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Nigeria remains the best place to invest, says Osinbajo

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo says Nigeria remains the best place to invest, given the population of the country.

In its 2019 state of the world population report, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) pegged Nigeria’s population at 201 million.

Speaking at an interactive session with foreign policy experts at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, US, on Monday, Osinbajo said the potentials of the country will keep attracting companies and investors.

According to a statement by Laolu Akande, his media aide, Osinbajo said the “potential, effort and impact being made by Nigerians in technology can enable the country roll out indigenous technology solutions that can transform the global space”.

He said government would leverage the efforts and resourcefulness of the vast  population of youth to actualise potentials in the sector.

“Our potential in technology and entertainment has been attracting huge attention,” he said.

“First is the market, at 174 million GSM phones, we are among the top ten telephone users in the world, and we have the highest percentage of people who use internet on their phones in the world.

“We are also number two in mobile internet banking in the world, and 17 million Nigerians are on Facebook. Microsoft has announced that it will establish a 100 million dollar African Development Centre in Nigeria.

“Second is the ever-growing number of technology startups, young digital entrepreneurs who are creating solutions to value chain and logistics challenges and creating thousands of jobs in the process.

“Andela, a software company training software developers for many Fortune 500 companies received a $24m dollar investment from Facebook.”

During the session, Osinbajo was asked about Nigeria’s stance on the issue of 5G rollout.

He said even though Nigeria is yet to roll out 5G, the country will do so eventually.

“We do not have those complications (comparatively) in taking decisions in that regard. But, we practically welcome every company that wants to do business with us in Nigeria. Huawei is in Nigeria and so are all the other technology companies,” he said.

“We haven’t gone through any kind of decision making for rolling out the 5G technology; as a matter of fact we are going to roll out 5G ourselves. Talking about the equipment and technology; how did the Chinese get it? How did anyone else get the technology? We will do it ourselves.”

Anti-graft Hammer Falls On Power Sector As Court Jails Ex-MD, 4 Others

The present administration’s war on corruption recorded major success in the power sector with the jailing of a former MD and four top officials of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA). They were convicted for their involvement in a N5.2billion rural electrification project contract scam.

They were jailed at the weekend by Justice Adebukola Banjoko of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Abuja.

The convicts are the agency’s former managing director, Engr. Samuel Ibi Gekpe, Simon Kirdi Nanle, an accountant, Engr. Kayode Orekoya, director of Projects, Abdulsamad Garba Hahun, an assistant director and Kayode Oyedeji, head of Legal Department.

Justice Banjoko, however, absolved a former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Power, Dr. Abdullahi Aliyu, of any wrongdoing in the N5.2billion fraud, for which Gekpe and the other officials were found guilty.

They were found guilty of all the 65-count charge preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Aliyu and the convicted officials were prosecuted by the EFCC for allegedly defrauding the federal government of N5.2billion.

Specifically, the defendants were charged to court for criminal breach of trust, which they perpetrated by awarding contracts for grid extension and solar electricity from the amended 2008 budget of REA.

The court had upheld the “no-case” submission by Aliyu on appeal and was subsequently discharged and acquitted.

In the judgement delivered on Friday, Justice Banjoko dismissed the application of Gekpe, the first defendant, where he challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case.

On the substantive charge, the court noted that the prosecution had established by way of evidence, all ingredients of the offences levelled against the defendants.

The judge held that the matter was a clear manifestation of dishonesty as the contract awards were well crafted to boycott laid down process.

Banjoko, however, noted that the federal government did not incur any loss and that the prosecution could not prove that the defendants diverted the funds meant for rural electrification to their personal use.

Accordingly, the defendants were convicted and sentenced. The 1st defendant was sentenced to three years imprisonment with an option of N5million fine payable within one month, while the 3rd- 6th defendants were sentenced to three years imprisonment with an option of N500,000 fine each.

The permanent secretary and the directors were accused of fraudulently facilitating the withdrawal of the sum of N119.7million from the account of the REA, domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

CBN Gives Banks Three Months to Withdraw Mutilated Notes

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has opened a three-month window from June 3 to September 2, for customers across the country to replace their mutilated naira notes with new ones across all banks.
The new order is as a result of its resolve to finally replace mutilated, old naira notes in Nigeria, after the failure of banks to heed previous directives.Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Isaac Okoroafor, disclosed this over the weekend in Lagos, at a CBN sensitisation session with stakeholders in the Southwest, including labour unions, on the direction of the economy.

Okoroafor said CBN has set up departments to listen to customers’ complaints if banks refused to heed the order, adding that the move became imperative due to infractions noticed from some banks in the way new notes are being handled.

He said CBN has been replacing lower denominations across the country by going through the local markets and transport unions instead of the banks, because of the approach of some banks to the issue.He said the cashless policy, which was stopped due to infrastructure deficits will soon return, as telecommunication firms have been empowered to become Payment Service Banks (PSB).He listed the achievements of the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, which enabled him to renew his mandate to continue to lead the nation’s economy to the path of greatness.

Vice President, Industrial Global Union, Issa Aremu, commended CBN’s initiative in revamping the economy, and called on the Governor to continue his developmental mission by ensuring inflation rate is reduced to a single digit level.He urged Emefiele to continue his defence of the CBN autonomy, while commending President Muhammadu Buhari for reappointing the governor.

Source: GuardianNg

BREAKING: CBN to Raise Minimum Capital Base of Banks

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced that it would embark on another recapitalisation of the banking system in the country.

This information was made known on Monday morning by Governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, in Abuja.

The CBN chief, while unveiling his policy direction for 2019 to 2024, disclosed that the regulator will raise the minimum capital base from its present level.

Business Post reports that the last time the banking industry experienced recapitalisation was in 2004, during the tenure of Professor Chukwuma Soludo as the CBN Governor.

During the recapitalisation exercise, the minimum capital for banks operating in the country was pushed up to N25 billion from N1 billion for existing banks and N2 billion for new entrants.

The banks were then given till December 31, 2005 to meet up with the new requirement. This brought about mergers in the sector and at the end, only 25 banks made the cut.

More information later.

Source: businesspostng

Emefiele Unveils New CBN 5-year Plan

I agree with Robert  Zelwin Aliber, (the celebrated professor emeritus of International Economics and Finance at the University of Chicago) that  “Central Bankers Read Election Returns, Not Balance Sheets’. I agree with him, perhaps no less than the 11th and newly reappointed Governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele.

Yours comradely shares the tested and verifiable  perspective that Central Banking worldwide can be likened to a good (economic) driver, which must keep an eye on the road and maintain steady hands on the wheel for a good (economic) ride.

Emefiele’s CBN from the standpoint of monetary policy and development financing commendably endeared the hearts of some critical voters in recent polls in favour of the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari as the 4th democratically elected President in this 20-year sustained democratic process.

Godwin Emefiele, a former Group Managing Director of Zenith Bank, and multiple degrees holder in  Finance and Insurance was first appointed on June 2, 2014 by then President Goodluck Jonathan.

As a doubter of the capacity and independence  of a bank player/operator turned regulator, I had expressed “let’s wait-and-see” attitude to his appointment as much as I did when Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (who also came from First Bank) was appointed as CBN Governor by the then Late President Musa Yar Adua.

Five years after eventful activist autonomous central banking, I bear witness that Emefiele is a Governor with an eye on the bigger picture of the economy, balancing the bank mandate with the objectives of national economy. Countries preoccupied with growth and development issues use their Central Banks to keep the economy on course through activist macro economics with respect to pricing, (inflation), exchange rates, interest rates, capacity utilisation, employment, external reserves building and above all, development financing. debt management.

South Africa’s Federal Reserve and its remarkable performance with respect to macroeconomics are central to the successive victories of ANC government since 1994 confirming the validity of the received wisdom that the Bank of last resort anywhere works towards growth and development, capacity utilization and employment creation.

In the last five years, Emefiele’s CBN has recorded significant successes with respect to price and financial stability and macro economics in general. As Emefiele unfolds the vision for the next five year tenure, the challenge is to consolidate on the globally acknowledged monetary policies and be open to further engagement with all relevant stakeholders.

The CBN within the context of its enabling Act that guarantees its autonomy must continue to maintain sound financial structure, promote monetary stability, safeguard the value of naira and stable exchange rate, prove a financial adviser to the federal government in the areas of price and exchange rate management, development financing, building foreign reserves  and employment creation.

Remarkably on the Exchange rate management  Emefiele has through varying creative interventionist measures that include flexible exchange rates (in interbank market) in 2016 to multiple windows FX management for whole sale, invisible, small and medium enterprises (SME) and Investors/Exporters windows maintained stability.

The positive result of  exchange rate stability in the range of N305/$ in the inter bank market and N360/$ in the BDC (Bureau De Change) segment must be sustained and improved upon. The most remarkable outcome is FX availability, a departure from the scarcity of the past. In the next five years, CBN must consolidate of the exchange rate availability and stability so as to allow for planning and investment decisions.

CBN must resist  the pressures to return to  “staggering and undulating foreign exchange rate in relation to the naira”. Certainly the CBN must sustain the measures that “stabilise the exchange rate amidst escalated pressures from speculators, bettors, round-trippers and rent-seekers.”

CBN must also continue the efforts to build the external reserves which currently stand at $47.3 billions compared to the all time low of $22 billions in 2016. The point cannot be overstated that the CBN’s  restriction on 43 items (that include textiles) from accessing foreign exchange (forex) had impacted positively on manufacturing and real sector growth through import substitution and employment generation.

The policy objectives, such as encouraging local production of the items and boosting local industries suffocated by the importation of competing products, are being realized. I agree with the governor that “, it is our collective duty to ensure that the potential and prospects of the economy are optimally realized.

The ongoing economic recovery requires the joint efforts and wise counsel of everyone, if we must take giant strides forward”.

This means beyond the creative monetary measures of the CBN, the fiscal authorities with respect to electricity supply, fighting smuggling and dumping (customs department) (CBN has also commendably denied smugglers FX), trade policies  must compliment with new activist measures that would boost domestic manufacturing.

President Buhari in his June 12 inaugural address announced ambitious plan to create 100 million jobs in a decade. With robust monetary policy and sustained  development financing and complementary fiscal measures that include buying what we produce, the objective of full employment  is obviously achievable.

All said the new vision of the Mr Emefiele must also be within the context of the broad national agenda contained in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and of course the Sustainable Development Goals 17 2030. Which again underscores an urgent call for a new partnership for growth and development of Nigeria.

Source: Dailytrustng

JUST IN: Another building collapses in Lagos

A building has collapsed in the densely populated Oshodi area of Lagos.

The incident occurred on Sunday morning at 35, Adesanya Street, Mafoluku.

Owolabi Odufuwa, a witness who passed through the area Sunday afternoon, told PREMIUM TIMES he saw seven people removed from the pile of rubble.

They have been taken to the hospital, the witness said.

Lagos State first responders have arrived at the neighbourhood to cordon off the scene in the aftermath, witnesses said.

A spokesperson for the police in Lagos did not immediately answer or return calls seeking comments.

Buildings around Lagos have long been identified as prone to disasters, especially because many were constructed without due permission from the town planning office.

At least 10 building collapses have been recorded in the state in the last 12 months, including one that killed about 20 people, including schoolchildren, in Lagos Island in March

The deal that helped Lafarge stock gain 18% in less than a week.

Embattled Cement Industry giant, Lafarge Africa (Nigerian listed) was among the top best stocks for the week ended June 23, 2019, gaining an impressive 18.46%.  Lafarge Africa has been down by over 20% YTD and over 70% in the last year.

What happened? During the week, the company informed the stock market that it had reached an agreement to spin off its loss-making South African entity. The deal is expected to wipe off the company’s foreign currency debt which is incidentally owed to its parent company Lafarge Holcim. The news played favourably with investors, helping the company’s shares to rally by 18.4%.

The deal, in a nutshell, will see Lafarge Africa agree to sell its South African Subsidiary to Caricement (a subsidiary of Lafarge Holcim) for a purchase consideration $316.2 million. However, the amount will be used to pay off existing loans of about $293 million plus accrued interest.

  • Shareholders of Lafarge will not be expecting any major cash windfall from this transaction as the purchase consideration will be used to set off Lafarge Africa’s foreign currency debt.
  • However, clearing the debt helps strengthen Lafarge’s balance sheet which has over the years been marred by dwindling sales and increasing losses from its South African entity.
  • Lafarge Africa can then use part of its unencumbered cash flows to finance news investments especially building modern and cost-efficient cement plants that can compete with BUA and Dangote Cement.
  • The deal appears positive for Lafarge Africa Shareholders as they will not have to write off their investment in the South African entity which they opine will cost them about N70 billion in impaired losses.

 

What next: Lafarge has reported falling profits for the last 5 years posting losses in both 2017 and 2018 respectively. For example, while the Nigerian entity posted a profit of N38.6 billion in 2018 (2017: N30.1 billion) compared to South Africa losses of  N13.7 billion 2018 (2017: N22.2 billion). It reported profits in the first quarter of 2019 on the back of lower net interest cost.

With the South African entity out of the way, Lafarge Africa can focus on growing its Nigerian entity and competing in a market dominated by Dangote Cement and fragmented along regional lines.

Shareholders will expect to see a steady rise in the share price of Lafarge which at Friday’s closing price of N11.5 is still far from its 5 year high of N107.

This transaction also underscores how critical the Nigerian market is when compared to its sub-Saharan counterparts. Despite the prevailing harsh economic conditions and slowing GTB, most sectors are still able to post strong operating profit margins.

With Growing Extreme Poverty, Nigeria’s ‘Emerging Middle Class’ Is Leaving –John Campbell, Ex-US Ambassador To Nigeria

Former United States of America’s Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, has said in his latest blog post that there is a trend that Nigeria’s emerging middle class is leaving the country for greener pastures.

Campbell, in an article written on Council on Foreign Relations’ website titled, ‘Nigeria’s “Emerging Middle Class” is Leaving’, noted that about half of Nigeria’s population lives in extreme poverty, in absolute number more than any other country in the world.

He said: “Boosters often like to talk about an ‘emerging middle class’ in Africa. Leaving aside definitional issues—who is middle class varies from country to country—in some African countries a middle class does seem to be growing, though it is not as big or growing as fast as some of the media hype implies. Nigeria, with its huge population, is one of the countries that commentators often look to.”

Continuing in his report, he added: “But Quartz Africa identified the fact that many of those who are tech-savvy or have other job qualifications in demand—current or potential members of such a middle class—are leaving. Many seek to raise their families abroad and do not intend to come back. Popular destinations include Canada and Australia, both of which have skills-based immigration programs. Others, for example, deliberately overstay their visas in the United States, which has led to a crackdown on US visas for Nigerians.”

The former American envoy stated further: “Drivers of middle class immigration, according to Quartz, include the breakdown of the Nigerian educational system at virtually all levels, high unemployment and poverty levels in Nigeria, and a general disillusionment with the country’s political leadership. In the March 2019 presidential elections, only 35 percent of those registered actually voted. Even taking into account voter suppression, which did occur, the figure is not encouraging.”

According to an Afrobarometer survey of 34 African countries, the younger and more educated a person is, the more likely they are to consider emigrating.

“About half of Nigeria’s population lives in ‘extreme poverty, in absolute number more than any other country in the world,” said Campbell. “The poor can emigrate, but they are more likely to cross an adjacent border in the search for work.”

The Afrobarometer reports that most Africans that consider immigrating, consider doing so to another African country.

Facebook’s Co-founder revealed something about Libra that should interest Emefiele

One of Facebook‘s Co-founders, Chris Hughes, has come out to sound the alarm over the company’s new cryptocurrency – Libra.

Facebook’s unveiling of its digital currency elicited quite a number of reactions from the social media community, including one from Hughes who became a prominent critic when he trended early this year for calling for the breakup of the company.

According to Hughes, Libra will not be a decentralised platform as it’s been purported to be. Instead, it will be a shift of power from central banks around the world towards multinational corporations thereby making Facebook more powerful.

 

More Details: The former Facebook founder laid bare his concerns about how Libra could change the way things work and can also end up destabilizing the same emerging economies Facebook claims it is trying to empower.

Perhaps, the most significant comment Hughes made is one that should interest, CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele. According to the Facebook Co-founder;

“If enough people trade out of their local currencies, they could threaten the ability to emerge market governments to control their monetary supply, the local means of exchange, and, in some cases, their ability to impose capital controls.”

The CBN Governor is big on capital control which is basically using government powers to limit the inflow and outflow of forex out of the country. For example, banning access to forex for 41 items. With Libra, importers can simply pay for goods by completing bypassing the CBN.

Facebook unveils Libra, a new global digital currency

Note that Hughes happens to be one of the people who believe that Libra is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. Some think it will be a threat to Bitcoin while others think it would not because Bitcoin has privacy and it is uncensorable.

Besides Facebook’s Libra has a list of partners which includes Mastercard, Visa, PayPal, Stripe, eBay, Uber, Lyft, Spotify, Coinbase, Xapo, Andreessen Horowitz, Union Square Ventures, Mercy Corps, and Women’s World Banking, among others.

Hughes, who met Mark Zuckerberg while the two were students at Harvard University, joins the growing list of former Facebook executives publicly voicing their concerns about the company.

Try these insurance policies if you own a business

Unforeseen circumstances that occur anytime when it comes to running a business. However, with the right insurance covers, you can scale through such times without tears.

At face value, the decision not to purchase an insurance package may seem like a smart money move; after all, you’re saving money. But that’s quite on the contrary. Insurance is so important, so much so it could even be the difference between the death and longevity of your business. Therefore, getting insurance is a sure way to have peace of mind. With insurance, you can rest assured that no matter what happens, your business will keep on grinding.

On that note, we will be looking at the different types of insurance packages you should get to help protect your business from damages. Let’s get started:

Business owner’s policy (BOP)

BOPs include coverage every business owner needs. It contains vehicle coverage, business interruption insurance, liability insurance, crime insurance, and property insurance all in one package. However, you can choose what you want in a BOP according to your specific needs. Why this policy is attractive is that it allows you to spend less than if you were to buy these individual policies separately.

Property Insurance

If you own or have rented a place for your business activities, and you also have inventory, equipment, and other physical assets, then you need property insurance. It covers against theft, vandalism, storm, fire, smoke damage, and so on. This insurance does not cover floods. That’s another type of policy. You will need flood insurance if the area your facility is located faces such a risk.

Renter’s Insurance

This policy is for you if you’ve rented your building for private or commercial use. It provides protection against injury within the property, damage to the physical property itself or to the items within the premises.

Home-based Business Insurance

Do you own a house? Then you will have taken a step in the right direction by buying Homeowner’s Insurance. It protects you against damages to the building or to any property inside it. However, if you decide to run a business from home, then you also need additional insurance referred to as Home-based business insurance.

Business Interruption/Loss of Earning Insurance

In the event that your business cannot operate for a period of time due to some incident, you can cover the income loss with this insurance. It’s especially necessary if you operate from a fixed location, such as a retail store.

General Liability Insurance

No matter the type of business you run, people can claim that your employees, products, or services have caused them harm. Therefore, this policy covers Property Damage or Bodily Injury that the afore-mentioned have caused or allegedly caused a third party. It also covers your defence.

Product Liability Insurance

Even when you have taken all measures to ensure that the products you offer are entirely safe, a consumer might still have a bad experience. That’s why it’s important you get product liability insurance. It covers any damages your product may have caused a consumer. It is tailored according to the type of product you sell.

Professional Liability Insurance

You can get sued for negligence should you fail to render or improperly rendering professional services. This is applicable if you own a service-based firm. Lawyers, hair salons, real estate agents, accountants, consultants, you name it, need this policy. General liability insurance does not provide defence or cover damages from such situations. This policy is therefore entirely different. It is also referred to as Errors and Omissions Insurance. It is tailored according to the nature of the service you render.

Commercial Auto Insurance

Does your firm own vehicles that are used for product or service delivery on a regular basis? Then you need this insurance. It’s also required if you own vehicles that transport inventory or carry your employees. In a situation where your workers use their own cars for your business activities, and they probably don’t have insurance or have inadequate coverage, you should consider getting Non-owned Auto Liability insurance to protect your firm.

Worker’s compensation

This policy gives protection (medical benefits and wage compensation) to employees who are injured while carrying out their duties. If a workplace accident happens, the employee surrenders his rights to sue the employer. It is therefore important to get this insurance so as to save your firm from facing legal action.

Directors and Officers Insurance

When the actions of the directors and officers of your firm have brought legal action against them, D&O insurance covers any damages brought about by the lawsuit. It also covers defence costs.

Data Breach Insurance

Your firm might keep sensitive data or private information that pertains to clients or employees. You are charged with keeping such data and information safe. Whether they are kept in paper files or stored on servers or computers, it’s possible they can get into the wrong hands, in which case data breach is said to have occurred. Data Breach insurance will cover damages and costs incurred from a lawsuit should such a situation arise.

Life insurance

With life insurance, you have peace of mind that your loved ones will not face financial difficulties in the event of your untimely demise. The insurer will have to pay the named beneficiary upon your death. This type of insurance is important whether or not you are a business owner.

Running a business means taking calculated risks, but there are events you can’t control. Lawsuits, accidents, theft, vandalism, fire outbreak, and natural disasters can happen at any time. By having all the necessary insurance packages, you can protect your business from heavy financial loss and ensure continuity.

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