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Barratt Snaps up Selkirk Based Timber Firm

House building giant Barratt has bought up a Borders construction business with a view to its expansion.

Oregon Timber Frame currently employs 150 staff at its Selkirk base.

Barratt Scotland regional managing director Doug McLeod said it had worked with the firm for many years and knew what a “great team” it had

Oregon chairman Rod Lawson said they were proud of what they had achieved over the past two decades and were ready for the “next chapter”.

Barratt built more than 1,700 homes across Scotland last year and employs more than 650 staff around the country.

It has said that its new business – bought for an undisclosed sum – will remain based in Selkirk.

Barratt said it planned to expand Oregon in line with its aim to use more timber frame construction in its properties.

“We want to build more high quality homes using timber frames and bringing Oregon on board will help us to do that,” said Mr McLeod.

Source : BBC news

60 percent of Nigerians lack Access to Finance, says NDIC Boss

Managing Director of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Mr Umar Ibrahim, on Wednesday declared over 60 percent of Nigerians lack access to finance despite the proliferation of commercial banks in the country.

The NDIC boss said that the only way to lift Nigerians out of poverty was through massive inclusion in financial accessibility.

Ibrahim spoke in Abuja during a courtesy visit to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan.

The NDIC boss, who led top management team of the corporation on the visit, suggested the institutionalisation of the required financial accessibility for ordinary Nigerians and creation of more micro finance and payment service banks.

He also said that more financial institutions should be licensed and established at the hinterlands across the country for easy access to ordinary Nigerians.

Ibrahim said: “The issue of financial inclusion is very critical globally, we have a lot of statistics that indicate clearly that about 60% of Nigerians do not have access to finance.

“People travel for hundreds of kilometers before they can reach a branch of Commercial or micro finance Bank.

“There are local government and communities that do not have any branch of bank. They do not have ATM machines, they have nothing and you cannot achieve those without some kind of sustainable financial inclusion.

“We are working hard to ensure that the situation is changed in addressing the problem of poverty.

“In achieving this, Nigeria has signed ombudsman to eradicate or to eliminate the problem of access to finance.
“Measures have been taken to ensure that we gain more mileage in this area by way of establishing more micro finance banks, licensing mobile banks, creation of agent banks.”

He said that access to financial inclusion means not only walking into a bank or using his phone to make transactions but also allowing the citizen to be able to access information, get help, get small loans  in a responsive and responsible manner so that he or she can be able to have a sustainable livelihood and thriving  business.

The NDIC boss urged the Ninth National Assembly to revisit the request of the corporation for repeal and reenactment of its Act which failed to sail through during the Eight National Assembly.

He assured the corporation is putting up more stringent measures against financial and cyber frauds.

According to him: “We are working very hard on issues pertaining to fraud and forgery in the banks.
“We are interfacing with relevant offices and other stakeholders to minimize incidences of cyber crime in our banking system.

“The banks are being encouraged to ensure that they have full proof cyber security system so as to minimize the incidences of hacking which results in serious loses to the banking system and loss of earnings and loss of confidence.

“Part of the emerging trends globally in the banking space is the emergence of block chains technology and crypto currency. Crypto currency is one example of block chain technology. These are new innovations that can be effectively used in checkmating fraud.”

Lawan assured the NDIC boss that the 9th National Assembly will work on the Act the 8th Assembly could not finished.

The Senate President tasked the NDIC and the banking sector generally to provide required financial facilities for Nigerians interested in agriculture in line with the diversification policy of the government.

Lawan said: “In the Nigerian economy you have a role to play in that economy and for us we would want to achieve an economy where Nigeria is at advantage and Nigerians get equal doses of opportunity.

“Those at the very lowest ladder of society, those that are particularly disadvantaged should be given opportunities that ordinarily will not be available.

“This administration will want to emphasize particularly that banks hardly provide facilities for agricultural products but do to other projects, that is a big problem.

 “On one hand as a government, we want to diversify, we want to encourage agriculture but on the other hand, banks are not doing the needful for those who want to invest in the sector.

“The facilities are not easily met and where they are available the interest rates are out of the roof. This is enough to discourage our people and the trend must please be changed “.

Source: thenationonlineng

Single Mother Homeownership Rates in the U.S. Declining Nationally

Residential real estate brokerage firm Redfin is reporting this week that just 31.1 percent of single mothers in the U.S. owned homes in 2017, on par with the 2016 rate and down from 35.5 percent in 2010.

At 63.9 percent, the overall homeownership rate for households across the country was more than double that of single mothers, though it was also down from nearly 70 percent in 2010. Over the same time period, the national median home price rose by more than 40 percent.

The metros with the highest rates of homeownership among single moms tend to be relatively affordable. McAllen, Texas, where the typical home sells for $165,000, has the highest homeownership rate among metro areas with at least 20,000 single mothers in 2017, with 46.6 percent of single moms owning homes.

That’s followed by Salt Lake City (41.7%), Grand Rapids (41.5%) and Minneapolis (40.3%). All but two (El Paso and San Antonio) of the top 10 metros for single-mom homeownership have higher-than-national overall homeownership rates as well.

The four metros with the lowest rates of single-mom homeownership are all in California: Fresno (20.5%), Los Angeles (20.7%), San Diego (22.4%) and Bakersfield (22.6%). The metros with the lowest rates of homeownership among single mothers all have overall homeownership rates below the national rate.

“Although more single moms have entered the workforce since 2015, thanks in part to a growing economy, single mothers haven’t yet been able to gain increased wealth through equity from homeownership. That’s because in many expensive metros, single moms aren’t able to access the benefits of homeownership due to a lack of affordable homes for sale,” said Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather.

Fairweather continued, “But in areas like Salt Lake City and Minneapolis, single moms are better able to afford a home without a dual income or financial support from a partner. Beyond being a primary source for building wealth, owning a home can provide some necessary stability for children because homeowners have predictable monthly mortgage payments and don’t have to worry about a landlord raising rent or selling their home.”

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CBN’s Emefiele said Oil discovery Threatened Nigeria’s Economy

Governor Godwin Emefiele of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has stated that the discovery of oil is what exposed Nigeria’s economy to vulnerability.

While lamenting Nigeria’s dependence on crude oil revenues, Emefiele stressed that it has caused severe downturns in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors of the economy. He also stated that Nigeria’s dependence on crude oil has resulted in an over-dependence on a single commodity for survival.

 

More Details: According to the CBN boss, given Nigeria’s dependence on crude oil revenues for close to 86 percent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings and over 60 per cent of Government expenditure, the drop in prices in 2014 led to heightened inflationary pressures, depreciation of exchange rate, significant drop in external reserves, and eventually, the recession of 2016.

The neglected resolution: According to Emefiele, if Nigeria had maintained its market dominance in the palm oil industry which stood at 40 percent in the 70s, the country would be earning above $20 billion annually from the cultivation and processing of palm oil today. According to him;

“At a point in our nation’s history, Nigeria survived on revenues from the non-oil sector, to the extent that we were a dominant exporter of agricultural produce into the global market. Some of these products include cocoa, groundnuts, cotton and palm oil. Our focus in agriculture supported the raw material needs of our industrial sector and created employment opportunities for millions of Nigerians.

“Regrettably, the discovery of crude oil and the increasing reliance on crude oil revenues led to a severe downturn in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors, while also exposing our economy to the vulnerabilities that normally accompany an increased dependence on a single commodity for survival.”

 

Nigeria’s Palm Oil Production: According to the 2018 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) data, Nigeria produced a total of 1 million metric tonnes of palm oil out of the 73.3 million metric tonnes global palm oil production in 2018.

The industry has, over time, witnessed a downturn with its contribution to global market share at a meagre 1.4% as of 2018.

Source: nairametrics

Africa’s Free Trade Zone to Ease the Cost of Doing Business

Last month, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) finally came into being, opening the way for a continent-wide market of 1.2 billion people worth $2.5 trillion.

Fifty-two of the African Union’s (AU) 55 member states signed the deal, which is expected to boost regional and international trade. It will be the largest free trade agreement by population that the world has seen since the 1995 creation of the World Trade Organization.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, has been hailed as a game-changer for intra-African trade.

If properly implemented, it could provide a framework to ease the cost of doing business in Africa, but until the continent addresses nontariff barriers, such as infrastructure backlogs and border corruption, it is likely to fall far short of expectations.

This hasn’t stopped African countries from hyping up the agreement as a significant milestone on the road to creating a single African market and a single-currency union.

Various reports suggest that as a large, unified market of up to 1.2-billion people, the AfCFTA could attract up to $4-trillion in consumer spending and business investment; boost intra-African trade by 33%-52%, depending on the degree of tariff liberalisation; and generate a cumulative $3.4-trillion gain in GDP over the long term.

Intra-African trade is dismal at present, hamstrung by border delays and infrastructural constraints that account for the high logistics costs associated with doing business on the continent. The upshot is that intra-African trade accounts for only about 16% of Africa’s trade with the rest of the world, compared with 25% for Latin America and almost 50% for Asia.

The AfCFTA is supposed to forge a single continental legal regime for trade matters. It should include substantially lower tariffs, simplified rules of origin and customs procedures, and regulations for trade in services, as well as the remedies to use when these trade rules are broken.

However, the enforcement of a rules-based trading regime will depend on effective monitoring as well as African trading partners pursuing dispute settlement cases against one another, something they’ve traditionally shied away from.

SA — with its relatively diversified industrial export base on a continent where most countries still export primary commodities — should be one of the biggest winners from a continent-wide free-trade agreement, if implemented properly.

So should Nigeria, for the same reason. But its government appears concerned that the country’s nascent manufacturing base could be badly affected by competitively priced imports, and is undertaking further impact studies before it signs the agreement.

“With proper implementation, this agreement brings immense investment potential to Africa. By driving down the cost of trading across borders it can boost trade and open new markets on the continent,” says Tim Harris, CEO of Wesgro, the Western Cape government’s investment promotion agency.

“The liberalisation of services trade under the AfCFTA is especially significant, not only because it brings opportunities for [Western] Cape services exports, but also because improvements in, for instance, transport, communications and financial services further facilitate effective cross-border trade and investment,” he adds.

However, though the AfCFTA agreement came into force on May 30 for SA and the other 23 early adopters, there are as yet no tariff schedules, no rules of origin and no rules for specific services sectors to regulate trade between the signatories.

“These are sensitive and technically complicated matters and it may take quite some time before they are finalised,” says Gerhard Erasmus, professor emeritus at the University of Stellenbosch and an associate at the Trade Law Centre.

So though Africa is moving towards a more open way of doing things, and any progress in this direction should be welcomed, the agreement is unlikely to fulfil its ambitions any time soon.

Source: africapropertynews

Namibia Expects to Attract $1 Billion Worth of Investments

Namibia is to host a two-day economic summit which is expected to attract at least $1 billion worth of investments over the next two years, the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology said on Wednesday last week.

Namibia’s economy has contracted for the last two years, and the southwest African nation has been ravaged by a drought which the meteorological services estimate to be the deadliest in 90 years.

The economic summit, which will take place from July 31 to Aug. 1 in the capital Windhoek, is aimed at reviving and growing the Namibian economy, creating job opportunities and attracting investment opportunities, the ministry said in a statement.

It will also seek to promote Namibia as an investment and tourist destination as well as identifying and removing bottlenecks that are slowing the growth of the local economy.

The International Monetary Fund projects that Namibia’s economy, which contracted by 0.8% and 0.1% in 2017 and 2018 respectively, will mildly contract again this year due to poor rains and reduced diamond production.

About 600 delegates from across the country, Africa and the world are expected to attend the summit, which is the first of its kind.

“The summit will provide a platform to showcase growth and investment prospects in the local economy as well as present local and international investors with a portfolio of investment projects in several sectors,” the ministry said.

Source: africapropertynews

Dangote Cement To Open Export Facilities

As part of moves to boost foreign exchange and capacity production, Dangote Cement will open export facilities in Lagos and Port Harcourt this year.

The company stated that the opening of export facilities would attract about $700 million foreign exchange into the Nigerian economy.

Also, Dangote Cement said it would continue to consider all strategic and financial options for the company to sustain its performance, saying that its 2019 outlook for was exciting.

The chairman of Dangote Cement, Aliko Dangote, at the company’s 10th Annual General Meeting held in Lagos noted that “As an organisation, we are focused upon improvement in all areas and I wish to pay tribute to all our staff for their constant efforts achieving the vision of our board and executive team.”

He recalled that only a few years ago, Nigeria was one of the world’s largest importers of cement, saying that “Thanks to the effort of shareholders, we are continuing its transformation into an exporter of this basic but vital commodity.”

Dangote said that later in 2019, the company would open export facilities in Lagos and Port Harcourt that would enable the company to export clinker, initially to its grinding facility in Cameroon and then to new grinding plants the company is building in West Africa, adding that the company plan to build new integrated factories in Nigeria and Niger that would strengthen its position as Africa’s leading cement producer.

He explained that not only would these generate useful foreign currency for Dangote Cement to support other expansion projects outside of Nigeria, they would also help to increase the output of the Nigerian plants, saying that these would help to improve job creation and increase prosperity in Nigeria.

According to him, the plans of the company will definitely attract a $700 million foreign exchange into the Nigerian economy through exporting of the products, thereby helping the federal government and also the group in its other activities across Africa.

“We have a lot of on-going projects aimed at increasing capacity and by next year, we will not only export one million tons as we normally do now, we will be servicing both the domestic and other African countries from Nigeria. We will have a capacity of about eight million tons to export and that will generate a foreign exchange of about $700 million into the country.”

The chairman of Dangote also said that “We will continue to improve our efforts in sustainability by applying the Dangote way to the seven Sustainability Pillars of our business culture and operations.”

Meanwhile, shareholders at the AGM were all in high spirits and full of praise to the board and management of the company, after the sum of N16 was approved as a dividend on each 50 kobo share.

Shareholders through their respective association heads, lauded the decision to increase dividend payout by 52.4 per cent from the N10. 50 per share that was paid in the corresponding period of 2017.

Dangote expressed optimism on the prospect of the company, revealing that the company would be effectively operating in a minimum of 18 African countries in a short while by increasing the capacity of its Obajana Plant to 16 million metric tons, making it one of the biggest cement plant in the world.

“All these, surely will translate to an enhanced value appreciation to the shares of Dangote cement and more money in the pockets of the shareholders,” he told the excited shareholders.

Speaking on the company’s performance in 2018, Dangote described the year as the most successful for the company as it recorded an increased in cement sales by 7.4 per cent to 23.5 million tonnes and 11.9 per cent growth in revenues to N901.2 billion.

He further said, “Sales of cement from our Nigerian plants increased by 11.4 per cent to 14.2 million metric tons in 2018. Our pan-African operations contributed 9.4 million metric tons, level on 2017, with strong performances in Cameroon, Senegal and Zambia helping to offset weaknesses in Ethiopia and gas turbines now operating in Tanzania, we expect these two large plants to improve their performance in 2019, further increasing profitability.”

Noting that the future looks very bright for the company, the group chief executive officer, Eng. Joseph Makoju, said the company in 2019, would focus on efficiency gains and achieving higher sales in domestic and export markets.

He said, “A major priority for us is to get these export terminals on stream so we can replace non-African imports in Cameroon, rake in foreign currency for Nigeria and increase the utilisation of our Nigerian plants.”

National coordinator of the Independent Shareholders Association (ISA), Chief Sunny Nwosu, expressed satisfaction at the performance of the company describing it as remarkable and unprecedented. He then advised the management not to rest on its oars as the shareholders would be expecting more in the next accounting year.

Beside the performance of the company, Nwosu also noted that the sustainability report of the company was very commendable and that nobody would not like to associate with a company like Dangote Cement with a track record of good corporate governance and sustainability development.

Dangote Cement has production capacity of 45.6 million tonnes per year across 10 countries in sub-Sahara Africa. The company has integrated factories in seven countries, a clinker grinding plant in Cameroon and import and distribution facilities for bulk cement in Ghana and Sierra Leone. Together, these operations make the company the largest cement producer in Sub-Saharan Africa.

CAP Plc will use its entire profit after tax to pay dividends

Chemical and Allied Products (CAP) Plc, a subsidiary of UAC of Nigeria Plc, has declared a dividend of 290 kobo per share for the financial year ended December 2018. This implies that the entire CAP Plc’s Profit After Tax of N2.03 billion will be spent on the dividend payout.

The declaration came in the course of the company’s 54th Annual General Meeting, which held recently in Lagos. Shareholders of the firm unanimously endorsed the dividend payout.

CAP Plc
L-R: Group Managing Director, CAP Plc., Omolara Elemide; President, Dulux Decorators Club, Lagos State Chapter, Sam Unwene, Member of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Allen Oseghale and Marketing Manager, CAP Plc., Dominic Oladeji.

The Company’s Financial Performance: According to the Acting Chairman of CAP Plc, Mr Solomon Aigbavboa, the company posted a turnover of N7.76 billion, representing a growth of 9% over N7.11 billion recorded the year before.

Similarly, operating profit increased by 15% to N2.08 billion over the corresponding period in 2017. The total assets of CAP Plc also grew significantly by 26% to N6.31 billion from N5.01 billion in the corresponding period in 2017.

He affirmed that CAP Plc managed to achieve a positive performance despite the fact that 2018 was pretty challenging for business.

Company to Explore New Opportunities: The board of directors expressed optimism that an improved economy would yield increased returns in 2019, assuring shareholders that CAP Plc would leverage emerging opportunities to improve performance in the current year.

According to the Acting Chairman, the economy would gain traction this year by reason of stronger household consumption and public spending, which is expected to impact the company’s business positively.

“Your company is closely following developments at all levels and is prepared to key into opportunities that will be created. We are equally poised to take advantage of other structured reforms of the Federal Government, which might impact the housing and real estate sector.” -Aigbavboa

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).

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