development and implementation of the Dangote Group’s customer strategy to drive customer growth, improve customer relationship management, enhance customer experience and increase long term customer value.

She will also be responsible for the implementation of the group’s shared services strategy with specific oversight for the following functions; commercial, strategic procurement, administration and branding & communications.

Halima, who is the second daughter of Aliko Dangote, holds a bachelors degree in marketing from the American Intercontinental University, London and a master’s degree in business administration from Webster Business School, United Kingdom.

Halima is the president of the board of The Africa Center in New York, a uniquely focused centre providing a forward-looking gateway for engagement with Africa while encompassing policy, business and culture. She is a board member of Endeavour Nigeria and is also a member of the Women Corporate Directors (WCD).

 

UBA Group gets double honours… Wins CEO, 2019 Bank of the Year

United Bank for Africa Plc got double honours over the weekend as it emerged the Bank of the year 2019; while its Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, also emerged CEO of the year at the Business Hallmark Newspaper Awards, held at the Civic Centre in Lagos on Sunday.

Uzoka beat other CEOs to the prize owing to his sterling achievement since he assumed the leadership role of the bank three years ago, whilst UBA was crowned bank of the year following its exceptional performance as it recorded impressive performance in key financial indicators in 2019.

This is the second time this year that Kennedy Uzoka has emerged CEO of the year as he had only recently clinched the Business Day Banking Awards, (BAFI). The recognitions and awards have further endorsed his visionary leadership style which has consistently earned UBA a plethora of laurels.

Receiving the awards on behalf of the bank, at a well-attended ceremony, which assembled distinguished personalities, UBA’s Executive Director, Mr. Ayoku Liadi, who represented the GMD, thanked the organisers for the recognition, noting that he was proud to work at one of the best institutions in Africa.

“We are creating superior value for all our customers, because we believe they are key to our everyday operations and this commitment, without a doubt has been yielding dividends,” Liadi said.

He continued: “Whilst we are encouraged by these awards, the recognitions present new challenges to us, as we will intensify our commitment towards setting benchmarks for the industry, particularly in our strategic roles,”

The Organiser of the awards and the Chief Executive Officer of Business Hallmark, Emeka Obasi, who spoke at the event explained that the best CEO award is borne out of the need to recognise achievements of financial executives who have been outstanding in their profession and have contributed in no small measure to the growth of their organisations and the economy at large.

Obasi also noted that the award given to UBA, is no doubt a well-deserved one, as is evidenced in the banks numerous innovations, and consistent investment in cutting edge technology giving birth to many firsts, including the launch of Leo the Chat Banker, in January of 2018. This fear has earned the bank the number one position in the digital space.

“Uzoka also did well by focusing on consistent expansion of UBA’s activities and services across and beyond the African continent”, all this is worthy of recognition.” Obasi concluded.

Just recently, UBA released its nine-month results ended September 30, 2019, closing the period with an impressive after-tax profit of N81.63bn, a growth of 32% over that of 2018, a momentum the bank will most likely sustain into the full-year, pointing to the possibility of even higher profits.

The bank’s gross earnings for 2019 nine-month stood at N428.22bn, compared to N310.45bn in 2018, representing 37.94% rise, while profit hit N81.63bn, from N61.7bn in 2018. The UBA group’s impairment charges on financial assets for the period decreased to N6.66bn, compared to N10.67bn in 2018, resulting in a decline in loan loss provision of 37.58%, thereby boosting the bank’s profit for the period.

CAC to continue de-registration over failure to file annual returns

The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) on Tuesday in Abuja said that de-listing of companies for failure to file their annual returns is an ongoing process.

Mr Moses Adaguusu, Head Public Affairs, CAC, said that there was no need leaving companies that are not complying on the register.

He said that in 2008, the number of companies de-registered stood at 10,000 while in 2016, 38,000 companies were also de-registered.

“So, it is a continuous process and there will be no need to leave companies that are not complying on the register,’’ Adaguusu.

Adaguusu urged companies operating in the country to voluntarily file in their annual returns as provided by the law.

He pointed out that filing of annual returns by companies would keep the commission abreast that such companies were still in operation or otherwise.

“An annual return is a mandatory requirement every enterprise or incorporated trustees must file annually by delivering to CAC a return in the prescribed form containing specified matters related to the organisation in accordance with Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA).

“A very vital importance is that filing of the annual return by a company helps to simply keep the commission abreast that such company is still actively in operation and still engaging in business activities or otherwise,’’ Adaguusu said.

While emphasising that the Enforcement and Monitoring Department of the Commission would intensify efforts to ensure compliance, Adaguusu said that the approach would not be aggressive.
According to him, although, we go out on enforcement, we are not going like task force because the economy is difficult.

“We want companies to embrace voluntary compliance so that there won’t be penalties.
“Penalties run into millions of naira and that is enough to close a company,’’ he said.

Rat holds up flight in India for 12 hours

A domestic flight in India was delayed for nearly 12 hours after a rat was spotted scampering around the aircraft, news reports and officials said on Tuesday.

Air India flight AI-952 was preparing for take-off from the southern city of Hyderabad for Vishakapatnam, a coastal city, early on Sunday, when the rodent was seen running around the cabin, the Times of India daily reported.

Helpless passengers for the flight were forced to stay put at Hyderabad airport all through the day until airline staff managed to get rid of the rat, the report said.

An Air India official confirmed the incident to dpa, adding that it was being investigated but gave no further details.

The passengers continued on their journey only after staff carried out a fumigation to sanitise the flight and searched for any possible damage caused by the rat.

The report said there were ugly scenes at the airport as infuriated passengers checked with airline staff when their flight would take off.

Several among them took to social media to express their amusement and anger over the incident.

Rats on planes are reported occasionally and are thought to enter the aircraft most frequently through catering deliveries.

In 2017, a New Delhi-San Francisco Air India flight was delayed after a rodent was found on board while the aircraft was taxiing prior to take-off. (dpa/NAN)

Bill Gates: I’ve paid over $10bn in taxes — more than anyone else

Bill Gates, the world’s richest man for nearly two decades, says he has paid over $10 billion in taxes, adding that he is willing to pay as much as $20 billion.

Speaking about the US 2020 elections and the tax policies between the Democrats and the Republicans, Gates said he is willing to follow anyone who comes to the tax debate professionally.

Elizabeth Warren of the Democratic Party is proposing a six percent tax on billionaires, while the Republican is cutting down on taxes, but Gates says he would say somewhere in the middle.

Speaking to this, Gates said: “I think the span of the two parties in terms of where they are in taxation has never been so broad you have one party reducing corporate taxes, you know, still supporting carried interest, taxes on capital or way way less than on labor… and now on the other side you have as you say a six percent wealth tax”.

“I happen to believe something in the middle, you know, I think you can make the estate tax higher. You could even take people have sat on huge gains for you know, say ten years and say, okay that there you should create a taxation event there.

“I think just by treating capital income the same as labor income that goes on very long distance, so I’m all for super progressive tax systems you do need to couple these things with more transparency the fact that you can through trust-like structures hide, lots of you know, beneficial ownership and get away with a lot.

“I’m impressed that there are a few candidates that go even beyond my view and I do think of you taxed too much you do risk capital formation innovation, the US is the desirable place to do innovative companies.

“Somebody can say, I’m very biased and type in a prime beneficiary of the existing system, but you know, I’d love to somebody to find a middle ground.

“You know, I’ve, Paid over 10 billion in taxes. I’ve paid more than anyone in taxes, but I’m glad to have, you know, if I’d had to pay $20 billion it’s fine, but you know when you say I should pay a hundred billion, okay, then I’m starting to do a little math about. What I have left over, sorry.”

When asked to choose between Elizabeth Warren and Donal Trump, Gates said: “I’m not gonna make political declarations but I do think no matter what policy somebody has in mind, I do think a professional approach to the office, whoever I decide would have the more professional approach in the current situation.”

Gates said he would never run for president in the US, stating that he was good at what he is currently doing.

“Well, I am good at innovation, you know backing scientists whether it’s climate change or HIV or malnutrition. That’s what I’m good at and it’s very much a full-time job.

“Orchestrating the resources and them and there’s a breakthrough making sure it gets out to all the kids in the world who need it. This is this work that I do in partnership with Melinda and great team at the Foundation and many other co-founders.

“This is my life’s work. This is my current life’s work. I have two careers; my Microsoft career and this career, and it will take all of the years. That’s the thing that I’ll put all my remaining energy into.”

Gates has donated more than $50 billion to development causes around the world, with more than $5 billion every year through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The 64-year-old is two to three countries away from eradicating polio in the world, making it the second disease in human history to have been eradicated.

Telcos warn of disruption over stoppage of fuel supplies to border towns

Telecom operators say some parts of the country will experience network disruptions as a result of the directive to stop diesel supply to base stations close to the border.

The federal government had, through the Nigeria Customs Service, directed that petroleum products should not be supplied to fuel stations within 20km of the borders, in order to check smuggling.

But PUNCH has reported that Gbenga Adebayo, chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), wrote to Umar Danbatta, executive chairman of the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), highlighting the implication of the directive.

Adebayo reportedly said by mid-day on Saturday, hub sites in Calabar area, Cross River state, would be shut down due to lack of diesel.

The letter read: “Following the directives by the Nigeria Customs Service in a circular dated Wednesday, November 6, 2019, directing all customs zonal coordinators not to allow petroleum product to be delivered to any filling stations within 20 kilometres radius of any border area in Nigeria.

“The directive is already having huge negative impact on our members’ operations and this may be significant if the necessary agencies of government do not urgently intervene in the situation.”

Maikanti Baru, the former group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), had raised the alarm about the increasing number of filling stations in border towns, saying they are funnels for smuggling fuel to neighbouring countries.

Court orders bank to pay N500,000 for refusing customer loan

A Chief Magistrate Court in Zuba, FCT, on Tuesday, ordered a micro finance bank to pay N500,000 as exemplary damages, over its failure to grant a loan facility to Ceco CC Investment after it met all requirements.

Magistrates Abdullahi Illelah entered the judgement in the case filed by Ceco CC Investment against Atlas Micro Finance Bank Limited.

The court ordered the bank to return the document belonging to Ceco CC Investment in its possession which was used to process the loan application and a further N200,000 as special damages and N20,000 as a cost were awarded.
Ceco CC Investment approached the court seeking recovery of title document used as collateral for obtaining a loan from the bank.

The company also claimed N3 million as damages and N500, 000 as cost of prosecuting the case.

The company approached the bank sometimes in September 2016 to obtain a loan to enable it clear its goods which arrived from China.

Part of the requirements for the loan was that the company must open account with the Bank, provides collateral and guarantors. After the company met the entire requirements, the Bank couldn’t provide the loan after several promises.

However, the company through its Managing Director Mr Charles Orji, disclosed that the Bank had returned the title document to the company in the course of the court proceedings.
Similarly, the Managing Director of the Bank told the court he did not know the Plaintiff (the Company).

He said that in one of the Bank’s management meetings, it realised that it had businesses around Suleja, Zuba and Dei-Dei which led to opening the Dei-Dei branch of the Bank.

He said shortly after opening the branch in Dei-Dei, many people went to the Bank’s headquarters with claims that they had applied for loans and their accounts were not credited with the loan facility.

He added that after checks on their systems, such applications were not in the banks’ system and subsequently the branch was closed.

The court in its judgment finds out that there was no contention to the fact that the bank was in possession of the title document and other documents presented to process the loan application.

It also held that the refusal or negligence of the bank to return the document to the company was wrong.

Air Peace plane makes air return after engine failure

 

A Boeing 737-500 aircraft, operated by Air Peace, with registration marks; 5N-BUJ, Monday, experienced engine snag, forcing the pilot-in-command to make an air return.

The flight departed the Murtala Muhammad Airport at  about 7:35am, heading to Owerri in Imo State, when the

The AIB official statement 9 explained that the incident occurred at 07:47 local time while the aircraft had departed Lagos at 07:35 local time.

Barely a week after Bristow Helicopters experienced engine failure mid-air, another Nigerian carrier, Air Peace, on Tuesday had an engine failure few minutes after departing Lagos.

It was gathered that the Air Peace aircraft, a Boeing B737-500 with the registration number 5N-BUJ, which departed the Murtala Muhammed Airport Lagos for Owerri, Imo State, made an air return to base following the incident that led to the collapse of one of its two engines.

It was learnt that the aircraft had 90 passengers and six crew members onboard as at the time of the incident.

A statement by the General Manager, Public Affairs, Accident Investigation Bureau confirmed the incident, saying that its investigators had commenced investigation into the incident.

The AIB explained that the incident occurred at 07:47 local time while the aircraft had departed Lagos at 07:35 local time.

According to him, information provided by the Air Traffic Control revealed that the incident made the crew to immediately make an air return back to base.

He, however, stated that the aircraft landed safely at 08:06 local time, adding that all occupants disembarked with no injury.

The statement reads, “The AIB team of safety investigators has commenced investigation.

“As the sole agency mandated to undertake the investigation of aircraft accidents and serious incidents, the bureau wants the public to know that it would be open to receiving any video clip, relevant evidence or information that may assist in this investigation.”

Buhari appoints ex-CBN boss, Sarah Alade special adviser on finance and economy

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment of Dr (Mrs) Sarah Omotunde Alade, as Special Adviser to the President on Finance and the Economy, domiciled in the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

Dr. Alade, who holds BSc (Economics) and PhD in Management Science (Operations Research), retired from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as Deputy Governor in 2017 after spending 23 years in the apex bank.

She had also acted briefly in 2014 as the CBN Governor.

Border closure: Goods coming into Nigeria must have 30% local input – FG

The Federal Government has said that goods coming into the country must have 30 per cent local input.

The government also stated that ECOWAS countries must respect rules of origin, vowing that Nigeria will no longer tolerate repackaging of imported goods.

These were some of the conditions handed down to ECOWAS countries clamouring the re-opening of the land borders which were shut over smuggling of rice, guns and other contrabands into Nigeria from the neighbouring countries.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama said this during the meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Temporary Partial Closure of Land Borders held at the ministry on Monday.

He maintained that goods imported for the Nigerian market must be escorted directly from the port of member states directly to the borders.

Buhari signs PSC bill into law

President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the bill seeking to amend the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin production sharing contract (DOIBPSC) Act into law.

The bill seeks to amend the act by reviewing the sharing formula to accrue more benefits to the federal government.

Nigeria is projected to earn an additional income of $1.4 billion annually from international oil companies operating in the country if the bill seeking to amend a particular section of the act is passed into law.

Buhari signed the much anticipated law from his residence in the UK where he is on a private visit.

Writing via his Twitter handle, he described the new law as “a landmark moment for Nigeria”.

Although Nigeria signed the first set of PSCs in 1993, while the DOIBPSC was enacted in 1999, failure to review the PSC act has reportedly caused the country to lose about $28 billion.

The amendment of section 16 of the production sharing contract act would generate at least $500 million as additional revenue for the federal government in 2020, and an estimated $1.4 billion as from 2021.

In a separate statement, the presidency quoted Buhari as saying with the new law, Nigeria will now receive its “fair, rightful and equitable share of income from our own natural resources for the first time since 2003″

“All this time Nigeria has failed to secure its equitable share of the proceeds of oil production, for all attempts to amend the law on the distribution of income have failed. That is, until today,” he said.

“Rapid reductions in the cost of exploration, extraction and maintenance of oil fields had occurred over these 25 years, at the same time as sales prices have risen.

“A combination of complicity by Nigerian politicians and feet-dragging by oil companies has, for more than a quarter-century, conspired to keep taxes to the barest minimum above $20 per barrel – even as now the price is some three times the value.

“Today this changes. For the first time under our amended law, 200 million Nigerians will start to receive a fair return on the surfeit of resources of our lands. Increased income will allow for new hospitals, schools, infrastructure and jobs.”

The president added that the amendment signals the beginning of beneficial relationship with oil company partners: “one that benefits all – starting with the Nigerian people”.

 

Arik Air not suitable for national carrier – Hadi Sirika

Hadi Sirika, the Minister of Aviation, says the federal government has no intentions to convert Arik Air into a national carrier.

Fielding questions from journalists at the end of the federal executive council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday, the minister said Arik Air will not be suitable for the carrier that the ministry is planning.

Ahmed Kuru, the managing director of the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), had urged the federal government to use the airline as a stepping stone in its quest to own a national carrier.

“The carrier that I intend to bring is such a carrier that will support the national economy, with $450 million GDP for 200million people, very equipped to compete favourably,” he said.

“The international airlines that have dominated Africa, 80% of those airlines are non-African. In view of the AU Agenda 2063, the Single African Aviation Market, we thought that there will be an airline that will take up that challenge; that will take advantage of it and be able to provide services to our people.

“Nigeria, being the first country to kick-start the declaration in 1999, to establish a one common market in Africa; at the time, we wanted to take advantage of the Nigeria Airways which was the strongest airline on the continent, and we thought that we could take advantage of that and it would pay Nigeria very well. Tables turned, decisions were reversed and now, Nigeria was unlucky to have an airline that can participate in that manner.

“So, the answer to your question is that Arik, as presently constituted, is not in line with the thinking of the ministry. It will not be able to give us that airline that we need. However, Arik as an entity, since it is private-sector driven, can either buy shares in the new ventures or invest in any manner in the business as presently approved.

“We are not saying once we have a national carrier, every other airline goes down. No. It is our duty to continue to support businesses.”

The federal government had unveiled the national carrier’s name and logo at the Farnborough International Airshow in London in July 2018 and plans for the airline was suspended in September of the same year.

Allow us export rice, Vietnamese government lobbies Nigeria

Vuong Dinh Hue, the Vietnamese deputy prime minister, has requested that his country be allowed to increase rice exports to Nigeria.

Speaking on Tuesday during a meeting with Adams Oshiomhole, chairman of the All Progressives Congress, the diplomat said his country would like to increase trade cooperation with Nigeria.

Soha, a Vietnamese news platform, quoted Vuong Dinh Hue as saying both countries have to strengthen their relations by cultural and sports exchanges.

Other agricultural items that the Vietnamese made a case for were cashew, seafood, leather shoes and textile.

Addressing journalists at the end of the meeting, Oshiomhole said he told the delegation that the government’s decision to restrict forex for rice importation will not be reversed.

“Nigerians should unanimously back the decision of the federal government to close the border until our neighbours try to respect the laws of fair and free trade. Nigeria must not and can’t be a dumping ground for imported food, imported rice and other smuggled chemicals and drugs from other countries,” he said.

“I think this is one policy that Nigerians across the party divide, across primordial sentiments, should salute the courage of President Muhammadu Buhari in closing down the borders.

“For too long, Nigeria has been a big brother to our neighbours. Now, that big brother is hurting and hurting very, very badly. We must secure ourselves as in the way you board an aircraft that if oxygen fails, and they drop the mask, you help yourself before helping others. This is the moment. We must close the borders even if we do it for two, three years, it doesn’t matter. So that our neighbours will begin to respect the rules of international engagement and trade.

“What has happened is that people relocate out of Nigeria, target Nigerian market, use our neighbours to compromise our own trade policies.”

 

Two million jobs coming as CBN plans N100bn textile funding

About two million jobs are to be created in the textile industry with the expected injection of massive cash to revive the comatose sector

Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor, said that the apex bank is looking at injecting N100 billion as its intervention in the Cotton, Textile and Garment (CTG) value chain.

The bankers’ bank has already disbursed about N50 billion to the cotton and ginning components.

Also on Wednesday, President Muhammadu Buhari said he had directed the CBN to pump money into the sector for the local production of textiles and garments

The President said the cotton, textile and garment sector had the capacity to transform Nigeria’s economy and refine the sector to bring about an industry capable of creating more than two million jobs.

While the President delivered his message at the 31st National Education Conference of the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN) in Abuja, Emefiele spoke after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the National Cotton Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN), Ginning Companies and Nigerian Textile Manufacturers Association and Armed Forces of Nigeria, Nigeria Police, Paramilitary Institutions & National Youth Service Corps also in Abuja.

The CBN governor said the bank’s intention was to ensure that local players took control of the cotton, textile and garment industry and get it revived to facilitate its job creation capacity.

Emefiele said already, “approval to a tune of N19.18billion has been granted to finance nine ginneries with a view to retooling their processing plants, while providing them with improved access to finance at single digit interest rate.”

The same support he said will be extended to the textile and garment firms, adding that the apex bank had invested heavily in local textile and garment factories “to retool and produce assorted uniforms for our uniformed services that meet international standards.”

According to him, “the CBN is improving the linkage between cotton farmers and ginneries, by ensuring that ginneries are able to off-take the high-quality cotton produced by cotton farmers.”

Emefiele also promised to work with the security agencies, to ensure that the finished uniformed for service personnel and the wastes generated “are treated as currency,” adding that the “highest level of security until they are delivered to the right clients or disposed accordingly.”

Emefiele noted that “production of uniform wears especially for the armed forces calls for high level security concerns in handling, transportation and storage.”

This he added “is to help sustain their operations and improve their production capacity.”

The CBN governor lamented that “smuggling of textiles goods alone is estimated to have cost the nation an import bill of over $4billion annually on textiles and apparel leading to a situation where most of the textile factories, all stopped operations and the workforce in Nigeria’s textile industry stands at less than 20,000 people today from about 2 million in the boom years.”

He was concerned that a large proportion of our clothing materials are imported from Asia and countries in Europe. But going forward, he said “there will be dedicated and carefully planned actions that are holistic and will encompass every node of the CTG value chain.”

The governor explained that the CBN  had constituted a Textile Revival Implementation Committee (TRIC) whose members include the CBN, Federal Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development; Water Resources; Industry, Trade and Investment; and the Governments of Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Gombe and Zamfara States.

“This Committee is driving the initiative to achieve self-sufficiency in cotton production and textile materials within a span of three years.”

President Buhari, who was represented by the Registrar, Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria, Prof. Josiah Ajiboye, called on the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) to facilitate training of textile workers to sustain current efforts at improving local garments production in the country.He noted that the administration was committed to improving the industries in the country with the signing of the Executive Order 003.

The president noted that the order mandates all “’procuring authorities to give preference to Nigerian companies and firms in the award of contracts, in line with the Public Procurement Act 2007.”

He explained that the CBN had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nigerian military and paramilitary outfits, as part of efforts to revive the Cotton, Textiles and Garment (CTG) sector in Nigeria.

Buhari said: “In recent time, the CBN has taken a number of commendable efforts to encourage patronage of local fabrics towards driving economic policy.

“I am glad to report to you that this is already yielding positive fruits. The existing 40,000 garments and textile workers must be trained and retrained, I will use this opportunity to call on the CBN to collaborate with your union and the ITF to come in and encourage the union to provide funds towards this end.”

General-Secretary of NUTGTWN, Issa Aremu, commended the federal government for closing Nigeria’s borders to end smuggling of goods into the country.

Aremu said the move was imperative as it was aiding production and consumption of local goods in the country.

National President of the union, John Adaji, noted that the Administration had shown commitment to revamping the textile industry with the introduction of a comprehensive Cotton, Textile and Garment (CTG) Policy.

Adaji said that the policy, if implemented, would help to meet federal government’s target of creating 100 million jobs in ten years, adding that the union had the capacity to create no fewer than 2.5 million jobs.

BUA Group consolidates entire cement business

 

In its bid to deepen the Nigerian capital market and enhance the growth of the cement industry, BUA Group, one of Africa’s largest conglomerates, on  Wednesday, announced the consolidation of its cement business comprising the publicly listed two million Mtpa Cement Company of Northern Nigeria Plc (CCNN) and  six million mtpa Obu Cement Company Plc.

This disclosure was made in a filing to regulators.

BUA also announced that its newest three million metric tonnes cement plant which it started constructing in 2018 – the $450m Sokoto Kalambaina II plant, is scheduled for completion in H2, 2020.

With the consolidation and addition of the Sokoto Kalambaina II plant, this will bring BUA Cement’s total installed capacity across all its cement holdings to 11 million MTPA.

Commenting, Abdul Samad Rabiu, Founder & Executive Chairman of BUA Group, said that this consolidation marks the culmination of the first phase of the BUA mid-term strategic plan for its cement businesses, which currently include four cement plants spread across Obu Cement Company and the Cement Company of Northern Nigeria. A new $450million Sokoto Kalambaina II Plant is scheduled to come on stream in the second half of 2020 alongside another 48MW power plant to complement the existing assets and take advantage of a growing cement market in Northern Nigeria and the West African region, Rabiu added.

“This consolidation will cement BUA’s position as the second largest cement producer in Nigeria whilst also positioning it to take advantage of the combined synergies to effectively serve Northern and Southern Nigeria based on the strategic locations of these plants – as well as a sizeable export market.

“We intend to continue creating value for the benefit of shareholders of the consolidated company by maintaining our focus on outperforming the Nigerian cement industry across key indices through a laserlike commitment to excellent products and service delivery, operational efficiency as well as maintaining our leadership positon in our home markets,” Rabiu said.

Analysts predict that this will put BUA Cement in a stronger position to compete even better and explore export opportunities in neighboring countries.

 

Customs seizes expired N2.7bn rice

The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Tin Can Island Command has seized 54 containers laden with various contrabands, including expired rice and banned drugs.

Thirty-three of the containers were loaded with foreign rice.

The NCS put the value of the seizure at N2.713 billion. The containers comprise 15 40ft containers and 39 20ft containers.

The rice consignment, for instance, Master Rice has its date of packaging and expiration as May 2016 and March 2019 respectively; Fragrant rice, packaged in October, 2018, with an expiration date on October, 2019, where both imported from Thailand; while Jasmine rice which was packaged on September, 2018, with expiration date on September, 2020, was imported from China.

The impounded rice, bagged in 50kg sacks, had the labels of Nigerian companies.

The Master Rice bags have the label of Masters Energy Commodities Trading Limited, with its address as 31A, Remi Fani Kayode Street, GRA, Ikeja.

Another consignment tagged: ‘Jasmine Rice’, had the inscription “packed for Yumfei International Trading Company Limited, with address as 103, Ebittu Ukiwe Street, Jabi, Abuja.

It was observed that one of the 40ft containers was loaded with fresh, empty 50kg bags with new dates inscribed on it. The implication is that these empty bags were to be used in re-bagging of the expired rice.

Customs Comptroller-General Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali, who briefed reporters at the Customs Examination Ground of the Tin Can Island Port, listed other seized items as: one container of rice concealed with spare parts, 11 containers of unregistered pharmaceutical products, two containers of used tyres, one container of used clothing and four containers of refined vegetable oil in retail packs.

He said the containers were seized in line with the provisions of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) Cap C45 LFN 2004 sections 46 and 161. The Customs boss added that efforts are on to arrest the persons behind the smuggling going by the various addresses on the bags of rice and contacts on importation documents.

Col Ali said: “One significant thing about this seizure is that all the rice has expired or about to expire. Also remarkable is the seizure of variants and unregistered performance enhancing drugs among the pharmaceutical.

“No doubt, those who imported these dangerous items do not wish us well. Imagine if they had succeeded in getting the expired rice in, re-bagged and changed the expiration date for Nigerians to consume.”

The Customs boss, revealed that since the inception of the border closure operation code-named: “Operation Ex Swift”, remarkable seizures have been recorded across the various facets of its operations.

He explained that the Service is aware that the partial closure of the land border has resulted in the diversion of some cargoes back to the nation’s seaports.

Following the continued closure of the land borders, consignments meant for the Nigerian markets are being routed through the seaports.

“Realising that there may be possible backslash to the closure of the land borders, I directed all seaports and airports to beef up their surveillance and intercept any illicit and prohibited consignment for which attempt for their smuggling may be made through these entry points.

“This decision was made considering that those consignments may have been paid for and the importers will devise means to ensure they are delivered to their warehouses in Nigeria,”Ali said.

Apapa gridlock: Rep blames shipping lines, seeks NPA relocation

The lawmaker representing Yagba-East/Yagba-West/Mopamuro Federal Constituency of Kogi State, Mr Leke Abejide, has called for the relocation of the Nigerian Ports Authority from the First Gate of the Apapa Port, as part of the measures towards reducing the gridlock in the area.

Abejide, at a press conference in Abuja on Monday, noted that the gridlock in Apapa had lasted four years and four months.

The lawmaker listed three steps that should be taken to remove the gridlock, one of which is the relocation of the NPA from the gate.

He said, “l have a different view of the solution currently used to address the current gridlock at the Apapa and Tin Can (Island Port). l have suggested this to the House, before the House’s standing committee was constituted.

“AP Moller Terminals/TICT/WACT must Automate their Terminal Delivery Order, which will be connected to their gate of entry and exit. What this means is that once you have TDO to load, there is no need for any human contact along the road or at the gate for such a truck to go in and load.

“It should be a constant movement for trucks with valid tickets uninterrupted. Once the truck driver gets to the gate, he only needs to place the ticket at the gate and it is automatically opened for entry. Any truck without a valid ticket (TDO) has no reason to even come near the port area after discharging its empty containers at Shipping Line Empty Containers Bay, which is 100km away from the port.

“Finally, my appeal to the Federal Government is to give priority to road constructions, especially those within the ports, and to be handled by tested construction companies as Julius Berger to handle Creek Road linking Tin Can Island, with a mandate to deliver within two months to avoid the trauma that port users pass through on the road where the nation earns its second-largest revenue.

“NPA has no business doing at the gate called First Gate at Apapa. If the port is under concession, they should allow the concessionaire to take charge and also automate the gate for uninterrupted movement of trucks in and out of Apapa Port.”

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According to Abejide, most of the shipping lines – if not all – are owned and operated by foreigners and “this makes it for them to care less about the agony Nigerians are passing through.”

He said, “It is about four years and four months that Apapa Port turned into a nightmare as a result of the gridlock firstly caused by MAERSKLINE/APMT system hacking. I want to tell you that if there is a breakdown in the entry and exit of Iaden tucks for just a minute, the kind of gridlock that will arise will be unprecedented, not to talk of their system that went down for almost six weeks or more. You can guess what the situation would be like. It would be chaotic as it is now at Apapa.

“As a result of this, more vessels arrived while the previously discharged containers could not be moved out due to APMT/MAERSK system breakdown container to pile up and up.”

Emefiele meets Buhari, says borders remain closed

The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, on Monday said that the nation’s land borders would remain closed until neighbouring countries agree to implement mutual anti-smuggling policies.

Emefiele said this after he met with President Muhammadu Buhari in Aso Rock.

Nigeria had closed its land borders since August, in order to curb smuggling of goods into the country.

Emefiele told State House correspondents after the closed-door meeting that Nigerian rice and poultry farmers have particularly benefitted from the border closure.

He said they (farmers) have been able to sell off accumulated produce, hitherto hindered by illegal importation and smuggling of the items into the country.

The CBN governor said “In November 2015 President Muhammadu Buhari, the CBN and some state governors went to Kebbi State to launch the Wet Season Rice Farming. Since then, we have seen an astronomical growth in the number of farmers who have been going into rice farming and our paddy production has gone up also quite exponentially.

“Between 2015 and also now, we have also seen an astronomical rise in the number of companies, corporate and individuals that are setting up mills, integrated mills and even small mills in various areas.

“We have been embarking on a programme where we are saying if you are involved in the business of smuggling or dumping of rice in the country, we close your account in the banking industry. And that is very effective.

“Recently, and this is the absolute truth, about two weeks before the border closure, the chairman of the Rice Processors Association – incidentally, he owns Umza Rice in Kano – called me and said that all the rice millers and processors are carrying in their warehouses nothing less than 25,000 metric tons of milled rice.

“This rice has been unsold because of the smuggling and dumping of rice through Republic of Benin and other border posts that we have in the country and that he would want us to do something about it.

“Secondly, we also have members of the Poultry Association of Nigeria who complained that they have thousands of crates of eggs that they could not sell; even some of the processed chickens that they could not sell, also arising from smuggling and dumping of poultry products into Nigeria.

“A week after the borders were closed, the same rice millers association called to tell us that all the rice that they had in their warehouses have all been sold.”