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Trademore Refutes Land Grab Accusations in Abia

Estate development giant, Trademore International Limited and Chairman, Engr. (Dr) Emmanuel Mbaka have refuted purported claims by a former commissioner in Abia state, Eze Chikamnayo, suggesting that over 10, 000 plots of land were illicitly transferred them.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the company regards the open letter by Eze Chikamnayo as a spurious attempt to taint the company and its chairman’s image.

The statement read: ‘’We wish to clarify that as a business man with proven competence and corporate integrity, Engr. Dr Mbaka and Trademore International Limited do not and will not be associated with controversies that will taint our hard earned image over the years.

‘’We have consistently contributed to the economic advancement of our beloved country through multiple investments in many Nigerian cities including Abuja, and our chairman has led several business and corporate organisations.

‘’After great successes in many parts of Nigeria, we thought it was time to reward the love of our people by extending businesses and opportunities that will better the lives of the people of Abia through employment and entrepreneurships.

‘’Contrary to any claim or suggestion of land grabbing, all we have done is change the narrative about our people and reclaim our spot as an economically viable state. We are not a party to any shady deal whatsoever and have only conducted legitimate businesses and transactions both in Abia and everywhere else.’’

According to the statement, the land hosting the Umuahia event centre was neither grabbed nor forcefully taken away from anybody. The statement read that the land was legally acquired by the then Governor of Abia state, Chief T A Orji in accordance with the provisions of land use Act, with verifiable evidences.

‘’We must join hands to develop and move Abia state forward and stop castigating the character and integrity of Abians who have selflessly sacrificed their resources and time to make Abia a great state.

‘’Our investments in the state haven’t even yielded any benefits yet, and sometimes we take it to be a form of corporate social responsibility. Our ultimate dream is to be part of the Abia state that will attract more investments and business opportunities.

‘’We categorically distance ourselves from any brewing controversy and wish to highlight our image as a business with proven competence and integrity – the pillar upon which our success stories have been reliant on.’’

The statement berated the writer for not doing a thorough background check before embarking on what was referred to as a desperate attempt to smear and blackmail innocent people.

How to Differentiate Yourself in an Overcrowded Real Estate Industry

The real estate industry is brimming with eager agents ready to differentiate themselves from the crowd. Every year, real estate agents look for emerging trends and new inspiration at national conventions and workshops alike.

The real industry trendsetters, however, are those professionals that are driving the new trends and teaching innovative concepts. Still, many agents try following in the footsteps of the most successful professionals, instead of paving their own unique path.

Differentiation always starts with one step: brainstorming. Every agent has something that sets them apart, but it is not always obvious. Even talents and interest that are not directly relevant to real estate can help immensely with branding and marketing.

Key Takeaways

  • Brainstorm to determine your unique gift and its potential benefits for your career
  • Reach out to family and friends if you are having trouble identifying your gift
  • Take control of your idea and think about exactly how to use it in your business (i.e., branding and marketing)

First, you need to understand that the gurus making industry headlines are not much different than you. The only difference is that she took a creative risk, tried something different, committed to an idea, and made sure that it would pay off. Metaphorically speaking, she got up from her window seat, walked right past her colleagues, kicked open the door to the cockpit, and bumped the pilot from his seat and took the controls.

Now, let’s assume you’re currently a passenger. How do you truly separate yourself from the other passengers and take off on your own direction? I’d like to suggest a process. Here are some considerations to keep in mind as you break away from your clones and redefine your identity in real estate.

Determine your gift (and un-lame it if necessary)

First, realize that we all have our own gift. Your gift might seem lame. You might realize that the only gift you have is that you can make a ridiculous strawberry cake. Uh oh. It’s up to you to un-lame the gift.

For many, our first response to this realization that our gift is ‘not cool enough’ is to very quickly end our work in this process. I’m going to argue that a killer strawberry cake, as irrelevant as it might seem, could become your secret weapon (see below).

But if you’re not happy with that outcome, copy this email and send it out (privately) to your best of friends and family:

“Hey Brad (or Natasha, or Stewart, or Dad, or Mom…),

I feel a little silly doing this, and I promise I’m not just looking for an ego boost, but I’m doing a bit of a marketing exercise right now. Without telling you too much about it, it’s requiring that I reach out to some people who know me well, who can tell me what’s exceptional about me. I have no idea. Does anything come to mind?

Talk to you soon, Mark”

Read whatever responses you get. Often, we perceive ourselves differently than our peers.

Take control of your idea

Now that you’ve got your idea, it’s time to plan; what’s one thing you could do with your gift?

Let’s go back to our strawberry cake example.  Mmmm it’s such a good cake. Everyone loves it.  But it has nothing to do with real estate. Welcome to the pilot seat. You’re now spiraling down to earth. Better think fast or die.

How could your strawberry cake define you and your brand?  By reverse engineering the problem, I’m seeing an influx of happy buyers, celebrating the close of their new home, digging into an ingeniously-presented strawberry cake in their new, empty kitchen. I’m seeing hundreds of pictures of happy customers posting to social media (with hashtags galore) photos of themselves holding a strawberry cake.

Be consistent

Is making a strawberry cake every time you close on a house going to catapult you into the big leagues of real estate?  Probably not. But when you apply that one unique identifier to your business over and over again—compounded months and months and years down the road—that’s when you develop your signature differentiator.

Let it evolve…

I said it—everyone’s on the Facebook Live kick.  The message here is not to ignore the other marketing tactics that your competitors are doing.  Facebook Live is hot for a reason. But rather than going live for the sake of being live, give yours a theme; only film Facebook Live videos in your kitchen as you’re pulling your next cake out of the oven, and talk about how excited you are to leave it on the counter for your client.  The excitement of knowing you’ve got another transaction will become apparent to your audience.

Source: Realvolve

Group Targets $1 Trillion to Eliminate Unemployment in Nigeria

African Centre for Global Entrepreneurial Leadership (ACGEL), is pulling together over $1trillion fund for job creation to fight unemployment in Nigeria over the next 10 years.

The group said only interested applicants ready for its training and mentorship in fashion, agricultures, technology, housing, education and re-investment programmes stands to benefit from the first batch of N60,000 million.

ACGEL is a registered non-governmental organisation, whose operation in Nigeria and Africa, is aimed at training and mentoring prospective entrepreneurs to help reduce unemployment by creating jobs for the people.

A Senior Board Trustee member of ACGEL, Greatness Oladapo, disclosed this yesterday, at the ‘’Nigeria Job Explosion Summit (NJES) organised by the group in Abuja.

Oladapo said, “From the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS), which states that as at 2010, Nigeria’s unemployment rate was 5.9 percent, it rose steadily to 8.19 percent in 2015, by 2017 3rd quarter, the unemployment rate had more than doubled, peaking at 18.80 percent. Moreover, as at 2018 3rd quarter, unemployment rate in Nigeria has increased to 23.13 percent, this is unacceptable.”

He explained that it is so sad that in real terms, 20.9 million Nigerians are currently unemployed, while 18.2 million are underemployed bringing the total up to 39.1 million .

He said that more worrisome is the fact that the present unemployment rate amongst the massive growing population is fuelling kidnappings, banditry, insurgency, and armed robbery..

He assured interested Nigerian entrepreneurs to send their applications to www.legs.africa, as successful candidates would be contacted immediately, saying: “My advice for the unemployed is that there are jobs, there are jobs, and there are jobs in this country; they should look inwards and forget deficiencies of government.”

He appealed to government to make the registration of limited liability companies easier and flexible as well as eliminate double taxes for small scale businesses in Nigeria.

Commenting, the Director-General, ACGEL, Adeola Onadeko, called on stakeholders to support the organisation to check the rising unemployment rate in the country.

Source: Guardianng

 

Halfway Into 2019, How Is The Housing Market Holding Up?

Hard to believe we’re already halfway through 2019.

Headed into the year, all eyes were on the housing market as it showed signs of softening for the first time in recent memory. A sharp rise in inventory, talk of more rate hikes and shrinking home price gains in the fourth quarter of 2018 created a cloud of uncertainty.

Six months in, it’s safe to say that the sky isn’t falling. But you might think of the real estate market right now as behaving like a C student that isn’t living up to its full potential.

“The housing market is doing fine,” said Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors. “But it certainly can do better given what’s happening with job creation and the historically low mortgage rate that is currently in place.”

To make sense of this transitional period, it’s time for a midyear market pulse check. Here’s how leading industry economists are piecing together the first stretch of 2019 and what they say is in store for the future of housing.

Affordability challenges yank back price growth 

“For the first time in a long time, we’re starting to see prices correct,” said Skylar Olsen, Director of Economic Research at Zillow. “And the big thrust that’s changing that narrative is the affordability challenge.”

She explains that when home values outpace incomes so aggressively, the two “have to snap back together eventually,” which is in effect what’s happened.

In April, the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index dropped for the 13th month in a row. To be clear, home values are still going up nationally; they’re just rising at a more moderate rate. Annual gains for April clocked in at 3.5%, down from 3.7% in March.

But in some markets the shift has been far more dramatic.

Take Seattle. For two years price growth accelerated faster there than anywhere else in the country. Then between April 2018 and April 2019, the year-over-year price change shrunk from 13.8% growth to a 0.0% flatline. Over the same time frame, San Francisco fell from 10.9% to 1.8% annual gains.

Notice a trend? The markets with the fastest growth fell the hardest. Some exceptions bucking the norm have been Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tampa, their resilience due to how hard they were hit by the 2008 housing crisis.

“I would say the price appreciation of 3% is a healthy development,” added Yun.

Mortgage rates drop, but buyers aren’t jumping the gun

After four benchmark rate hikes in 2018, the Federal Reserve signaled it planned on two more increases this year. That gave analysts every reason to believe mortgages were well on their way 5.5%.

But in March the Fed moved away from that intent and showed signs of even lowering the interest rate (whether that will happen is still TBD). As expectations changed, mortgage rates dropped from 5.09% to 4.09% between November 2018 and June 2019.

However, low interest rates aren’t like an immediate caffeine jolt for the housing market. “It doesn’t impact the down payment,” said Olsen. “And that’s the real struggle, right? Just because mortgage rates dropped doesn’t mean I can suddenly reenter the housing market.”

Demand is also tied to homebuyer sentiment, which isn’t necessarily strong right now. In June, consumer confidence dropped 9.8 points to the lowest level since September 2017 as a result of tensions surrounding the trade wars, according to the Conference Board.

“Consumers are picking up on that lack of certainty about the economic outlook,” said Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com. “And that’s not necessarily going to inspire them to make large purchases like a house.”

Inventory challenges persist on the low-end price points 

Overall inventory has started to creep up a bit this year, though it’s deceiving to try and judge the state of affairs without seeing how the market is truly split in half.

“There is plentiful inventory on the upper end market, so the housing shortage is really on the mid-priced and low ends,” said Yun. “Because the property tax deduction has been limited, there is less desire or greater financial burden from owning than before, so the upper-end market appears to be generally softer.”

In addition experts say builders have faced a number of obstacles to ramping up new construction, including high land prices, labor barriers, material costs, and the onerous process to obtain permits.

All this puts pressure on profit margins so when builders do construct a new house, it tends to be more on the luxury end.

Finally, as people move less often and more boomers decide to age in place rather than downsize, “that’s just kind of holding up a lot of the inventory that otherwise would be lubricating the whole system,” Olsen added.

So together these dynamics have created a tale of two markets.

“If you’re selling an entry level home, you’re probably still looking at a pretty competitive market in most places,” said Hale. “But if you’re selling a more expensive home you probably have to adjust your expectations.”

Cost of living and taxes sway local market conditions 

Nationally, housing conditions could be described as a seller’s market that’s gradually moving more in favor of buyers.

Drill down to the regional or local level though, and it varies. For one, some metro areas outside of major cities have stayed warmer as they catch the spillover of priced-out buyers (see: Tacoma). Strong job creation and reasonable cost of living has kept Midwest markets like Louisville and Indianapolis thriving, along with markets that resemble the Midwest in affordability. Rochester, New York is a prime example.

But there’s always exceptions. Go to Chicagoland, and you’ll hear agents tell a very different story.

“It’s definitely a buyer’s market here,” said Kim Alden, a Realtor with Baird & Warner in the Chicago suburb of Barrington, Illinois. “Inventory is a lot higher. Buyers are negotiating harder than ever because there’s a lot of people who want to sell their house and they’re using that to get the lowest price that they can.”

Alden says that 65%-75% of her listings come from people who want to leave the state of Illinois altogether to escape new and existing state tax laws.

With supply high, she’s seeing sellers experience disappointment that they can’t get as much money for their house as they expected, with one exception: updated, smaller homes are “flying off the shelves.”

“I listed a little three-bedroom, bath and a half for $178,000, and in the first weekend we had 33 showings,” Alden recalled.

Apparently anywhere, an affordable turn-key home remains a hot commodity.

But high-end sellers will need to bust out the paint and spruce up their curb appeal to attract buyers.

What about the rest of the year? 

Real estate experts remain optimistic about housing’s prospects for the latter half of 2019. Olsen expresses that even if GDP growth weakens and wages slow, it’s likely that the market is primed for some kind of a rebound.

The biggest reason for this is that as huge waves of millennials continue to reach peak home-buying age, that will put pressure on demand not only this year but in the years to come. And it’s hard to argue with long-term demographics. If a recession does hit at some point as part of the economic cycle, housing would therefore be impacted though perhaps not devastated.

Ultimately after a long post-recession hot streak, housing was due to break fever. The hope is that the market will heat up a little slower next time and create some normalcy. For now, consider it a short-term correction, and hope that more homes will come on the market that people can actually afford.

“The perfect scenario going forward,” Yun said, “even off into the next couple of years, is if there can be a robust increase in new home construction, the housing market will be more of a bright spot for the broader economy.”

The 10 Best Places to Retire in Canada

Retiring in Canada

Canadian seniors are generally more satisfied with their lives than those in younger age groups. Older Canadians are especially appreciative of their safety, the quality of their local environment and their personal relationships, but are generally less satisfied with their health, according to a Statistics Canada report. However, life satisfaction among Canadians also varies by metro area and ranges from 7.8 out of 10 in Vancouver, Toronto and Windsor, to 8.2 in St. John’s, Trois-Rivières and Saguenay, according to a Statistics Canada analysis of Canadian Community Health Survey and General Social Survey data about average life satisfaction from 2009 to 2013. Here’s where Canadians are the most likely to be satisfied with their current lifestyle.

Chicoutimi City and the Saguenay River
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Saguenay, Quebec

Saguenay is best known for its dramatic fjord leading into the St. Lawrence River, which can be enjoyed at Saguenay Fjord National Park. Residents of Saguenay rate their life satisfaction as an average of 8.2 out of 10, Statistics Canada found. Some 77.8% of Saguenay residents report their life satisfaction as 8 or higher, more than any other metro area in Canada. Only 8.6% of the survey respondents in Saguenay say their life satisfaction is 6 or lower.

Trois-Rivières is a city in the Mauricie administrative region of Quebec, Canada, located at the confluence of the Saint-Maurice and Saint Lawrence Rivers. Trois-Rivieres has a population of 119,693 making it the 9th biggest city in Quebec
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Trois-Rivières, Quebec

Located at the junction of the Saint Maurice and Saint Lawrence rivers, the city’s name means “three rivers” in English, due to the three streams of water where the rivers meet. It was founded in 1634 and settled by French colonists. Foreign language skills will be helpful in this French-speaking city. While many of the French structures were destroyed in a fire, you can still stroll among a few of the original buildings, including the Musée des Ursulines and the Manoir Boucher de Niverville. The average life satisfaction in Trois-Rivières is 8.2 out of 10, according to Statistics Canada. Just over three quarters (76%) of residents rate their quality of life as an 8 or higher, but 9.8% of people say it is 6 or lower.

St John's Harbour in Newfoundland Canada.   Panoramic view, Warm summer day in August.
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St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador

North America’s easternmost city is also one of the continent’s oldest European settlements. The city has colorful houses that line the sides of steep hills, and you can hike up Signal Hill to Cabot Tower for dramatic views of Atlantic Ocean waves crashing against the cliffs. People who live in St. John’s rate their life satisfaction as an average of 8.2 out of 10, with 74.3% of residents giving a score of 8 or higher. There are 12% of residents who rate their life satisfaction as 6 or less.

Float plane taking off Ramsey Lake Sudbury Ontario
 Greater Sudbury, Ontario

Sudbury has 330 lakes within the city limits, the most of any city in Canada. A popular science museum, Science North, includes two snowflake-shaped buildings connected by a tunnel that contains evidence of an ancient meteorite impact and passes through a geological fault. The science center sits atop glacially carved bedrock and overlooks Ramsey Lake. Greater Sudbury residents have an average life satisfaction score of 8.2 out of 10, and 72.7% of residents list a score of at least 8. Only 11.3% of residents rate their life satisfaction as 6 or lower.

Old Quebec City view Canada

Quebec City

This atmospheric city on the Saint Lawrence River is among the oldest in North America. Quebec has quaint cobblestone lanes reminiscent of a city in Europe, as well as the Canadian pleasures of poutine and maple syrup. The locals speak French, although many are bilingual. The average life satisfaction score in Québec is 8.1 out of 10, Statistics Canada found. Three quarters of residents report life satisfaction of 8 or higher, compared to just 9.3% giving a rating of 6 or lower.

Photo of Saint John, New Brunswick, from a park near the Reversing Falls Bridge. An empty wooden bench is in Foreground.
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Saint John, New Brunswick

Located on the Bay of Fundy, Saint John is a major port city. There’s a scenic drive along the Bay of Fundy between Saint John and the U.S. state of Maine, and it’s about a 3-hour drive to Bangor. Retirees with an interest in geology can work or volunteer at the Stonehammer UNESCO Global Geopark. Some 72.9% of Saint John residents rate their life satisfaction as an 8 or higher, versus 13.2% who list their satisfaction as 6 or less. The average life satisfaction rating is 8.1 out of 10.

Photo Taken In Canada, Sherbrooke
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Sherbrooke, Quebec

Sherbrooke has trails for downhill skiing, cross country skiing and snow tubing right in the center of town at Mont-Bellevue Park. Locals get to enjoy the fresh maple syrup the region produces. The city is also known for its fresco murals that decorate the downtown buildings. The average life satisfaction score is 8.1 out of 10. Three quarters of residents rate their life satisfaction as 8 or higher, compared to 11.8% who say it’s 6 or lower.

 Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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Thunder Bay, Ontario

Hockey fans can cheer on the Lakehead Thunderwolves and the Thunder Bay North Stars, or play a game at one of the city’s many outdoor rinks. Located on the southeastern shore of Lake Superior, Thunder Bay is also an ideal retirement spot for those interested in boating, fishing and swimming during the summer months. The scenic sites surrounding the city include Mount McKay, the Sleeping Giant and Kakabeka Falls. Most Thunder Bay residents (72.5%) rate their life satisfaction as 8 or higher, with 14.1% giving a score of 6 or lower. The average life satisfaction score is 8.1 out of 10.

Moncton Downtown
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Moncton, New Brunswick

Moncton is known for its scenic beauty and unique natural features. The city is within an hour’s drive of two national parks, Fundy National Park and Kouchibouguac National Park, the Hopewell Rocks and the Joggins Fossil Cliffs. The average life satisfaction rating among residents is 8 out of 10. Some 69.9% of people in the metro area rate their life satisfaction as 8 or higher, while 14.1% say it is 6 or lower.

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

The South Saskatchewan River cuts Saskatoon in half, but several bridges unite the city. This college town is home to the University of Saskatchewan. The city is named after an edible berry, often enjoyed locally in pies and jams. The new Remai Modern museum provides a unique space where retirees can enjoy and create art, including an extensive collection of linocuts by Pablo Picasso. The majority of residents (72.1%) rate their life satisfaction as 8 or higher, but 12.7% report a satisfaction score of 6 or lower.

Sunrise in Quebec city, Canada. Chateau Frontenac.
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The 10 Best Places to Retire in Canada

  • Saguenay, Quebec
  • Trois-Rivières, Quebec
  • St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Greater Sudbury, Ontario
  • Quebec City
  • Saint John, New Brunswick
  • Sherbrooke, Quebec
  • Thunder Bay, Ontario
  • Moncton, New Brunswick
  • Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Sluggish Economic Growth Characterized by Slow Recovery

In a note released by his firm last Friday, the Chief Executive Officer, Financial Derivatives Company (FDC) Limited, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, stated that the dip in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s June manufacturing and non-manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) suggests the country could be set to report that economic growth again slowed in the second quarter of this year.

The latest PMI report released by the apex bank last Tuesday indicates that the manufacturing PMI eased to 57.4 index points in June from 57.8 index points in May. The report also showed that the Non-Manufacturing PMI declined in the month of June to 58.6 from 58.9 in May.

NBS Q1 GDP 2019 report

Data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in May showed that the nation’s economy expanded more slowly in the first quarter of 2019 than it did in the fourth quarter of last year. The NBS, in its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Report for first quarter of 2019, said the GDP grew by 2.01 per cent in the first quarter, compared to 2.38 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2018.

 

The Bureau stated: “It is worth noting that general elections were held across the country during the first quarter of 2019 and this may have reflected in the strongest first-quarter performance observed since 2015.”

IMF revises growth forecast

Indeed, since the country exited recession in the second quarter of 2017, it has struggled with sluggish growth. For instance, the economy grew by only 1.9 per cent in 2018. Also, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had last January – a few  weeks to the elections- revised down its GDP projection for Nigeria this year to 2.0 per cent from its earlier forecast of 2.3 per cent. It also projected a 2.2 per cent economic growth for Nigeria next year, lowering the initial estimate from 2.5 per cent for 2020. Although the IMF subsequently revised Nigeria’s growth for this year upwards to 2.1 per cent, in April this year, its counterpart Bretton Woods’ institution, the World Bank, early last month revised down its own GDP forecast for the country to 2.1 per cent in 2019 from its earlier projection of 2.2 per cent.

 

Attention turns to growth

Thus, with the elections concluded and following Muhammadu Buhari’s second inauguration as Nigeria’s president on May 29, stakeholder groups and financial experts wasted no time in letting him know that his primary task was to immediately take steps to accelerate economic growth. For instance, at a roundtable session dubbed, “Going for Growth,” held in Lagos about a fortnight ago, President of the Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, called for an urgent solution to the problem of poor power supply in the country, stressing that Nigeria cannot achieve sustainable economic growth without adequate power supply.

 

He said: “How do you have economic growth without power? So, no power, no growth; without power, there can’t be growth. Egypt increased its electricity by 10 gigawatts, which is equivalent to 10,000 megawatts in 18 months.”

 

Dangote said that all stakeholders must come together and support government in finding a solution to power challenges in the country. Apart from power, Mr. Dangote suggested that government focuses more on three areas, which include finance, manufacturing and agriculture. According to him, the Asian Tigers   concentrated on developing these three sectors to take them to their current level of socio-economic development. He also urged the CBN and commercial banks in the country to work towards reducing lending rates as well as developing consumer credit products in order to encourage low income earners to access credit facilities.

 

Emefiele’s speech

However, speaking at the event, CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, stated that while the apex bank was desirous of achieving a low interest rate regime to stimulate economic growth, this, was, however, not feasible now given the high inflationary environment in the country.

 

He said: “In fact, for us at CBN, achieving a low interest rate regime will give us a great sense of accomplishment. Indeed, given our determination to stimulate economic growth, it is obvious that we would want to pursue a policy of moderating interest rates. Yet, in an environment where inflation recently was as high as 18.72 per cent, it would be counter-productive to reduce interest rates because any attempt to ease interest rates under a high inflationary environment will no doubt retard growth.”

He also pointed out that apart from the high inflationary environment Nigeria’s high interest regime, “reflects not only the cost of capital, but also the cost of doing business in the country.” According to him, a typical bank branch in the country provides its own security that sometimes includes permanent police presence, its own electricity supply with several generators, diesel tanks and inverters as well as its own broad band Internet services. The CBN boss explained: “For banks whose main source of income is from interest earnings, these deficiencies become costs, which it (banks) must necessarily pass on to borrowers.”

CBN gov’s 2nd term agenda

In fact, in the wake of his reappointment for another term of five years, Emefiele, last Monday, held a press conference where he disclosed that one of the key objectives the CBN would pursue during his second term in office would be work with the fiscal authorities to achieve double digit growth for the country in the next five years.

 

MPR cut

In fact, in order to boost economic growth, the CBN’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) had at its meeting in March, cut the benchmark interest rate- the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) by 50 basis points from 14.00 to 13.50 per cent. CBN had left the rate unchanged at 14 per cent since July 2016. However, since that reduction in MPR, the inflation rate has risen from 11. 25 per cent in March, to 11.37 per    cent and 11.4 per cent, in April and May respectively, thereby compelling the MPC to leave rates unchanged at its last meeting.

 

Planned recapitalisation of banks

Another important announcement that Emefiele made at the press conference was that the CBN will pursue a programme of recapitalising the banking industry to ensure that the country’s lenders rank among the top 500 banks in the world. According to him, the recapitalisation of Nigerian banks was long overdue because the last time such an exercise was carried out was in 2004 when the capital base of lenders was raised from N2 billion to N25 billion. Emefiele said: “In the next five years, we intend to pursue a program of recapitalising the banking industry so as to position Nigerian banks among the top 500 in the world. Banks will therefore be required to maintain higher level of capital, as well as liquid assets in order to reduce the impact of an economic crisis on the financial system.”

 

He also noted that the last recapitalisation exercise: “resulted in positioning Nigerian banks not only in Africa but also being among the top banks in the world in terms of capitalisation and also helped to increase and strengthen the banks’ capacity to take on large ticket transactions and those are some of the things we badly need today.” Specifically, he said: “If you relate it, N25 billion in 2004 exchange rate, which was about N100/$, N25 billion is almost about $200 million today, if you relate N25 billion at 360, you can see that it is substantially lower than $75 million so what we are trying to say is that the capitalisation has weakened quite substantially, and there is a need for us to say that it is time to recapitalize Nigerian banks again.”

 

MFBs minimum capital requirements

Interestingly, CBN had, in the first quarter of this year, reviewed the minimum capital requirements for micro-finance banks (MFBs) in the country. The regulator, last October, raised the minimum capital base for the three categories of MFBs with December 31st 2020 as the deadline for compliance. The minimum capital base for national MFBs was raised to N5 billion from N2 billion, state MFBs was increased to N1 billion from N200 million while that of Unit MFBs was increased to N100 million from N20 million.

 

In a circular it issued in March, the banking watchdog announced a graduated extension of the deadline to April 2021, even as it categorised Unit MFBs into two namely Tier 1 Unit MFBs and Tier 2 Unit MFBs. According to the circular: “Unit microfinance banks shall comprise two tiers; Tier 1 Unit MfBs, which shall operate in the urban and high density banked areas of the society; and Tier 2 Unit MfBs, which shall operate only in the rural, unbanked or underbanked areas.”

 

Furthermore, while the minimum capital base for Tier 1 Unit MFBs was retained at N200 million, that of Tier 2 MFBs was adjusted downward to N50 million. CBN also stated: “To aid the process of recapitalisation, all MFBs shall be required to comply with the following: Tier 1 MFBs shall meet a N100 million capital threshold by April 2020 and N200 million by April    2021. Tier 2 Unit MFBs shall meet a N35 million capital threshold by April 2020 and N50 million by April 2021. A State MFB shall increase its capitalisation to N500 million by 2020 and N1 billion by April 2021 and National MFB shall hold capital of N3.5 billion by April 2020 and N5 billion by April 2021.”

 

Moody’s stable outlook for banking

However, while the DMBs may indeed need to strengthen their capital base, they still received a largely positive report from one of the world’s leading credit rating agencies, Moody’s Investors Service. In a recent report, the agency announced that it was keeping its outlook on the Nigerian banks stable to reflect the industry’s resilient capital buffers and stable deposit bases, with high risks likely to subside as the economy is expected to strengthen. “Nigerian banks’ asset risk and profitability will remain key rating challenges, but we expect these challenges to gradually decline in 2020 as the economy picks up,” said Peter Mushangwe, Analyst at Moody’s.

 

“Banks’ funding and liquidity profiles will remain stable thanks to solid deposit bases.” In the report, the rating agency predicted that non-performing loans (NPLs) will decline to between seven and eight per cent over the outlook period from 11.7 per cent at year-end 2018 – but still at a high level; and that system-wide tangible common equity will be stable at 16 per cent of risk-weighted assets at year-end 2018, thereby sufficient to bear losses.

The report also pointed out that “banks revenue will be restrained by subdued loan growth while cost pressures, due to IT investments and AMCON levy2 and higher staff costs will slow pre-provision profitability.”

Besides, it stated: “Moody’s expects Nigeria’s real GDP to expand 2.3 per cent in 2019 and 2.8 per cent in 2020, up from 1.9 per cent last year, but well below the level required to improve living standards. Lending growth will recover in the second half of the year following a contraction in 2018, but it will remain subdued and will not appreciably boost banking revenue.”

 

Last line

The consensus in financial circles was that while the outlook on the banking system may be stable, especially given that Access and Diamond banks successfully concluded their business combination in the first half of this year, the prospects of the economy would depend on if President Buhari appoints brilliant individuals into his cabinet who will ensure that the fiscal authorities and CBN work together to accelerate growth.

Source: newtelegraphng

AfDB: Regional Integration, Key to Africa’s Prosperity

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has hosted a sensitization session dubbed, “Banking on Nutrition” for staff from the West and Central Africa offices at its headquarters in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.

 

The event involved representatives from partner organizations specialized in the nutrition field such as Nutrition International, which provided technical support and developed a capacity building toolkit on nutrition for Bank staff.

 

The “Banking on Nutrition” programme was also supported by Big Win Philanthropy and the Aliko Dangote Foundation. AfDB’s Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Jennifer Blanke, said the Bank was making every effort to ensure that it did more across the board in everything that touches on nutrition.

 

“A good example is the Technologies for Africa Agricultural Transformation [initiative], through which we try to get the latest technologies out to farmers to increase productivity, while taking into account not just staple crops but also nutritious crops like orange fleshed sweet potatoes and high-iron beans,“ Blanke told attendees. Bank staff and partner organizations presented updates on their work in respective regions.

 

Bank project task managers and staff were urged to hone their skills and knowledge on the issue and to develop “nutrition smart” projects.

“This capacity building event brings together partners specialized in the field of nutrition to discuss the need to invest more in nutrition to build Africa’s grey matter infrastructure and emphasize on the need for more commitment to supporting nutrition initiatives,” said Oley Dibba-Wadda, Director of the Bank’s Human Capital, Youth and Skills Development Department.

Participants, partners and Bank staff received insight into the Bank’s nutrition agenda and agreed on recommendations to engage more Bank staff about nutrition activities and policies, as well as the inclusion of nutrition elements in project development.

 

The multilateral lender explained in a statement that the “Banking on Nutrition” programme is aimed at helping to generate long-term economic growth across Africa by unlocking the nutrition potential of the AfDB’s investment portfolio.

It involves designing the Bank’s investments in areas such as agriculture, water, sanitation, and hygiene, social protection, health and education to become “nutrition smart” and deliver a greater social and economic return alongside achieving nutrition impact.

Source: newtelegraphng

Lagos and Abuja Remain top Destinations for Foreign Investment in Nigeria

The latest capital importation data released by the National Bureau Statistics (NBS) revealed that Lagos and Abuja are Nigeria’s biggest destinations of foreign capital inflows. The two received $8.35 billion out of the entire $8.48 billion in the first quarter of 2019, representing about 98% of Nigeria’s total capital inflow.

According to the NBS data, Lagos is officially Nigeria’s biggest destination of capital inflow with $4.77 billion or 56% as at the end of March 2019. Also, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, received a total of $3.55 billion or 42% of capital importation.

Breakdown of States’ capital inflow: Analysis of the NBS data shows that only 20 states in Nigeria were listed as destinations for capital inflows. Asides Lagos and Abuja which received the largest chunks, other states included:

  • Rivers ($41 million),
  • Adamawa ($25 million),
  • Benue ($25 million),
  • Cross River ($25 million),
  • Imo ($3 million),
  • Ogun States ($2.21 billion),
  • Kaduna ($2.16 billion),
  • Kano ($1 million).
  • Katsina ($576 million),
  • Borno ($500 million),
  • Oyo ($249.9 million),
  • Kwara ($200 million),
  • Bauchi ($99 thousand),
  • Niger ($67 thousand),
  • Akwa-Ibom ($55 thousand),
  • Anambra ($50 thousand) and
  • Delta ($40 thousand).

Note that the traditional foreign investment destination in Nigeria has always been Lagos, usually followed by Abuja. Although, this order was reversed in 2017 (fourth quarter) when Abuja attracted $2.68 billion while Lagos only trailed behind with $2.55 billion. However, Lagos has since overtaken Abuja to become the top destination for capital inflows.

 

The U.K tops Capital investments into Nigeria: Further analysis shows that the largest capital inflow into Nigeria was from the United Kingdom with $4.5 billion, which represents 53% of total capital inflow in Nigeria.

Also, the United States ranks second with an estimated $1.53 billion or 18% of total capital inflows.

Other countries that make up the top ten biggest share of capital inflows into Nigeria include: South Africa ($763 million), United Arab Emirates ($272 million), Switzerland ($271 million), Mauritius ($268 million), Belgium ($240 million), The Netherland ($208 million), Singapore ($92 million), and Zambia ($60 million).

Ranks of countries of origin for Nigeria’s capital importation as at Q1 2019

Best cities to start a business: According to the World Bank report on ease of doing business, Lagos ranked low in terms of ease of doing business in 2018. Specifically, Lagos State ranked number 28th with 54.90 index points, while Abuja ranked 9th with 59.85 points. However, despite being ranked low in the ease of doing business by the World Bank, most investors still prefer to invest in Nigeria’s commercial hub, Lagos.

 

The World Bank aggregated four indicators in arriving at the ease of doing business index. These include – starting a business, dealing with construction permits, Registering Property, and Enforcing Contracts. In terms of “starting a business”, Abuja ranked first with 85.61 index points, while Lagos State ranked second with 83.67 index points in 2018.

Source: nairametrics

Local Authority Housing in Ireland could be Wiped out if Brexit Causes Economic Crash

Local authority housing in Ireland could be completely wiped out if Brexit causes an economic downturn, a committee has heard.

An Oireachtas Committee on Tuesday heard that housing bodies may have to compete for funding alongside other capital projects, including the Children’s Hospital overrun, Brexit, and the National Broadband Plan, in the event of any significant fiscal pressure.

“If Brexit hits as hard as we think it could, we go from a small government surplus to a large deficit, and all social housing and local authority could in fact be wiped out,” said John Hannigan from the Housing Alliance.

 

“We have a pending difficulty that if we don’t resolve this sooner rather than later the housing provision we provide will be wiped out completely.”

Representatives from The Housing Alliance and the Irish Council for Social Housing came before the committee to make the case for reclassification of Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs).

 

In December 2017, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) recommended 14 AHBs should be reclassified from non-profit institutions serving households (NPISH), to the general government sector.

That meant the AHBs, which were off-balance sheet, should be classified as being on the government’s balance sheet.

Housing Alliance groups see the reclassification of AHBs as the most significant issue to hit the sector in many years and warned the government both before and after the decision that it will directly affect the AHBs’ ability to build social housing.

Essentially, if the government does not have the funding for the groups, these AHBs cannot build any social or affordable housing, as they cannot apply from funding elsewhere.

 

The groups told the committee that both the Department of Finance and Department of Housing support the reclassification in theory, however some frustration was voiced about the lack of urgency from both departments, and lack of communication.

The groups say they have not had one direct meeting with the Department of Finance in the 18 months since the reclassification, they have had three with the Department of Housing.

“The debt we accrue becomes part of government debt,” Mr Hannigan added.

“When this arose at first, it wasn’t a cause of huge alarm as we had adequate funding for at least two years to get on with building houses at scale.

“The reality is things have changed significantly in 18 months, of the two-year window we identified, in that time a lot of work has taken place by us to study the argument, to understand the issues and to develop proposals to address this.

“The positive thing is, the Housing Minister (Eoghan Murphy) has supported us and Minister English (Damien English, Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning) said he would like to see us overturn this classification of government debt.

“Where we find ourselves both in terms of housing needs and importantly, where we are in terms of macroeconomics; facing into the summer economic statement, pre-budget prep, one of the possibilities is if Brexit turns out in the worst possible way, we could be in deficit.

“The concern in this moment is that the fiscal space will be significantly reduced as the government meets competing demands.

“We contend that we’re in a state of a certain amount of urgency, it falls to us to flag we’re in a position to provide housing that people need, and by going back to the position we were in previously, where we were accessing money not in government debt, we could provide significant delivery of housing.

“We have good arguments, what we’re asking for is all the arms of the state to come together to address this.”

Source: irishmirror

Nigeria counts losses as delay in ministerial appointments hits investors

There are signs of growing discomfort among investors over the delay in Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointment of cabinet ministers and it is taking a toll on businesses and the economy.

More than a month after Buhari was sworn in for a second four-year term in the month of May, local and foreign investors are in the dark over who heads which ministry, particularly key positions like finance as well as industry, trade and investment.

Being a developing country with a history of policy inconsistencies and a public sector that is larger than life, foreign investors typically interface with high-level government officials – a category ministers fall under – to set an investment in motion. This way, they hope to get some assurance over the safety of their investment dollars.

The uncertainty over the identity of Nigeria’s next batch of ministers has led some foreign direct investors to hold off on potential big-ticket deals while portfolio investors are beginning to redirect cash to other countries that are ready for business, two chief executive officers of leading financial houses told BusinessDay.

According to them, some foreign government agencies and Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) are also staying away or not engaging because there are no ministers.

“There are people who are currently negotiating to invest in the country but they are waiting to see those that would be appointed to engage with them,” one of the CEOs whose investment firm manages over a thousand foreign clients said.

“Whenever we engage with investors, they are curious about knowing who the new minister of finance and who the new minister of trade and investment would be,” another CEO confirmed

A six-month delay in the appointment of ministers during Buhari’s first term formed part of the recipe for an economic recession in 2016 after it contributed to a steep decline in foreign investment.

Total foreign investment into the country nearly halved to $5.1 billion in 2016 from $9.6 billion in 2015, and was down 75 percent from $20.8 billion in 2014, according to NBS data.

Many Nigerians and international observers had expected President Buhari to hit the ground running in his second term.

“There is nothing to suggest that we have learnt the lessons of 2015,” an independent economist who consults for one of Nigeria’s state governments said on condition of anonymity.

“It adds like an extra 50 basis points on the country’s risk premium,” the economist said.

Yields on Nigeria’s benchmark 10-year Federal Government bond have ticked upwards, albeit by a mere 4 basis points to 14.39 percent as at July 2, from 14.35 percent at the end of May.

Traders say yields have reacted more to the movement in oil prices and the stability in the naira than the delay in ministerial appointments.

The performance of Nigeria’s publicly-quoted companies has been woeful. Stocks are down an average of 6.5 percent since the beginning of 2019. Blue chips from Dangote Cement to Guaranty Trust Bank have been hit by negative investor sentiment no thanks to the perceived lack of urgency in the implementation of reforms needed to boost economic growth.

“These delays are becoming the norm in Nigeria and it shows how unserious we are as a nation,” a former public official told BusinessDay.

The delay slows down the pace of critical reforms since action typically comes from the ministerial pool, not civil servants who want things to remain as they are to extract rent.

“That gives the impression that we are not keen on implementing the reforms that will open up the economy,” the former government official added.

At 2 percent, the economy is growing at a rate below that of the population (2.6 percent). It means per-capita GDP is on the decline which the IMF expects will last eight years if Nigeria continues to hold off on critical reforms in power and the oil sector.

Some sources, however, told BusinessDay that President Buhari is set to release a list of nominees to the Senate.

They blamed the delay on the inability of the Senate to constitute its principal officers, especially the election of the Senate Leader whose responsibility it is to announce such requests from the President.

BusinessDay findings show the President had on Monday invited the two senior special assistants in charge National Assembly Matters, Ita Enang (Senate) and Umar Yakubu (House of Representatives) to a closed door meeting.

The meeting, BusinessDay gathered, was summoned ahead of Tuesday’s resumption of the National Assembly for full legislative business.

Although the list is ready, our correspondent at the Presidential Villa was told, the President has kept the names of nominees as a top secret.

For President Buhari, forming a cabinet might not hold much weight for the economy going by a statement he made in an interview with a French TV station France 24 in 2015, where he argued that “ministers are noise makers”.

However, if examples from other countries are anything to copy from, it took South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa only 96 hours from the day he was sworn in to appoint a cabinet.

Immediately the 66-year old president announced the naming of the ministerial cabinet, it sent a signal of his readiness to hit the ground running. The South African rand reacted positively, gaining some 0.5 percent against the dollar, after an initial loss of 1 percent prior to the announcement.

By LOLADE AKINMURELE & MICHAEL ANI, Lagos, & TONY AILEMEN, 

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