AfDB approves Central Africa’s plan

The Board of the African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved the Central Africa Regional Integration Strategy Paper 2019 – 2025.

The Central Africa Regional Integration Strategy Paper (RISP) for 2019 – 2025 builds on the lessons learned from the implementation of previous regional development initiatives.

It also lists the Bank’s plans to accelerate intra-regional trade, inclusive economic growth and structural transformation of the Central African region.

It will guide the Bank’s regional operations in seven member countries of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), namely Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and the Central African Republic – a combined population of some 130 million people.

The cooperation, integration and economic development goals of the 2019 – 2025 Central Africa regional strategy will be achieved from the basis of two pillars.

The pillars include plans to strengthen regional infrastructure (focusing on electricity networks, transport and ICT), while the second supports reforms for intra-regional trade development and cross-border investments and builds the institutional capacity of regional organizations, especially ECCAS and the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC).

Geographically, the Central African zone represents the nexus of Africa, sharing borders with every other region of the continent. Civil harmony and the economic, social and political progress of the region are underpinned by the broader promise of continental cooperation and economic integration.

In 2018, the GDP growth rate in Central Africa doubled to 2.2 % from 1.1% in 2017, but remained below the sub-Saharan average of 3.5%. The region’s growth was driven primarily by global commodity prices, principally oil.

Other countries within the ECCAS region continued to grapple with the vicious circle of instability and fragility, weak human and institutional capacity, and infrastructure deficits in the transport, energy and ICT sectors.

“Central Africa has significant oil resources, deposits of precious metals and minerals, huge transboundary water resources, and the continent’s greatest hydropower potential.

“`Implementation of the Central Africa integration strategy will encourage regional and national authorities to ensure that cross-border programs and initiatives are embedded into public resource planning and administration,” said Ousmane Dore, Director-General of the Bank’s Central Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office.

Implementation of the Central Africa RISP will require investments amounting to US$ 4.421 billion, corresponding to 30 regional operations over the seven-year period.

About 88% of the planned funding would be devoted to strengthening regional infrastructure.

The infrastructure and institutional capacity-building components of the plan will also support the resilience of the countries in the region. Specific operations will also strengthen resilience to food insecurity, enable the socio-economic reintegration of vulnerable groups, and conserve ecosystems in the Congo Basin.

“The African Development Bank’s ongoing support for Central Africa is crucial for the successful economic integration of the countries in the region.

“The new Regional Integration Strategy Paper continues this tradition of supportive interventions in critical economic sectors. Ultimately, it will be a huge boost to intra-regional trade and a much needed structural transformation of the policy and business environment,” said Moono Mupotola, the Bank’s Director of Regional Development and Regional Integration.

The RISP is in conformity with the Bank’s new Regional Integration Strategy Framework (RISF) which was approved in March 2018, and the Ten-Year Strategy of the African Development Bank Group (2013-2022).

It also aligns with the regional priorities from ECCAS and CEMAC and the Bank’s High 5 priorities.

Ecobank raises $450m from Eurobond

Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI) in Lomé, which is the parent company of the Ecobank Group, has successfully raised $450 million in its debut Eurobond which was oversubscribed.

The Global Offering is a 5-year unsecured note (144A/RegS) listed on the main market of the London Stock Exchange.

The bond matures in April 2024 and was issued with a coupon pricing of 9.5% with interest payable semi-annually in arrears.

The proceeds will be used for ETI’s general corporate purposes and to refinance existing Holdco obligations.

Investor interest was global, including United Kingdom, United States, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.

On this debut Eurobond issuance, Mr. Ade Ayeyemi, Group Chief Executive Officer of ETI, stated: “This is another first for Ecobank and I’m very excited at the prospects for the Group as we continue the second phase of our 5-year ‘Roadmap to leadership’ strategy.

“Our efforts toward greater operational and capital efficiency are paying off, and this offer is another example of the measures we are taking to strengthen our institution and deliver value for all of our stakeholders”.

The Group Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Greg Davis, also commenting on this Eurobond and said: “The success of this Eurobond reflects appetite from high quality and real money institutional investors globally and the trust that continues to be conferred on our institution and the markets we have chosen to participate in.”

How much petrol cost in states: Taraba the highest

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said residents of Taraba paid the highest average price for purchase of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) popularly known as petrol in March.

The NBS said this in “Premium Motor Spirit (Petrol) Price Watch for March 2018’’ posted on its website.

The bureau said residents of Taraba paid average of N150.55 per litre for the product.

Premium Motor Spirit (Petrol) Price Watch for March 2018
Premium Motor Spirit (Petrol) Price Watch for March 2018

The report said the residents of Plateau paid N145.55 per litre while the residents of Oyo paid N146.50 per litre for the product.

This showed that the residents bought the product more than the official pump price of N145 per litre.

Meanwhile, Ogun, Imo and Ekiti states were the states with lowest average price as they sold the product below the official pump price in the month under review.

Residents of Ogun bought the Petrol at N143.06 per litre while Imo residents bought at N143.18 and Ekiti sold the product at N143.47.

According to the report, average price paid by consumers for petrol decreased by -11.1 per cent year-on-year and 0.00 per cent month-on-month.

This 0.00 per cent figure showed that the average price of N145.30 recorded in February did not changed in March.

Similarly, average price paid by consumers for Automotive Gas Oil (diesel) increased by 1.58 per cent month-on-month and 11.02 per cent year-on-year to N229.16 in March 2019 from to N225.61 in February, 2019.

The bureau said the states with the highest average price of diesel were Borno (N246.67), Niger (N241.88) and Imo (N240.50).

Also, it said the states with the lowest average price of diesel were Ekiti (N203.95), Plateau (N217.00) and Rivers (N218.00).

Field work for the report was done solely by over 700 NBS Staff in all States of the federation supported by supervisors who were monitored by internal and external observers.

Fuel Prices were collected across all the 774 local governments across all States and the FCT from over 10,000 respondents and locations.

The price reflected actual prices households stated they actually bought those fuels together with the prices reportedly sold by the fuel suppliers.

The average of all these prices was then reported for each state and the average for the country is the average for the state

Foundation gives N2m to 10 young entrepreneurs

Activate Success International Foundation (ASIF), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), has given out startup grants of N200,000 each to 10 entrepreneurs under its Youth Entrepreneurship and Empowerment Programme (YEEP).

TV host and Founder, ASIF, Love Idoko, said during the event on Monday in Abuja, that YEEP was aimed at helping and encouraging young people to maximise their potentials.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was listed as one of the notable leaders that has commended ASIF which is focused on helping people discover their gifts, talents and purpose in life.

Idoko said over 100 business proposals were received out of which 30 was selected and then scaled down to 10 final beneficiaries.

She said that youths could influence growth in a nation’s economy in many ways because a lot of young people were talented.

“They are gifted; they have amazing ideas but they lack the support to maximize their potential; they lack the support to implement what they have; to translate their mental picture into actual pictures.

“So, Activate Success International Foundation put together the programme called YEEP.

“What we do at YEEP is to identify young people with fantastic business ideas; a panel goes through these ideas; select those with the best ideas and then we give them startup funds to help them achieve their dreams.

“Over the years, we have a lot of programmes to empower the youths; YEEP is held once every year; where youths register from all over Nigeria.

“We have people coming from all the states of the federation to attend this event and then we brought in young chief executives that have made remarkable achievements in different field to speak to them; share their success story and then they also stand a chance to win startup grants for their businesses.’’

She said the foundation had a team that monitored the successes of the beneficiaries.

Idoko said that the foundation got reports from previous beneficiaries who had succeeded in different fields.

She said that awareness for the programme was done through blogs, televisions, newspapers among others and applications were received from across the nation.

On his part, Mr Samson Itodo, Executive Director, Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA), advised the beneficiaries to consider it a privilege and maximise the utilisation.

One of the beneficiaries, Miss Lois Obikeleogehene, whose product is named “Kpokpogarri’ said that her company aimed at rebranding the African snack which was very abundant in the Niger Delta region.

“Kpokpo garri; tapioca fibre, is a bi-product of the production of garri; my company is aimed at promoting Kpokpo garri; rebranding it; fortifying it.

“We are coming out with different packages; we are coming to innovate and then provide a market for this product; reaching out to not only Nigerians but Africa and the world at large,” she said.

Another beneficiary, Mr Excel Nomayo, whose product is `Pap Powder’, said he was into the production of improved pap called Pap Powder.

He said it involved going to the grassroots; taking our local foods and processing them into global best standards.

“We improved the packaging and the production technique of pap.

“It is sourced from the pap that is hawked morning and evening in our streets; you can hardly get pap in a nearby shop; you can hardly in the afternoon; you can hardly walk into a supermarket and get pap.

“I decided to improve it through industrial method that can make it last and stand the test of time,” he said.

Don proffers solution to petrol challenges in Nigeria

A Don, Prof. Cecilia Olufunke-Akintayo, has advised the Federal Government to build modern based chemical plants, capable of producing bio-based petrol chemical in place of conventional Premium Motor Spirit, (PMS).

Olufunke- Akintayo, a Professor of Industrial Chemistry, Federal University, Oye Ekiti, Ekiti gaved advice on Sunday while delivering inaugural lecture of the university.

She said that doing so would solve the perennial problems usually faced by Nigerians and government in processing and getting the commodity distributed. According to her, this will serve as alternative to petrochemical products which have also been a threat to biolife and environment.

Her call was coming, just as the institution’s Vice Chancellor, Prof. Kayode Shoremekun, lamented the poor state of petrol chemical and steel industries in the country. Olufunke- Akintayo is also the Head of the university’s academic planning board of the university.

The don said in the lecture, entitled: “The place of plant oil derived products as sustainable replacement for petrochemical products in industries”, meant that Nigeria must look inward to solve her problems. According to her, there is urgent need for paradigm shift from petrochemicals, which constitute biological hazards, to a sustainable alternative, where environmental impact will be reduced.

She explained that application of natural products could provide sustainable alternative to petroleum-based products through adequate and proper designing of bio-based products. The professor also said that a transition toward bio-based products would also guarantee economic, social and environmental sustainability of the country.

She also urged government to shift from what she refered to as monolithic oil- based economy to a diversified one, based on systematic utilisation of raw materials. She further advised government to invest more in resesrch in universities, especially chemical research, which she said was the driving force of industrialisation.

Commenting on Olufunke- Akintayo’s lecture, Shoremekun commented the lecturer for a brilliant lecture. He said the thrust of her research focused on the need for Nigeria moving from over reliance on conventional petrol chemical products, particularly petrol to bio -based chemicals with less hazards.

NNPC over one billion litres of petrol available

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has once again appealed to Nigerians to stop the panic buying of petrol.

The state owned company urged Nigerians to disregard trending social media report of an impending fuel scarcity due to purported refusal by some oil marketers to lift products from depots.

The NNPC in a release on Friday by its Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Ndu Ughamadu, explained that the tale was fabricated by mischief makers with intent to create undue panic in the prevailing sanity in the fuel supply and distribution matrix across the country.

NNPC informed that it has over one billion litres of petrol in stock while Imports of 48 vessels of 50million litres each have been committed for the month of April 2019 alone noting that there was no need for panic buying or hoarding of petroleum products in anticipation of a phantom scarcity.

The NNPC Spokesman said the pump price of petrol remains N145 per litre.

CBN disburses N174.48bn under Anchor Borrowers Programme — Official

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says it has so far cumulatively disbursed N174. 48 billion through 19 financial institutions under its Anchor Borrowers Programme since 2015.

The Director, Corporate Communications Department of the bank, Mr Isaac Okoroafor stated this on Friday in Enugu at the on-going Enugu International Trade Fair.

Okoroafor, who was represented by the Deputy Director of department, Mrs Veronica Always, said that the programme had supported 902, 518 farmers working with 194 anchor companies.

He said the scheme had so far created 2.8 million and 8.4 million direct and indirect jobs respectively.

According to him, the institution had over the years sustained its intervention in other critical sectors like power, aviation, health and others which had triggered robust economic growth and development in the country.

Okoroafor said that the bank had as at December 2018, disbursed about N183.09 billion under the Nigeria Electricity Market Stabilisation Facility (NEMSF), launched in December 2014.
He said the N213 billion facilities were aimed at settling some debts in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI).
Okoroafor said that efforts of the bank had led to the generation of more than 1, 200 MW in both hydro and thermal plants.
He said that N25.4 billion had been disbursed under the Non-Oil Export Stimulation Facility (NESF) and Export Development Facility (EDF) initiative of the bank.

He explained that the scheme initiated in 2018, was to facilitate access to credits in various sectors.

He said the institution had supported several interventionist programmes including the Micro. Small and Medium Enterprise Development Facility, Commerce Agricultural Credit Scheme that had contributed to the economic growth.

“The bank in an effort to deliver credible, reliable and efficient payment system in November 2016, created Payment System Management Department.

“The department is to drive Mobile Money Operations, agent banking, establishment of Nigerian Electronic Fraud Forum and Watch-list for the Nigerian Banking Industry,” Okoroafor said.

Earlier in an address of welcome, the President of Enugu Chamber of Commerce Industries Mines and Agriculture (ECCIMA), Mr Emeka Udeze, commended the bank for participating in the fair.

Udeze said that members of the chamber were satisfied with the various intervention schemes of the bank aimed at encouraging economic development and growth.

“We urge the CBN to design an improved way of working with some institutions in the financial and banking sector that have been designated for similar roles and still achieve the same targets,” Udeze said.

NNPC promises adequate supply of petroleum products

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has assured the public of adequate supply of petroleum products during the Easter celebration.

The Group Managing Director of the corporation, Mr Maikanti Baru gave the assurance in Enugu at the ongoing 30th Enugu International Trade Fair.

Baru said that the NNPC would provide petroleum products to all parts of the country.

He said that no fewer than 55 depots across the country were fully stocked with petroleum products, including Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

“To make the Easter holidays pleasurable, the NNPC has put all the necessary arrangements in place to berth two vessels of 50 million litres of petrol daily.

“I caution depot owners or terminal operators against selling petrol above the official ex-depot price of N133.28k per litre.

“Consumers of the product should be informed that the price of petrol in the country remains N145 per litre,” he said.

Baru warned that any station that sold the product above the regulated price would be reported to the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).

The GMD called for support of Nigerians toward the protection of NNPC assets in their respective communities.

He said it was sad that in spite of efforts to stem pipeline vandalism, the malaise had yet to abate.

He said that 257 pipeline vandalised points were recorded in December 2018.

Baru commended the Enugu Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ECCIMA) for providing the platform which offered market visibility to large corporations and Small and Medium Scale Enterprises.

Earlier, the ECCIMA President, Mr Emeka Udeze, urged NNPC to address issues affecting the downstream sector of the oil industry.

Udeze commended the corporation for the near stability in the supply of petroleum products.

He expressed the hope that the lessons learnt from what he called various crises in the downstream sector in the recent past would provide needed buffer to stabilise the supply chain in the industry. (NAN)

800 companies bid for 176 gas flare sites — Kachikwu

No fewer than 800 companies have bidded for management of 176 gas flare sites in the country, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, has said.
Kachikwu told newsmen in Abuja on Thursday that government had received bids of 226 bidders that paid the stipulated fees out of the 800 companies that expressed interest in managing the sites.

He said that government was working hard to stop gas flaring in the country by the year 2020, 10 years ahead of the United nation’s deadline.

“Over 800 companies have expressed interest to manage about 176 gas flare sites and out of the total companies, about 226 have paid the stipulated fees and their bids had been received,” he said.

He said that it was unfortunate that Nigeria had over the years failed to properly utilize its gas resources for the development of the economy.

According to him, the country is yet to use the tonnes of gas resources it has to achieve industrialisation and agricultural development, especially through fertilizer production.

He bemoaned the fact that a significant volume of gas produced in the country was flared, depriving the country the benefits that could have been accrued from the resources.

“Premised on the foregoing, the policy position of His Excellency, President Muhammad Buhari, is that gas flaring is totally unacceptable.

“In this regard, the Federal Government of Nigeria, initiated a number of actions to reaffirm its commitment to ending the practice of gas flaring in our oil fields.

“Furthermore, in recognition that flared gas could be harnessed to stimulate economic growth, drive investments and provide jobs in oil producing communities and indeed for Nigerians through the utilisation of widely available innovative technologies.

“The Federal Executive Council in June 2016, approved the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme, NGFCP,” he said.

The minister explained that the NGFCP was a key component of the National Gas Policy, which sought to end gas flaring, create an enabling environment for investors, seek value addition for gas and improve governance in the sector.

He further stated that the NGCFP would ensure zero gas flare by 2020.

“We must stop gas flare and other hazards associated with gas flaring in Nigeria. We must also ensure that oil and gas production do not become harmful to our citizens,” he added.

He assured that government would work to grant open access to all pipelines and other essential midstream infrastructure, with respect to pricing of gas for the domestic market, which was largely controlled by the federal government under a transitional pricing framework.
He added that the current framework would be retained for a limited period until a sufficient gas market is established.

“The policy objective is to move to market-led wholesale gas pricing without gas price regulation, except where there are natural monopolies,” Kachikwu noted.

Also, Chairman of the Ministerial Steering Committee of the NGFCP, Mr Rabiu Suleiman, said the committee shall endeavor to recommend the best governance structure prior to the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) carrying on with the programme as a statutory function immediately after the first auction rounds.

He noted that the NGFCP was designed as a strategy to implement the policy objectives of the Federal government for the elimination of gas flares with potentially enormous multiplier and development outcomes for Nigeria.

According to him, the objective of the NGFCP is to achieve the gas flare-out commitment through technically and commercially sustainable gas utilisation projects developed by competent third party investors who will be invited to participate in a competitive and transparent bid process.

Listing the benefits of the project, he said, “Overall, the NGFCP potential GDP impact is estimated at approximately $1 billion per annum. Assuming average project sizes in the range of $10-40 million, the NGFCP has a potential of triggering around 70 to 89 projects.

“And over a 1 – 2 year period, the NGFCP could generate approximately 300,000 direct and indirect jobs.

“Provide six million households with clean energy, particularly in unlocking LPG (cooking gas i.e. produce 600,000 metric tonnes, MT, of LPG per year). Once operational, projects launched under the NCFCP would reduce Nigeria’s emissions by approximately 13 million tons of CO2 per year.”

Buhari govt hints on removal of fuel subsidy

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, has said the Federal Government will look into gradual removal of fuel subsidy as part of strategies to boost revenue.

Ahmed said this on Thursday on the sideline of the IMF/World Bank meetings taking place in Washington DC, United States of America.

Ahmed made the disclosure while reacting to the IMF’s advice to Nigeria and other countries, who still subsidise fossil fuel to stop doing so

“It’s a good advice, but we have to implement it in a way that will be successful as well as sustainable.

“We are not in the position to wake up one night and just remove subsidy. We have to educate the people; we have to show the Nigerian citizens what the replacement for this subsidy will be.

“So, we have a lot of work to do because subsidy removal has to be gradual and the public has to be well informed,” she said.

Ahmed said that since the IMF/World Bank meetings started, she has had high-level meetings on taxation and discussions on global economy.

“We spoke on the need to build more fiscal buffers because of the slow down in global economic growth and partly by the natural incidences that are happening around the world like the cyclone in Southern Africa.

“We are discussing between ourselves on how we can better manage our finances and also how we must curtail the increases in our debt.

“For Nigeria, we are asking the World Bank to review some of the initiatives that involves them looking at implementation systems when they are providing funding for infrastructure.”