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VP Osinbajo woos potential investors in power, agriculture, other sectors

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Nigerian Ambassador to the U.S., Hon. Justice Sylvanus Nsofor (L) and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, during the arrival of the Vice President to the United State on Sunday (23-6-19).

The potential, effort and impact being made by Nigerians in technology can enable the country roll out indigenous technology solutions that can transform the global space, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this Monday while interacting with interested investors and foreign policy experts on Nigeria’s economic prospects and related matters at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City.

In a question and answer session after his opening remarks at the event, Prof Osinbajo was asked about the ongoing international dispute regarding some global technology firms and the issue of 5G.

He explained that even though Nigeria is yet to roll out 5G, “we do not have those complications (comparatively) in taking decisions in that regard. But, we practically welcome every company that wants to do business with us in Nigeria. Huawei is in Nigeria and so are all the other technology companies.

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

Speaking further, the Vice President who was optimistic about the possibility to developing homegrown capacity in the technology space said government would leverage the efforts and resourcefulness of youths to actualize its potentials in the sector.

“Our potential in technology and entertainment has been attracting huge attention. First is the market, at 174 million GSM phones, we are among the top ten telephone users in the world, and we have the highest percentage of people who use internet on their phones in the world,” Prof Osinbajo added.

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

“Second is the ever-growing number of technology startups, young digital entrepreneurs who are creating solutions to value chain and logistics challenges and creating thousands of jobs in the process. Andela, a software company training software developers for many Fortune 500 companies received a $24m dollar investment from Facebook.”

In the other sectors of the economy, the Vice President told the American audience that Nigeria remained the best place to invest given its market and enterprising population.

He said “now, we are opening up our power sector. We are asking power firms to come in and invest in end to end power supply. Power Africa – a USAID project has made a commitment of $110m over five years (2018 – 2023) to provide transaction support to the entire value-chain covering gas supply, distribution, transmission and generation activities with our population, and a market-driven power sector, so the next few years promise exciting prospects.

“This is also the case with other infrastructure. We are embarking on the largest investment in infrastructure in our history, welcoming private investments in concessions and projects rail, roads, airports, and other infrastructure.”

On agriculture, Prof. Osinbajo said “Nigeria has the 9th largest stock of arable land in the world. We have become world leaders in cassava, yams, sorghum, and millet, and we are on the threshold of self-sufficiency in paddy rice production.

“Seeing greater interest in agriculture and the agro-allied value chain, there is no question that aside from the export market, our population presents a massive and lucrative local market.”

Speaking specifically about what government was doing to revive manufacturing in the country, the Vice President said the Federal Government’s Project Made In Nigeria for Export, titled Project MINE was conceived to drive the country’s industrialization agenda.

According to him, “we are investing at the moment in the creation of special economic zones. Our Project MINE is designed to attract sunset industries from more advanced manufacturing economies, in search of affordable well-trained labor in Nigeria.

“At the moment we are focusing on industries for local manufacture of goods for which Nigeria has a comparative advantage. These include cotton, garments, leather, and light industrial manufacturing.”

Speaking further on efforts to improve domestic manufacturing, the Vice President said “the Nigerian Special Economic Zones Investment company is a public-private partnership established as the delivery vehicle for the project.

“Investors for the project include AFDB, Afroexim Bank, and AFC. Already work has begun in three locations. The Enyimba Economic City in Aba, Abia State, covers over 9500 hectares. Three international anchor tenants have been secured for phase one of the project. The city will be served by an existing IPP for power and will create 625,000 jobs when it is fully built.

“There is also the Lekki Model Industrial Park in partnership with the Lagos State Government in Lagos. It is set on 1000 hectares in the northeast cluster of Lekki Free Zone. It has already attracted world-class anchor tenants for textiles and garments, agro-processing and light industrial manufacturing including the number 1 Chinese and number 9 global textiles and garment group, (RUYI Group).

“The third project in its early stages is the Funtua Cotton Cluster in Katsina State which is in North West Nigeria. Funtua has the largest aggregation of cotton ginneries in Nigeria. The cluster will aggregate cotton from 800,000 farmers in Northern Nigeria and become the largest integrated cotton ginning, spinning and weaving complex in Sub Saharan Africa,” the Vice President noted.

In renewable energy, Prof. Osinbajo said “huge prospects also exist in investments in renewable energy, energy-efficient-processes and clean technology.”

According to him “gas had been flared for almost 60 years by major oil companies but in 2017 government approved the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme, designed to eliminate gas flaring through technically and commercially sustainable gas utilization projects. The Programme offers flared gas for sale through a transparent and competitive bidding process.”

After his interaction at the CFR, the Vice President was received at the United Nations by a team of top officials of the world body led by Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed at the UN headquarters.

Prof. Osinbajo and the UN officials discussed ways Nigeria and the UN can further collaborate on national, regional and global issues.

The Vice President would be meeting his American counterpart tomorrow Wednesday at the White House before heading back to Abuja.

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NSE: Investors Net Worth Drops By N110 Billion

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The Nigerian equities market opened trading for the week on Monday on a negative mood with the market indicators shedding 0.79 percent.

Specifically, the market capitalization shed N110 billion or 0.79 percent to close at N13.812 trillion compared with N13.922 trillion achieved on Friday.

Also, the All-Share Index which opened at 28,566.79 dipped 225.76 points or 0.79 percent to close at 28,341.03, following price loses.

Investors traded 175.168 million shares worth N2.144 billion in 3111 deals against 100.373 million shares valued at N1.459 billion exchanged hands the previous day in 2,707 deals.

A breakdown of the price movement chart indicates that Total recorded the highest loss to lead the losers’ chart with N10 to close at N130 per share.

Dangote Cement trailed with a loss of N3 to close at N170, while Guaranty Trust Bank dipped by 90k to close at N29 per share.

MTN Nigeria Communications decreased by 65k to close at N129, while Eterna was down by 25k to close at N3.40 per share.

Conversely, Nestle led the gainers’ table, increasing by N3 to close at N1,228 per share.

Nigerian Breweries followed with a gain of 50k to close at N58.50, while Conoil appreciated by 40k to close at N20.40 per share.

Vitafoam added 16k to close at N3.70, while Dangote Flour gained 10k to close at N17.50 per share.

In spite of the drop in market indices, the volume of shares traded closed higher as investors bought and sold 175.17 million shares valued at N2.14 billion in 3,111 deals.

This was in contrast with a turnover of 100.37 million shares worth N1.46 billion traded in 2,707 deals on Friday.

Wapic Insurance was the toast of investors for the day, exchanging 42.03 million shares valued at N16.81 million.

United Bank for Africa followed with an account of 24.24 million shares worth N141.95 million, while Guaranty Trust Bank sold 16.04 million shares valued at N478.82 million.

Lasaco Insurance traded 15.11 million shares worth N4.68 million, while Transcorp accounted for 14.61 million shares valued at N15.02 million, News Agency of Nigeria reports.

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Coronation Research’s Nigeria weekly update: CBN goes for growth

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We are accustomed to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) limiting Naira liquidity for fear of upsetting the foreign exchange market. Now the CBN is unafraid of liquidity and is pushing growth – for now. Fixed income rates are falling. See page 2.

FX
This year US$18.79bn has flowed into the NAFEX market with Foreign Portfolio Investment (FPI) accounting for 65.40% of inflows (US$12.29bn). The CBN’s supply of US dollars to the NAFEX market has been 3.02% of inflows (US$0.57bn). In effect, FPI is supplying sufficient US dollars to take the pressure off the CBN, hence our confidence that the exchange rate will hold this year. And the CBN has new-found confidence to target growth.

Bonds & T-bills
The yield on a Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) Naira bond with 10 years to maturity fell by 24bps to 13.95%, and at 3 years declined by 25bps to 13.20% last week. The yield on a 364-day T-bill fell by 51bps to 12.50%. The yield on a T-bill with 3 months to maturity declined by 27bps to 10.30%.

Investors are reacting to the CBN’s revised Standing Deposit Facility (SDF) placement by banks which is now capped at N2.0 billion (US$5.7 million) from N7.5 billion previously. The T-bill market is currently characterised by high demand and strong market liquidity which depressed yields this past week. In the absence of frequent Naira fixed income auctions by the CBN, we expect yields to be stable and not derail significantly from current levels. With this amount of liquidity in the market the initiative lies with the CBN to set rates.

Oil
The price of Brent rose by 3.99% last week to US$66.72/bbl. The average price, year-to-date, is US$66.10/bbl, 7.80% lower than the average of US$71.69/bbl in 2018, but 20.75% higher than the US$54.75/bbl average seen in 2017.

The 2019 oil market is themed by supply cuts, for the most part. The latest report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) shows that oil supply exceeded demand by 0.9 million barrels per day for the first half of the year. This comes on top of pre-existing stockpiles and rising shale production. With oil price protection in view, OPEC’s tightening measures are understandable, especially with the US/China trade war still unresolved.

Equities
The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) All-Share Index lost 2.41% last week, resulting in a year-to-date return of negative 9.11%. Last week Cadbury Nigeria (+8.64%), Flour Mills of Nigeria (+8.00%) and Unilever Nigeria (+3.13%) closed positive while Forte Oil (-23.33%), PZ Cussons (-10.14%) and Nestle Nigeria (-8.92%) fell.

Last week saw the listing of Airtel Africa which closed the week at N323.50/share, down 18.98% from its listing price of N363.00/share. Such a reception continues to show weak investor sentiment in the market. While investors maintain a cautious stance on investing in equities, some stocks are trading close to multi-year lows and present a good entry point for investors, in our view.

The CBN pushes the growth pedal
The last few weeks have seen a flurry of activity from the CBN; a circular on mobile money & financial inclusion; hints of banking sector re-capitalisation 2.0; another circular prohibiting banks from a loan to deposit ratio less than 60%; and finally a ‘no thank you’ note to banks which may wish to park excess cash in the CBN vault, for excess cash balances above two billion Naira (US$5.6m).

What is the overall signal?
The CBN’s recent focus for the past two years has been on monetary stability. Following a 7.50 percentage point decline in inflation, a rise in foreign exchange reserves and hard-earned currency stability, one could argue that it has won the battle. And it has been helped by the downward prospects for US dollar interest rates, which take the pressure off emerging market currencies to some extent. Now the CBN can return to its other agenda. It wants economic growth.

Nigeria’s GDP growth rate mimics the growth rates of developed countries even though it isn’t one. One sign of sluggish growth has been slow growth in commercial bank loans, which suggests, among other things that the supply side of the economy is weak. The CBN’s approach to galvanising growth had been skewed towards the supply side, and it has deliberately held down loan rates in several areas, such as agriculture, in order to implement its policy. The problem with this initiative is that commercial bank loans have not grown as a result, leading the CBN to come up with more radical measures than before.

Typically banks keep cash balances when the CBN Open Market Operation (OMO) auctions are imminent, driving up overnight lending rates around auction dates. But there is a clear downward trend this year in the rate at which very short-term unsecured loans are traded between banks around OMO auction dates.

In fact, on 4 July the cost of overnight loans between banks fell to its lowest this year (4.86%) suggesting that for a given level of liquidity mop-up by the CBN, banks are willing to lend to themselves at cheaper rates than before. During H2 2018, this relationship was upward trending (when adjusted for outliers).

The CBN is attempting, through its circulars, to unlock excess liquidity trapped within the banking system in the hope that it will be channeled towards the real economy. Banks now have an extra incentive to target firms, and the affluent with (soft) loans when other forms of risk-free income become pressured.

All of this reads well for consumer spending, which is the dominant component of aggregate demand, but it may mean thinner margins for banks. The argument that banks may still expect to improve or maintain their margins without a corresponding expansion in loan books must be nuanced with the guidance that the CBN may restrict banks’ participation in the OMO and T-bill market for their own account. By and large, the CBN’s actions are likely to drag down interest rates until the point is reached where it finds Naira liquidity is negative for the currency.

Indeed, in our view the CBN may be wary of a steep reduction in market interest rates and what they could mean for the Naira exchange rate, on two counts. One, some of the excess liquidity in the banking system could find its way into the FX market. If stability remains a priority, the CBN will have to part with more of its dollar reserves. Two, moderating market interest rates could erode the appeal of the naira carry trade prompting foreign portfolio investors to unwind their positions.

But these are still early days, and we await the CBN’s upcoming auctions to learn more of its rate policy.

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What Dana Airline did to its passengers at Abuja international airport

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Passengers at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on Friday expressed disappointment in Dana airline, meant to fly them from Abuja to Port-Harcourt.

A cross section of the passengers who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday at the airport described their experience as unfortunate.

One of the passengers, Mr Waribo Kuku, said he was supposed to board Dana flight from Abuja to Port-Harcourt since Wednesday (July 10), but no flight was available.

Kuku called on the management of Dana airline to compensate him for the delay and inconvenience.

He also appealed to relevant authorities, such as the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Consumers Protection Council and SERVICOM, to address such grievances and ensure that customers were adequately compensated to serve as deterrent.

Another passenger, Mr Jerry Wanodi, told NAN that he booked a Dana flight from Abuja to Port-harcourt since Thursday but couldn’t board the flight due to rescheduling and cancellation of the flight.

Wanodi said that he had been at the airport since 2 p.m on July 11, up till the 6.30 p.m and there was no sign of any Dana Air flight on ground.

Another passenger of the same airline who pleaded for anonymity said he was disappointed with Dana and threatened to sue them for damages.

“I have to go back to my family, you know how women think. It’s like I have been giving excuses on why I haven’t come home yet.

“I am so disappointed with Dana Air and I want relevant authorities to ban Dana from flying in Nigeria

“I also want them to pay compensation to me for keeping me at the airport since Thursday,” he said.

Similarly, Mr Berepelebo George told NAN that he has lost an opportunity to be gainfully employed because of the cancelled flight.

“I have an interview appointment with an organisation in Port-Harcourt which I have missed due to flight cancellations.

“I want the relevant authorities to have regulations on airlines to tackle this impunity,” he urged.

Mrs Amaka Ojeka, another sad passenger, described the development as a national embarrassment.

Ojeka narrated how she flew in from Germany, noting that there was no stroller at the international wing and had to wait for 45 minutes before she was able to secure one.

She also expressed regret that she has been waiting to board Dana to Port-Harcourt but found out that there was no aircraft on ground.

“I am disappointed by what is going on at the airport because you can’t find this in a developed society.

“They are not organised and why is Dana not returning my money but they sent a message via email for me to come to the airport and there was no plane on ground.

“I went back and paid a hotel bill of N10,000 as well as airport taxi.

“Government should look into the matter and take appropriate measures to address it,” she said.

The FAAN authorities and Dana Air management were yet to react to the development in spite of media inquiries.

NAN reports that the passengers waiting to board Dana Airline flight to Portharcourt and Lagos have been kept in suspense amid mounting anxiety.

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