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Gas cylinders: How lack of local support fuels explosion



Gas cylinders: How lack of local support fuels explosion

Apex gas stakeholders’ group says sub-standard gas cylinders found their ways into Nigeria through reliance on importation. Adeola Yusuf looks at how dearth of government action on standards and lack of support for local gas cylinders manufacturing sub-sector fuel explosion in Nigerians’ homes.


The Nigerian Liquefied Petroleum Gas Association (LPGA), it was, who first hit the nail on the head about sub-standard gas cylinders in Nigeria. The multi-million dollars local gas cylinder manufacturing sub-sector in Nigeria is hitting the rocks, President of the highest body of stakeholders in the cooking gas sub-sector, Nuhu Yakubu, stated in a chat with New Telegraph.

This, he said with passion, is not only a big treat to the geometric growth recorded in the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) also known as cooking gas sector in the past 10 years, it had also fuelled the availability of sub-standard cylinders in circulation across the country.


Grounds for crisis

The difficulty buoyed by Federal Government’s inaction to end over N1 trillion average annual investments on fuel subsidy has, according to Yakubu’s NLPGA, created a shortfall of 49 million cylinders in the system. Confirming the “dangerous trend” to this newspaper on the sideline of a press conference, he registered the displeasure of stakeholders in cooking gas sector with fuel subsidy.

“Many local cylinder manufacturers have closed shops regrettably due to the way government is handling the energy mix,” he said at the press conference to herald the group’s 8th annual conference themed; “LPG diversification: Expanding the LPG frontiers in Africa.”

“ The inability of the government to deregulate the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol has made it to keep wasting scarce resources on fuel subsidy while it keeps expending scarce resources yearly to import LPG cylinders from Turkey, China, India and other Asian countries.

“The last time we heard that over N1 trillion was expended to subsidise fuel. Subsidy is a killer of economy, we – as a nation – are just technically subsidising petrol for the consumption of millions in West Africa.”
Consequently, he said Nigeria need to end fuel subsidy by deregulating petrol.

“Let the growth being experienced in the LPG market be felt elsewhere,” he said. Besides, he noted, “Nigeria’s LPG sector is fastest growing in the World. It grew between 2007 and 2017 by over a 1000th percent growth.

“What is spectacular is the fact that it has been private sector driven. It is a testimonial that with just the creation of enabling environment with deregulation. If the LPG sector is able to grow with deregulation just imagine the level of growth if this is extended to petrol and others.”


Many steps backward

Stating that this growth rate could have been higher, the NLPGA’s boss said: “The reason LPG has not grown at the expected pace is that the sector is being pulled down by market forces from other fuels that are yet to be deregulated.”

Another reason, according to him, is that the LPG Nigeria needs is being flared, it is being set on fire somewhere in Nigeria and the country is not doing enough to tame this tides.

“We are a net exporter of LPG meanwhile, we still have a lot of LPG that is being flared. Just imagine the level of health hazards being faced by our women who still use firewood,” Yakubu said.

“We don’t need subsidy in our sector. Subsidy is a killer of our economy. Even the petrol we subsidise benefits the rich and the middle class. Their number is even so small.”


Going into extinction

Declaring that local “LPG cylinder manufacturers are going into extinction,” the NLPGA boss noted that for this to be addressed, the government needs to incentivize the sector.

This, first vice President of NLPGA, Engineer Baylon Duru said, could be done through Port duty reductions; tax holiday and tax reduction for local cylinder manufacturers; incentivise cylinders distribution in Nigeria; incentivise conversion of vehicles from petrol to gas and to incentivise the cost of entry for millions of Nigeria who still face the health hazards of using the dirty fuel.”


Feedback from Government

Meanwhile, the Senior Adviser, Downstream and Infrastructure to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Brenda Ataga, was quoted as saying the government was working out a package of incentives to encourage investors in the cooking gas subsector.

She said the ministry would set up a unit to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Finance to package tariff incentives for credible investors in the industry.

Ataga, who during a tour of Techno Oil for building the gas cylinder plant said the petroleum resources ministry, was doing everything possible to encourage Nigerians to embrace LPG, also known as cooking gas.

She said the government was keen on ensuring that every Nigerian household embraced cooking gas rather than using firewood and other harmful energy sources.

Also speaking, the Head, Gas Monitoring and Regulatory Division in the Department of Petroleum Resources, Mr Sanya Bajomo, said he was impressed with what he saw at the plant.

“It is a thing of joy that we can now manufacture LPG cylinders in Nigeria, instead of importing. We give kudos to Techno Oil for preparing the ground for every household to adopt cooking gas,” he added.


Cooking gas

Cooking gas cylinders are a great relief from kerosene stoves and electric cookers in environments with limited or unpredictable power supply. Some say you haven’t lived if you haven’t blown into the dark rings of smoking kerosene stove. These cylinders are one of the most common alternative fuel sources in the world, with three millions of Nigeria households relying on this cooking appliance, according to recent study by NLPGA.

In modern town planning, the use of these gas cylinders is only replaced by the expansion of town gas into buildings, as seen in Hong Kong and Brazil. When handled correctly, gas cylinders are portable, in abundant supply, convenient and affordable. When not handled correctly, they can cost your life. But the sub-standard cylinders are greater threats because whether they are handled correctly or not, they are susceptible to leaks and explosion.


Gale of deaths

In August 2015, the Obidigwe family of Azia in Ihiala Local Council of Anambra State, took delivery of the bodies of nine of their children, who were roasted to death in their Lagos abode.

Fifty-one-year-old Charles Obidigwe, a patent medicine dealer and head of the family died instantly, after an unsuccessful attempt to put out a fire, which engulfed his three-bedroom apartment. While Charles, the head of the family died instantly, the other eight members of his family, including his sister-in-law and her son, who were staying with them, died later in a Lagos hospital. The fire was ignited when a gas cylinder exploded and caught fire that engulfed the entire flat when Mrs. Obidigwe was preparing lunch for the family.

By the time the incident took place, no single neighbour of the Obidigwes had a fire extinguisher. So, by the time men of Lagos State Fire Service arrived, the harm had been done.

On Sunday, July 16, 2017, the national vice president of Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), South-South Zone, Eddie Bekom, died as a result of injuries he sustained from a gas explosion.
The fire, which killed Bekom, a staff of the Cross River Broadcasting Service (CRBS) in Ikom, also claimed his wife and one of his sons, while three other children sustained injuries.

Up North, a gas explosion on August 28, 2017, reportedly wrecked the female hostel in the Jos campus of the Plateau State Polytechnic. According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the fire, which started around 8.30 a.m., raged on till 11.44a.m, causing confusion among students and staff. Though no life was lost, the fire, which was as a result of gas explosion, the school’s rector, Dauda Gyemang, said, burnt school property and personal effect of students, who were all away to attend lectures. The use of gas in the hostel is prohibited.

Also, until Uche Okonkwo got married to Ifeoma, the latter never lit a gas cooker all her life. Her arrival in her husband’s modest apartment was, to say the least, a life-changing moment for her. Since they observed their low-keyed honeymoon at home, Okonkwo was still in bed when he heard a loud bang in the kitchen. Pronto, he sprang and ran towards that direction only to meet his wife on the floor of the burning kitchen.

With one hand, he flung her through the door and knocked off supply from the giant gas cylinder stationed outside beside the kitchen window.

Once out of shock, Ifeoma explained that the first match she struck failed to light the cooker hence she went in search of another matchbox, as the failed stick was the last in the pack. By the time she could grab another match pack from the kitchen cabinet, the entire place had been filled with gas, and without any suspicion, she proceeded to light the cooker.


Last line

The Federal Government must wade into the crisis rocking local manufacturing of gas cylinder and raise the monitoring of standard of imported canisters for cooking gas.

All Nigerians, including stakeholders should support the efforts at mitigating the risk posed by these sub-standard cylinders already in circulation.

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Huawei founder details ‘battle mode’ reform plan to beat US crisis




Huawei founder details ‘battle mode’ reform plan to beat US crisis

China’s Huawei will spend more on production equipment this year to ensure supply continuity, cut redundant roles and demote inefficient managers as its grapples with a “live-or-die moment” in the wake of U.S. export curbs, founder Ren Zhengfei said.

His remarks come as the United States said this week it will extend by 90 days a reprieve that permits Huawei Technologies to buy components from U.S. companies to supply existing customers, but it also moved to add more than 40 of Huawei’s units to its economic blacklist.

In a memo sent to employees on Monday loaded with military metaphors, 74-year-old Ren asked staff to work aggressively towards sales targets as the firm goes into “battle mode” to survive the crisis.

“The company is facing a live-or-die moment,” Ren, a former Chinese army officer, said in the memo, which was seen by Reuters. Huawei confirmed the contents of the memo.

“If you cannot do the job, then make way for our tank to roll; And if you want to come on the battlefield, you can tie a rope around the ‘tank’ to pull it along, everyone needs this sort of determination!”

Huawei is a key theme in a broader, year-long U.S.-China trade war, with Washington slapping it with the trade ban in May citing national security risks. Huawei, however, posted a 23% revenue jump in the first half, helped by strong smartphone sales in its home market.

Ren said in the memo, “In the first half, our results looked good, it is likely because our Chinese clients were sympathetic and made payments in time, the big volume made cash flow look good, this doesn’t represent the real situation.”

But he expressed confidence in Huawei’s full-year results and said it needs to “spend the money and solve the production continuity issue” by ramping up strategic investment on things including production equipment.

According to the memo, Huawei, which employs nearly 190,000 people around the world, is reforming its operation globally by granting more power to the frontline, cutting out reporting layers and eliminating inefficient posts.

“In 3-5 years time, Huawei will be flowing with new blood,” Ren said. “After we survive the most critical moment in history, a new army would be born. To do what? Dominate the world,” Ren said.

While Ren said in June the ban was worse than expected and that Huawei’s revenue may stay flat in the next two years, in the memo he called on staff to try their best in meeting the sales target outlined at the start of the year before the ban – which was to grow its revenue to around $125 billion from more than $100 billion in 2018.

He also warned of cash flow risk if receivables are not paid in time. He asked staff to be conservative in ensuring dues were paid in time by clients, because otherwise the lack of liquidity could be fatal to the company.

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Report: Emefiele, fund managers meet in London



Report: Emefiele, fund managers meet in London

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, met fund managers in London last week to lure investors back into the local naira currency, Reuters reported two banking sources as saying yesterday.

Emefiele told investors that currency stability would continue, a fund manager and a banking source said. The naira weakened to 364 last week as oil prices fell.

The naira has come under pressure at the investors and exporters forex window in recent weeks due to a decline in oil prices as well as a drop in yields, which led to a sell off by foreign investors.  The development led the CBN to hold unscheduled Treasury bill auctions at higher rates last week in its bid to lure foreign inflows.

“FX pressures have intensified as global risk-off sentiment incentivises some portfolio reversals, and the UK judgment could add further fuel to the fire,” said Cobus de Hart, senior economist at South Africa’s NKC African Economics.

“Worryingly, the central bank is employing unconventional tools more regularly to try and keep the naira stable and safeguard reserves, and risk exists … which could ultimately come at the cost of slower growth and higher inflation,” De Hart said.

Yesterday,  traders raised their secondary-market bids for one-year treasury bills to 14 per cent from 11 per cent  last week as the naira weakened, and bid-offer spreads doubled in volatile trades.

The naira has been quoted at 364 per dollar for foreign investors at I&E window since last week from 363.50, as liquidity dried up on the forex market.

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Fidelity Bank adopts open banking



Fidelity Bank adopts open banking

Fidelity Bank has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Open Technology Foundation (OTF) for the adoption of a standard Application Programming Interface (API) for its operations as a financial institution.

Open banking is a system that provides a user with a network of financial institutions’ data through the use of application programming interfaces (APIs). The Open Banking Nigeria Standard defines how financial data and services should be created, shared and accessed. By relying on networks instead of centralisation, open banking helps customers to securely share their financial data with other financial institutions.

The bank recently took a bold step to further provide its consumers with improved services and solutions that meet their needs by leveraging the collaborative model of open banking. Through this partnership, Fidelity Bank would deepen its financial services delivery through appropriate and time sensitive channels whilst collaborating with other stakeholders within the ecosystem.

Open banking has been seen as the most transformational financial technology over the next decade which has seen about 47 countries at various stage of implementation. Recently, the Central Bank of Nigeria signaled its intention to lead Africa in digital payments innovation with the request for information about the National Payments System Vision 2030 for which open banking is a strategic priority.

Additionally, Fidelity Bank has by this development joined other leading banking and financial services industry players, which have not only adopted but are also promoting this mode of operation that will drastically consolidate customer satisfaction, grow revenue across diverse streams, promote financial inclusion, as well as assure a smooth but controlled data flow.

“As a digitally innovative and forward-thinking bank, we believe in the importance of investing in digital technologies and its significant contributions to shaping the future of banking globally” said Fidelity Bank CEO, Nnamdi Okonkwo.

“Therefore, this partnership with the Open Technology Foundation for the adoption of a standard, industry-wide API is a step in the right direction and is in alignment with our commitment to digital innovation, for the satisfaction of our customers” he explained further.

The Open Technology Foundation was established to analyse the need of the industry for a common API standard among banks and other financial institutions, develop the common API standards, provide a sandbox and other testing tools for certification, promote the adoption of an open banking standard with stakeholders across Nigeria, and to enable further innovation in the financial services industry.

“At Open Technology Foundation, it is our utmost delight to collaborate with players across the banking and services ecosystems for the introduction, adoption and promotion of open technology practices. We are convinced that this is one great move that would transform the financial space in Nigeria, with ripple effects across other industries in the country and by extension Africa,” said Ope Adeoye, a trustee of Open Technology Foundation.

Focused on select niche corporate banking sectors as well as Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), Fidelity Bank is rapidly implementing a digital based retail banking strategy which has resulted in exponential growth with savings deposits tripling over the last five years and over 40 per cent of customers enrolled on the Bank’s flagship mobile/internet banking products.

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Sterling Bank’s Cafe One hosts 2019 Caine Prize winner



Sterling Bank’s Cafe One hosts 2019 Caine Prize winner

Cafe One, Nigeria’s first digital, hybrid experience centre by Sterling Bank Plc, recently hosted award winning Nigerian writer, Lesley Nneka Arimah, in collaboration with Farafina Books. She is the author of a collection of short stories titled, “What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky,” which won the 2019 Caine Prize for Africa.

Café one, dubbed as a place where innovation meets community, was designed for comfort and equipped to provide banking services with ease and convenience. The space boasts of serving the best coffee and pastries in Lagos, provided in partnership with gourmet coffee brand, My Coffee Lagos.

According to Tobi Jaiyesimi, Business Manager, Cafe One, the book reading event tagged, “In Conversation with Arimah,” is one of the ways through which the platform is connecting with its community of innovators who are desirous of upping their craft.

The session was anchored by Ope Adedeji, Managing Editor at Zikoko, who quizzed the author on the inspiration behind the themes explored in her stories, her journey as an author, her mentors, hobby, among others.

Responding, Ms Arimah said she was elated when her work was selected as the winning entry in the Caine Prize for Africa writing competition. She told the audience that she tried to follow human logic while writing, saying “it is good we are telling our stories by ourselves.”

She said the inspiration for the book came from an observation she had with a friend.

On how to publish quality writings, she enjoined the audience made up of budding writers to read voraciously in a bid to get ideas on what to write on, make note of ideas as they come, try not to put too much pressure on their works and also try to internalise their ideas.

‘What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky,’ was published in 2017 and explores the ties that bind couples, families, lovers and friends to one another and to the places they call home.

Ms. Arimah is a Nigerian writer who has been described as “a skilful storyteller who can render entire relationships with just a few lines of dialogue” and “a new voice with certain staying power.”

She was born in London in 1983 and grew up in both Nigeria and the United Kingdom (UK) before moving to the United States (US) in her early teens. In 2015, her story “Light” won the 2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Africa.

Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Harper, Per Contra, and other publications. In September 2017, she was named as one of the fiction writers honoured by the National Book Foundation, called “Five Under 35.”

In April 2017, her debut collection of short stories was published by Riverhead Books and Tinder Press (UK). It is titled “What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky” and it was republished in Nigeria, by Farafina Books, in November 2017.

It won the Kirkus Prize for Fiction, the Minnesota Book Award for Fiction and the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award and in January 2018, it was shortlisted for the 9Mobile Prize for Literature.

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NSE begins week bullish, gains N93bn



NSE begins week bullish, gains N93bn

Trading activities on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) yesterday commenced the week on a positive track as the overall market performance indices firmed up with a gain of 0.71 per cent.

Transactions on the stock market had last Friday recorded a decline to close on the red territory following depreciable demand by investors on sustained market apathy.

Consequently, the All-Share Index gained 190.6 basis points or 0.71 per cent to close at 27,115.89 index points as against 26.925.29 recorded last Friday while the market capitalisation closed from N13.121 trillion at the weekend to N13.214 trillion.

Meanwhile, a turnover of 250.7 million shares exchanged in 4116 deals was recorded in the day’s trading.

The premium sub-sector was the most active (measured by turnover volume); with 128.8 million shares exchanged by investors in 1,541 deals.

Volume in the sub-sector was largely driven by the activities in the shares of Lafarge Africa Plc and UBA Plc.

The banking sub-sector, boosted by the activities in the shares of Fidelity Bank Plc and ETI Plc, followed with a turnover of 41.9 million shares in 901 deals.

The number of gainers at the close of trading session was 20 while decliners closed at 13.

Further analysis of the day’s trading showed that Courtville Business Solutions Plc topped the gainers’ table with 10 per cent to close at 22 kobo per share respectively while UACN Plc followed with 6.67 per cent to close at N4.80 per share and FCMB Plc with a gain of five per cent to close at N1.68 per share.

On the flip side, Cadbury Nigeria Plc led the losers’ chart with a drop of 9.71 per cent to close at N9.30 per share. Chams Plc followed with a loss of 8.70 per cent each to close at 21 kobo per share while Unity Bank Plc dropped by 5.80 per cent to close at 65 kobo per share.

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CBN:Bad debt ratio drops to 9.36%



CBN:Bad debt ratio drops to 9.36%

The Non-Performing Loan (NPL) ratio in the country’s banking system dropped to single digit at 9.36 per cent in June 2019 for the first time in about three months, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said.

Deputy Governor in charge of Financial System Stability at the apex bank, Mrs. Aishah Ahmad, stated this in her personal statement for the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting last month, which along with other MPC members’ personal statements were posted on the CBN’s website yesterday.

The MPC members stated that the continuous decline in banks’ NPL ratios indicated that the Nigerian financial sector remains sound even as they expressed concern over low level of credit to the private sector as well as the likely impact of external vulnerabilities on domestic economy.

According to her, “banking industry soundness indicators remain positive; Non-Performing Loan (NPL) ratios turned single digit at 9.36 per cent in June 2019 for the first time in 40 months, whilst industry capital adequacy, liquidity and profitability are robust.

“However, several months of low credit to the private sector amidst burgeoning treasury securities activity prompted the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) policy statement on July 3, mandating DMBs to build up their minimum Loan to Deposit Ratio (LDR) to 60 per cent over a three month period, with additional incentives (150 per cent weighting) for new SMEs, retail, mortgage and consumer loans.”

She further stated that the “focus on the minimum industry LDR is expected to stimulate additional private sector credit growth,reduce credit concentration in energy assets and large corporates and lower the cost of credit – which has remained sticky downwards despite recent decreases in treasury yields. This expanded finance for individuals and small businesses will create jobs, enhance consumer spending and stimulate growth.”

Similarly, in his personal statement, Professor  Dahiru Balami said: “In July 2019, the financial soundness indicators showed that the Nigerian financial sector had remained sound. The Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) stood at 15.26 per cent, which was slightly above the prudential requirements of 15 per cent. This compares favourably with Nigeria’s peers, such as South Africa, Malaysia and Turkey with CAR of 16.4, 17.3 and 18.1 per cent respectively.

“Also of importance was the decline of the Non-Performing loans (NPLs), which was a good signal that CBN policies in relation to NPLs were effective. Similarly, the liquidity ratio (LR) in June 2019 improved year-on-year and higher than that of peer’s countries. The performance of the banking sector in terms of both Return on Equity (ROE) and Return on Asset (ROA) pointed to a healthy position of the banking sector.

“Key major risks and vulnerabilities identified in the Nigerian banking were slow economic growth, high inflation, growing debts sticky NPLs; Security and insurgency challenges.”

Commenting on external risks to the Nigerian economy, CBN Deputy Governor, Corporate Services Directorate, Mr. Edward Lamtek Adamu, stated in his statement that “much like the previous meeting, the July 2019 meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) held against the backdrop of continued stability in key domestic economic and financial system indicators relative to 2018. It is however concerning that external vulnerabilities have continued to build and could soon start to undermine domestic stability unless enough safeguards are put in place.”

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Nigerian bourse lists Greenwich Alpha ETF



Nigerian bourse lists Greenwich Alpha ETF

The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) yesterday listed Greenwich Asset Management Limited’s ‘Greenwich Alpha ETF on its daily official list.

The Greenwich Alpha ETF units were listed at N100 each following an Initial Public Offer (IPO) on Monday, August 19, 2019.

Greenwich Alpha is an open-ended ETF, which tracks the NSE 30 Index. The index constitutes 30 of the most liquid and capitalised stocks trading on the exchange. It is designed for investors to access the constituent companies of the NSE 30 index, thereby getting the performance of the index.

Speaking at the listing, the Managing Director, Greenwich Asset Management Limited, Mr. Dayo Obisan, said: “The Greenwich Alpha ETF Fund is designed for and offered to investors seeking exposure to the Nigerian equities market, particularly to the constituents of the NSE-30 index. It offers the full benefits of diversification through a single transaction thereby reducing associated transaction cost and helping investors spread their risk. We will continue to encourage retail and institutional investment in this Fund based on its potentials.”

On his part, Head, Trading Business Division, NSE, Mr. Jude Chiemeka, said: “We are delighted to welcome Greenwich Asset Management Limited to our growing list of ETF providers. Globally, ETFs continue to make an impact as effective tools for accessing the market, diversifying investments, and serves as an alternative investment solution for intermediaries to recommend to their clients.

“As the leading stock exchange for listing and trading ETFs in West Africa, we will continue to lead innovation in the market as well as support the issuance of products and investment vehicles that meet the objectives of investors. We operate an efficient, orderly and transparent market based on cutting edge technology, to support product development efforts for the benefit of all investors.

“We remain resolute in our commitment to partnering with all market stakeholders, to continue to build and develop the Nigerian capital market, while offering a wide range of investment vehicles for all investors.”

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Zenith Bank posts N89bn net earnings in HY ’19



Zenith Bank posts N89bn net earnings in HY ’19

Zenith Bank Plc has recorded a profit after tax of N88.882 billion for the half year ended June 30, 2019 as against N81.737 billion reported in 2018, representing a growth of 8.74 per cent.

In a filing with the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), the group’s pre-tax profit also rose by 4.02 per cent from N107.358 billion during the previous year to N111.677 billion during the period under review.

The lender’s gross earnings stood at N331.586 billion as against N322.201 billion posted in 2018, accounting for a growth of three per cent.

The management of the bank in a statement noted that as a testament to its commitment to its shareholders, the bank also announced a proposed interim dividend pay-out of 30 kobo per share.

“The gross earnings was driven by a significant growth of 24 per cent year-on-year (Y-o-Y) in non-interest income from N88.6 billion in H1 2018 to N109.7 billion in H1 2019. In particular, fees from electronic products increased by N17bn (168 per cent) from N10 billion in H1 2018 to N27 billion in H1 2019, demonstrating significant progress in our retail banking initiatives.

“This top-line growth filtered through to the bottom-line as Profit Before Tax (PBT) increased to N111.7 billion reflecting a 4 per cent growth over N107.4 billion reported in H1 2018 with earnings per share (EPS) increasing by 9 per cent to N2.83 in H1 2019 from N2.60 compared to the prior period.

“Between December 2018 and June 2019, the group’s total deposit increased by three per cent with retail deposits growing by N267 billion (31 per cent), from N861 billion to close at N1.1 trillion. Despite the growth in our deposit base, we optimized interest expense leading to a four per cent reduction from N74.7 billion to N72.1 billion due to the group’s improved funding mix and our profound treasury management skills. Net Interest Margins (NIMs) witnessed a compression from 10 per cent in the same period last year to 8.6 per cent in H1 2019, as a result of the declining yield environment but cost of funds improved from 3.4 per cent to 3.0 per cent.

“Our robust risk management ensured that our absolute gross Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) remained flat. However, the marginal movement in NPL ratio was as a result of the three per cent reduction in our loan book from N2.02 trillion as at December 2018 to N1.95 trillion at the end of the period. We are creatively deploying new retail loan products to ensure we capture a reasonable share of the retail loan market. We remain committed to maintaining our strong balance sheet with liquidity ratio at 74.6 per cent and Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) at 25 per cent, ensuring we remain above regulatory thresholds.

“Going into the second half of the year, we will continue to consolidate our leadership in the corporate space while our retail banking drive will continue unabated. We expect to see an improvement in economic activities even as we maintain our promise of delivering a unique service experience to our customers,” the bank noted.

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NDPHC seeks evacuation of 3,000 MW stranded power



NDPHC seeks evacuation of 3,000 MW stranded power

The Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) at the weekend underscored the need for evacuation of about 3, 000 megawatt stranded in Nigeria’s power value chain.

The company also announced the completion of about 100 power projects including distribution systems between 2015 and 2019.

The projects, Managing Director, NDPHC, Mr. Chiedu Ugbo, said in a document, were inherited by the current administration when it took over mantle of leadership.

The document, which formed major part of the speech Ugbo delivered at the commissioning of a substation built by NDPHC in Abeokuta, capital of Ogun state, noted that the 100 projects consist of about 30 major power projects and 70 distribution systems.

Speaking on the newly launched sub-station, Ugbo said: “The newly commissioned project would eliminate load shedding and power supply constraints in Abeokuta and environs.

“This is one of the many of uncompleted power projects inherited and completed by this administration. Between May 2015 and now, about 30 power projects inherited by this government have been completed. Seventy distribution systems have also been completed by this administration.”

Over 3,000 installed power capacity, he said, were stranded “due to massive load rejection by Discos.”

Other infrastructure like lines that convey electricity from Ikeja West to Abeokuta, which were obsolete, have now been upgraded from 70 MW to about 250MW.

The Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, it would be recalled, commissioned the Otta/Papalanto/Abeokuta composite project that is made up of a new 2×60MVA, 132/33KV relief substation for Abeokuta; line bay extension works at Otta, Papalantoro and old Abeokuta 132/33KV sub-station.

He also commissioned a new 77.5KM, 132K double circuit line, replacing the old and worn-out single circuit lines between Otta, Papalantoro old Abeokuta right-up to the new Abeokuta sub-station.

According to Ugbo, the new 2×60MVA, 132/33KV substations of Abeokuta, would provide reliable power off-take via six 33KV distribution feeders to the state capital (Abeokuta) and its environs.

He explained further that the 1×60MVA transformer at Otta would provide additional power supply via three 33KV feeders to Otta and its environs.

Ugbo underscored the importance of the projects, saying they would impact positively on power supply to Abeokuta, Otta axis and environs.

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Equities: FMDQ mulls listing firms



Equities: FMDQ mulls listing firms

FMDQ Securities Exchange has said that following the approval by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), moving it from ‘an OTC Market’ to a full-fledged ‘Securities Exchange, it is planning among other things to enter the equity market.

Addressing journalists on the development, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the firm, Mr. Bola Onadele Koko, said: “We will be in the equity market when we win the first listing. The fact that we want to do equity does not mean it will be now. Companies take time to come for equity, so the time line we don’t know.”

The exchange has also activated and operationalised two wholly-owned subsidiaries, FMDQ Clear Limited and FMDQ Depository Limited, both positioned to provide efficient post-trade services, among others; making FMDQ a one-stop financial market infrastructure group and an integrated platform to execute, clear and settle financial market transactions.

Contrary to reports that the new FMDQ Securities Exchange Plc would break the monopoly enjoyed by the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) as a platform to trade securities in Nigeria, Onalede said the exchange  did not intend to compete with the NSE.

He said that the new securities exchange was looking at how it can create new entities for the future, work and nurture them, work with SMEs and private companies in Nigeria, which have not had access to long term financing.

He said: “We are not playing the game of attacking the NSE; that is not our role or our job or the way we do business. Rather, we are looking at how to create new entities for the future, to work and nurture them, to work with SMEs, private companies in Nigeria that have not had access to long term financing, so we are in the business of planning 20-30 years ahead and working with Nigerian entities in getting prosperity to Nigerians.

Onadele further revealed that FMDQ was putting some internal touches as regards equities, adding that it will be in the equities market when it does the first listing of a Nigerian company.

He said: “We are working hard and there are internal things that need to be put in place to ensure that we are fully ready and we will be in the equities market when we do the first listing, but what is important is that we are now a securities exchange that can offer market services.

“We do not think any other African country should have financial market better than the financial market in Nigeria. So there is need for us to position the Nigerian capital market to be number one in terms of standards, governance, transparency, and we have to work on the liquidity as much as we can and we have to give the stakeholders, not just the Nigerian investors but clearing houses that will match any international standard and all these matches with our vision at FMDQ.”

He, thereafter, assured that the exchange would continue to trade in all securities including fixed income, derivatives, commodities and foreign exchange.

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