World Bank Projects 2.2% GDP Growth for Nigeria in 2019

Nigeria’s real gross domestic product (GDP) growth will expand by 2.2 per cent in 2019, the World Bank said in its annual Global Economic Prospects published yesterday. This slightly upgrades the country’s projected growth rate from 2.1 per cent in June 2018.

According to the World Bank, growth in Sub-Saharan Africa would accelerate to 3.4 per cent in 2019, due to improved investment in large economies together with continued robust growth in non-resource intensive countries.
“Per capita growth is forecast to remain well below the long-term average in many countries, yielding little progress in poverty reduction.
“Growth in Nigeria is expected to rise to 2.2 per cent in 2019, assuming that oil production will recover and a slow improvement in private demand will constrain growth in the non-oil industrial sector.
“Angola is forecast to grow 2.9 per cent in 2019 as the oil sector recovers as new oil fields come on stream and as reforms bolster the business environment.
“South Africa is projected to accelerate modestly to a 1.3 per cent pace, amid constraints on domestic demand and limited government spending,” the bank said.
On the risk to the region’s growth, the World Bank stated that escalated trade tensions between the United States and China could impact negatively on the region.
“Faster than-expected normalisation of advanced-economy monetary policy could result in sharp reductions in capital inflows, higher financing costs and abrupt exchange-rate depreciation.
“Increased reliance on foreign currency borrowing has heightened refinancing and interest rate risk in debtor countries,” the noted.
It said domestic risks, in particular, remained elevated, that political uncertainty and a concurrent weakening of economic reforms could continue to weigh on the economic outlook in many countries.
“In countries like Mozambique, Nigeria, and South Africa holding elections in 2019, domestic political considerations could undermine the commitments needed to rein in fiscal deficits, especially where public debt levels are high and rising.
The bank downgraded global economic growth from 3 per cent in 2018 to 2.9 per cent in 2019 due to trade tensions, rising borrowing costs and persistent policy uncertainties.
Source: Udo Onyeka


Mambilla hydro power: FG to spend N812m for land demarcation

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved N812m for demarcation of the specific area of land to be affected by the Mambilla Hydro Power Project.

Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola disclosed this at the end of the weekly FEC meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja.

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Fashola said the land demarcation would lead to the enumeration, resettlement, compensation and construction of the Project.

The minister, who said nine land surveying companies that will demarcate specific area of land to be affected by the actual construction of the project, have been engaged.

“Yes, Mambilla is a power project but it is also a critical economic intervention project for growth, employment and for competitiveness of the national economy. People see power, we see an economic enabler and this is the first leg,” he said.

Maintenance of Public Buildings: FG Approves New Policy Framework

The Federal Executive Council has approved a new policy framework for the maintenance of public buildings in the country. The approval follows a memo presented by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola to the council at its weekly meeting held at the state House, Abuja.

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He said the new policy, which institutionalized a maintenance culture in the country, saying that some of the benefits of the policy would to provide an inventory of government assets, and job opportunities for hundreds of thousands of Nigerians. “We have trained artisans at different levels but we haven’t created an economy for them to go and express themselves – Tilers, Bricklayers, Plumbers, Landscapers, Fitters etc.

When they leave training schools what do they do? They go and ride tricycles where there is no training school because there is an economy in tricycles – this is the answer. “So, we have started with a pilot (scheme) to demonstrate to Council that this will work. “Some of the things that this will bring include an inventory of all assets that government owns. It gives us an assessment of the conditions and value, then, it gives us a maintenance framework about what needs to be done after assessments and then a maintenance procurement manual.

NBRRI: Former D-G to get court-ordered payment within 60 days

The National Industrial Court, Abuja,has ordered the Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute to pay its former Director-General, Joseph Ali, his outstanding salaries within 60 days.
Though the total outstanding balance of the salaries was not declared, it was said to have covered the months of April to December 2011.

Ali had sought redress in court for various declarations and reliefs among which was declaration that the suspension of his salaries and allowances by the defendant was unlawful and a breach of his fundamental human right.
He also sought a declaration that he was still in the public service of the federation as a substantive staff of the NBRRI until his compulsory retirement on October 27, 2015.

He said he was therefore entitled to all the rights, privileges and benefits as a public servant.
In her judgment, Justice Zaynab Bashir said: “The claimant should be paid all outstanding balance of his salaries for the months of April to December 2011.
“Also his salaries for the period he was in the employment of the defendant up to the time of his compulsory retirement in 2015, although less the period of two years of his contract employment with Energy Commission of Nigeria, be paid in full.”The court further awarded the sum of N200,000 to the claimant against the defendant for damages.

The judge ordered that the judgment should be complied with within 60 days, after which the judgment sum shall attract 10 per cent interest per annum.
Counsel to the claimant, Musa Haruna, in his submission said his client’s tenure as a DG expired in 2010 and the board of the institute informed him to stay as a director of research if he so desired.
The counsel further averred that the claimant requested to proceed on his 145 days deferred and sabbatical leave, a request upon which an approval was granted.
He said the claimant’s salary was not paid in full from April to December, 2011.
Haruna also said the salaries were completely suspended from January 2012 until his time of compulsory retirement in October 2015 when he attained the mandatory age of 65.

The defence counsel, Faruk Khamaghan, in his argument said the claimant retired in 2010 at the expiration of his tenure as a DG.
Khamaghan said the claimant was taken in for a contract employment for two years by ECN as against the sabbatical leave that was granted by the defendant.
Joined as co-respondent in the suit was the minister of science and technology.

$1.5-billion project: Uganda aims to pick winning bidder by end-2019

Uganda expects to pick the winning bidder by the end of 2019 to build and operate a $1.5-billion road project under a public private partnership (PPP) model.The planned 95 km (60-mile) highway will connect the capital Kampala with Jinja, an industrial town in the east of Uganda

Patrick Muleme, head of design at state-run Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA),said the motorway was the first road in Uganda being implemented using a PPP model.

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The contractor will design, build and operate the road for 30 years, earning profits by charging tolls before handing it back to the state.Analysts have said projects relying on PPP financing have often stumbled in the regional in the past over government guarantees and revenue sharing arrangements.

“We expect that by end of the year we will have selected the final preferred bidder,” Muleme said, adding that work would be expected to start in 2020. UNRA short-listed four joint bids last month including one led by German-based Strabag and another led by China’s Communications Construction Company (CCCC).

Muleme said construction would cost about $1-billion, with the contractor raising $600-million and the government contributing $400-million. A further $500-million would be needed to cover land acquisition, debt financing and operating costs, he said

“We’re coming up with a number of similar expressways where we think a similar model might work,” Muleme said, adding that two more planned roads using the PPP model were being studied.

He said projects using the PPP model were planned in Kenya and Tanzania, while he said others had successfully worked in other parts of Africa including South Africa and Senegal.

Sand extraction can have environmental impacts if not managed properly- experts

Experts have said there is need to manage sand extraction to avoid huge environmental impact. It said that about 50 billion tons of sand and gravel are used around the world every year.

The experts at the first round-table focusing on sand, organised by the United Nations Environment, Global Resources Information Database (GRID)- Geneva and the University of Geneva in 2018 said sand extraction from places with fragile ecosystems, if not managed correctly, can have huge environmental impact.

“The experts at the roundtable agreed that extraction on a beach, for instance, not only leads to the destruction of local biodiversity but can also reduce the scope for tourism.

In a report on the website of UN Environment titled, “The Search for Sustainable Sand Extraction is Beginning’, said the huge demand for sand may also lead to illegal sand extraction which is becoming an issue in many places.

“Fifty billion tons of sand and gravel are used around the world every year. This is the equivalent to a 35-metre-high by 35-metre-wide wall around the equator.

“Most sand goes into the production of cement for concrete (which is made of cement, water, sand and gravel). Cement, a key input into concrete, the most widely used construction material in the world, is a major source of greenhouse gases, and accounts for about eight per cent of carbon dioxide emissions, according to a recent Chatham House report,” the report said.

Various stakeholders from the industrial, environmental and academic sector came together in Geneva to discuss the emerging issue of sand extraction and solutions to address potential environmental impact.

“It is extraordinary that so little attention has been given to this problem,” says Bart Geenen, head of the freshwater programme at the World Wildlife Fund – Netherlands.

The experts said innovative solutions are being tested to replace sand in the construction of roads and buildings adding that  recycled plastic, earth, bamboo, wood, straw and other materials can be used as alternative building materials.

While there is no magic bullet, the Geneva meeting agreed that it is important to raise awareness of the fact that sand is not a limitless resource and that there are possible negative effects of sand extraction. Good practices must be shared and the communication gap between policymakers and consumers overcome.

The Geneva meeting concluded that the way forward is to collect more data, and to work on implementing policies and standards to protect delicate ecosystems from illegal and environmentally harmful sand extraction. The search for sustainable solutions should start now, the meeting concluded.

20-30m hectares of land needed in Nigeria to meet forest cover

The Director General of Forest Research Institute of Nigeria, Dr Adeshola Adepoju, said for Nigeria to get the required forest cover as recommended by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), it needs about 20 to 30 million hectares of land for tree planting.

Dr Adepoju who spoke to journalists on the sideline during the National Consultation of Partners of the Nigerian Forest Investment Programme, recently in Abuja, said Nigeria has five per cent forest cover and required 20 per cent more to be comfortable.

Speaking on actions taken to address the issue, Adepoju said previously four million trees were planted and that with the present government, over two million seedlings have also been planted.

“Before this administration came in, four million trees were planted within the nation’s five per cent cover but going by the green bond arrangement by this administration, over two million seedlings were planted in 843.6 hectares of land,” he said.

While urging relevant stakeholders in the forest sector to invest in forest plantation to enable the country to achieve 25 per cent forest cover, he said the National Forestry Trust Fund will be expended in best practices.

According to him, the workshop was important to enable stakeholders to come up with a robust policy on forest investment, which will also enhance the implementation of the National Forest Investment Plan.

Speaking, the Director of Environment and Natural Resources at the Economic Communities of West African States (ECOWAS), Dr Johnson Boanuh, said the rate of forest degradation is accelerating in the face of climate change, adding that, “This is affecting the region in various ways while evidences abound in weak cooperation between the states in shared and trans-boundary forest resources management.”

He said forest degradation and deforestation in West African Region are undoubtedly the root causes of forest ecosystems depletion, which is said to have the highest deforestation rate per hectare in the world.

Chapel Hill Denham Nigeria Infrastructure Debt Fund delivers 22.2% return in 2018

Investors who parked their cash in the Nigeria Infrastructure Debt Fund (NIDF), managed by Lagos-based investment bank, Chapel Hill Denham, just saw off a 2018 to remember for good.

In a year when investors were hurt by negative returns on several asset classes from equities to mutual funds, the NIDF returned 22 percent, which is probably the best performing asset class for the year.

The NIFD’s return is some 700 basis points above the risk-free rate of 15 percent and betters the stock market’s negative 17 percent return.

Since inception in June 2017, the Fund has delivered a total return of 42 percent (assuming distributions were reinvested), as investors continue to enjoy consistent, attractive and predictable real returns real returns (above inflation), along with low volatility and principal preservation.

Despite being considerably riskier, equities haven’t matched that return in the period under review.

Besides delivering attractive returns, the NIDF is also at the core of Nigeria’s economic transformation by adding to the country’s infrastructure stock, channelling institutional capital into productive assets, and supporting sustainable economic growth. This makes the Fund an impact investor’s delight.

In the fourth quarter of 2018, the weighted average interest rate for the Fund’s portfolio of infrastructure loans was 19.3 percent, which is 470 basis points premium to the prevailing average yield on the 10-year Federal Government bond.

The Fund announced a quarterly distribution of N4.20 per Unit for the fourth quarter of 2018, the sixth consecutive quarterly distribution.

With this quarterly distribution, the total cash distributions made by the Fund in the year ending December 2018 aggregated to N16.70 per Unit. This translates to a full year cash yield of 17.8 percent.

Qualification date for the Q4 2018 distribution is on January 2, 2019 and payment date will be on January 4, 2019.

The Chapel Hill Denham Nigeria Infrastructure Debt Fund is the first and only infrastructure debt fund dedicated to and domiciled in Nigeria.

The Fund is an Infrastructure Fund under the rules and regulations of the Securities & Exchange Commission, Nigeria and the National Pension Commission, Nigeria.

The Fund’s Units are listed on the FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange, Nigeria.

The Fund has registered a programme for issuance of up to two billion Units with par value of N200 billion.

Source: Lolade Akinmurele


What is green concrete?

Geopolymer concrete, or green concrete, is part of a movement to create construction materials that have a reduced impact on the environment. It is made from a combination of an inorganic polymer and 25 to 100 percent industrial waste. Here is a list of 4 benefits to using green concrete for your next project.

1. Lasts Longer: Green concrete gains strength faster and has a lower rate of shrinkage than concrete made only from Portland Cement. Structures built using green concrete have a better chance of surviving a fire (it can withstand temperatures of up to 2400 degrees on the Fahrenheit scale). It also has a greater resistance to corrosion which is important with the effect pollution has had on the environment (acid rain greatly reduces the longevity of traditional building materials).

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All of those factors add up to a building that will last much longer than one made with ordinary concrete. Similar concrete mixtures have been found in ancient Roman structures and this material was also used in the Ukraine in the 1950s and 1960s. Over 40 years later those Ukrainian buildings are still standing. If buildings aren’t constantly having to be rebuilt, fewer construction materials are needed and the impact to the environment during the process of making those materials is reduced.

2. Uses Industrial Waste: Instead of a 100 percent Portland cement mixture, green concrete uses anywhere from 25 to 100 percent fly ash. Fly ash is a byproduct of coal combustion and is gathered from the chimneys of industrial plants (such as power plants) that use coal as a power source. There are copious amounts of this industrial waste product. Hundreds of thousands of acres of land are used to dispose of fly ash. A large increase in the use of green concrete in construction will provide a way to use up fly ash and hopefully free many acres of land.

3. Reduces Energy Consumption: If you use less Portland cement and more fly ash when mixing concrete, then you will use less energy. The materials that are used in Portland cement require huge amounts of coal or natural gas to heat it up to the appropriate temperature to turn them into Portland cement. Fly ash already exists as a byproduct of another industrial process so you are not expending much more energy to use it to create green concrete.
Another way that green concrete reduces energy consumption is that a building constructed from it is more resistant to temperature changes. An architect can use this and design a green concrete building to use energy for heating and cooling more efficiently.

4. Reduces CO2 Emissions: In order to make Portland cement–one of the main ingredients in ordinary cement–pulverized limestone, clay, and sand are heated to 1450 degrees C using natural gas or coal as a fuel. This process is responsible for 5 to 8 percent of all carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions worldwide. The manufacturing of green concrete releases has up to 80 percent fewer CO2 emissions. As a part of a global effort to reduce emissions, switching over completely to using green concrete for construction will help considerably.


Foreign construction workers will be needed to meet housing targets-Report

Reports say  Ireland does not currently have enough experienced construction workers to build much-needed housing, adding that non-national workers will be needed to help complete government plans

In a quarterly economic outlook published today, the report says that 2016 figures showed that 80,000-100,000 workers would be needed to meet government construction targets but that this has not been met.

It says that just 26,000 have been added in the last two years,and that there is a shortage of construction workers on the Live Register to make up the shortfall.\

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“A further 60,000 to 80,000 workers will be needed, at a minimum, to meet demand over the coming years. At the same time, there are only 33,000 workers formerly in craft or related sectors (the best proxy for construction ready workers) on the Live Register,” the report states.

This includes those already working but receiving in-work benefits. This number is down from 120,000 in 2009. In the meantime, growth in the number of non-national workers in construction over the past twelve months stood at only 3,800. This number will need to increase significantly over the coming years if we are to deliver on much-needed housing and infrastructure projects.

On the completion of housing, the report states that initial figures estimate that 18,500 new homes were completed last year and that this will likely increase to 22,000 this year and reach 25,000 units in 2020.

The report also outlines how Irish businesses are already feeling the effects of a Brexit which hasn’t happened yet.It says that businesses are already spending money on “costly contingency measures” because of the lack of clarity around Brexit.

Among these contingency measures are the purchase and storage of high stock levels to guard against potential problems with supply. Another cost is the declining availability of credit and capital as companies hold back on investment pending a greater understanding of what exactly will happen with Brexit.

The report has been critical of both the Irish and British governments for not doing enough to prepare for a no-deal Brexit, something it refers to as a “cliff edge” outcome.

“The major political obstacles to ratification cannot be ignored, and business, along with government and the EU, must work to avoid a ‘no deal’ cliff edge outcome,” the report states.

While we note recent contingency plans published by the Irish government and European Commission, we urge them to work collectively to bring forward more meaningful measures to support business. Future iterations must provide much-needed information on how a ‘no deal’ scenario would be managed on the ground.

Overall, while the report has forecast growth for the Irish economy of 4.9% this year, it notes that this is weaker than recent years due to a number of factors.While Brexit is one of them, It also states that Ireland is at “a mature phase of the business cycle with the economy close to capacity”.

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