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Banks enrol 65,753 mobile money agents

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Banks enrol 65,753 mobile money agents

Underperformance
Nigeria lags behind its peers in sub-Saharan Africa in terms of mobile money

 

Chances of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) meeting its target of having 500,000 mobile money agents to serve about 105 million adult Nigerians by the year 2020 looks increasingly remote, as financial institutions in the country have so far enrolled only 65,753 of such agents.
This means that with less than two years to the target date, the industry still needs to enrol about 434,247 mobile money agents.

 

According to latest data obtained from the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS), the total number of enrolled mobile money agents in the country stood at 38,416 as at December 2018. With Q1 2019 figures released by NIBSS recently showing that a total of 27,337 of the agents were enrolled in the first three months of this year, it means that the nation now has about 65,753 officially registered mobile money agents.

 

The NIBSS data also shows that the number of mobile money customers recorded in the industry at the end of 2018 and in the first quarter of this year, stood at 8.5 million and 2.3 million respectively. This means that the total number of mobile money customers in the country currently stands at 10.8 million.

 

A further breakdown of the data shows that total transaction volume and value recorded for this payment channel in the first three months of this year stood at 20.4million and N107.6 billion respectively. For the whole of 2018, the figures indicate that a total transaction volume and value of 87.1million and N1.8 trillion were recorded.

 

Nigeria had in 2012 launched an ambitious National Financial Inclusion Strategy that CBN had said would help the country achieve 20 per cent financial exclusion rate by 2020. The regulator had targeted 62 mobile money agents per 100,000 adults in the 2012 strategy.

 

However, last January, the apex bank unveiled a revised National Financial Inclusion Strategy in which it projected that there would be about 500,000 mobile money/bank agents available to serve about 105 million adult Nigerians by the year 2020. The figure translates to about 476 agents per 100,000 adults.

 

The revised National Financial Inclusion Strategy also rolled out steps on how the country would get 80 per cent of its adult population become financially included by the end of next year.

 

“The justification for this new figure is based on recent developments in the financial sector aimed at taking financial services to the unserved and under-served using branchless platforms such as agent banking and digital platforms,” the CBN said in the new document.

 

Although progress has been made, the 2018 Access to Finan      cial Services (A2F) survey conducted by the Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access (EFInA), showed that financial inclusion rate dropped from 41.6 per cent in 2016 to 36.8per cent.

Interestingly, this was despite the rise in Nigeria’s banked population, which increased steadily to 39.7 per cent, from 21.1per cent, even as 95.9 per cent of the 27,000 survey respondents said they unaware of mobile money services.

In a report released last year, the International Financial Corporation (IFC) stated that Nigeria was lagging behind its peers in sub-Saharan Africa in terms of financial inclusion and mobile money.

 

In the report entitled: “Digital Access: The Future of Financial Inclusion in Africa”, the IFC said the number of financially excluded people in Nigeria increased by 2.1per cent in 2017 to 40.1 million.

 

Significantly, the Corporation blamed the country’s underperformance on the slow growth in mobile money.

 

It noted that the number of mobile money accounts expanded by just six per cent in Nigeria in 2017, compared with double-digit growth in many jurisdictions.

 

The study attributed the sluggish growth of mobile money in Nigeria to CBN’s guidelines of 2009 that barred mobile operators from offering mobile money products.

 

“Instead, the central bank has awarded operating licenses to companies ranging from retail banks to financial technology firms,” the report stated. “The target to reduce the excluded ratio to 20 per cent of Nigerian adults by 2020 looks highly ambitious.”

 

It would be recalled that as part of efforts to boost financial inclusion in the country, industry stakeholders which include the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System Plc. (NIBSS), CBN, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), commercial banks and other operators in the payment system had last year developed a Shared Agent Network Expansion Facility (SANEF) initiative to offer basic financial services across the country.

 

The initiative involves on-boarding 40 million low income and unserved Nigerians into the financial system, increasing financial access points from the current 50,000 to 500,000 by 2020 and deepening access to mobile and digital financial products and services such as savings accounts, micro loans, insurance, pensions by Nigerians.

 

 

 

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Business

Forex restriction for food import:

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Forex restriction for food import:

Prices of bread, beer, soft drinks, tomatoes, others to rise

 

 

As the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele declares the readiness of the apex bank to enforce the recent directive by President Muhammadu Buhari to stop giving foreign exchange (FOREX) to importers of food, experts warn the strict enforcement of the directive will worsen Nigeria’s food inflation. PAUL OGBUOKIRI reports:

 

Presidential directive

In a reaction to the criticisms that trailed the reported directive by President Muhammadu Buhari to the Central Bank to stop giving Forex to importers of food items; the presidency has said that the presidential directive on food importation, is not simply a blanket ban, rather, it was a directive to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stop opening Letters of Credit for the importation of food.

 

 

The implication of this Sunday Telegraph learnt is that like the 43 items that were declared no valid to get Forex from the Central Bank, pending when the apex ban will commence enforcement of the directive, all food imports into Nigeria, will no be eligible for Forex allocation from the Central Bank.

According to President Buhari, the aim of the directive is to conserve foreign reserve which can be utilized strictly for the diversification of the economy, and not for encouraging more dependence on foreign food import bills. “Don’t give a cent to anybody to import food into the country,” he was quoted as saying.

 

 

It was disclosed that when the restriction order is enforced, businessman and businesswoman in Nigeria who depended on the banks for foreign currency to import food items into the country would have to source from alternative dealers which tends to be more expensive.

Manufacturers kick

 

 

Meanwhile, the Association of Food, Beverage & Tobacco Employers, has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria to engage operators in the food industry, before it implements the ban on Forex for food importation.

In a statement, the President of the association, Patrick Anegbe, said: “We appeal to government to engage the organised private sector and stakeholders in the food industry to discuss the issues involved in this matter more thoroughly before a final position on how to proceed is taken.

“We would like to trust that the government will allow for this step in the spirit of our sustained partnership with it over the years in addressing the various economic issues affecting the Nigerian state.”

 

 

He noted that the CBN had towards the end of July announced the decision to deny access to foreign exchange for the importation of milk and other dairy products.

“The negative economic implications of the move in the short-run on the performance of the affected companies and the overall economy had been widely highlighted by experts, industrialists and managers of the targeted businesses,” he said.

One critical aspect, he mentioned, was the impact the sudden ban would have on the overall financial results of the companies affected which would also likely lead to loss of jobs among others.

 

 

“The organised private sector had tried to draw the attention of CBN to the danger in not allowing for a reasonable period of time for those concerned to make adequate preparations to source their imported milk and dairy products locally.”

But the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, says the apex bank is committed to implementing its policy on restriction of foreign exchange issued for importation of food items into the country.

Financial experts knock policy

 

 

The former Deputy Governor of the CBN, Professor Kingsley Moghalu, said in a series of tweets via his Twitter handle, @MoghaluKingsley, the directive will result in a negative outcome to the economy.

“The implication of this draconian order is that importers will go to the parallel market to purchase dollar and in turn increase dollar value to naira, and at the end put pressure on our reserve and naira,” Moghalu said.

 

 

The presidential candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) in the 2019 presidential elections said the government should rather make the country’s agriculture competitive and import will fizzle out.

Urging the president to allow the CBN to discharge its mandate independently within the ambit of the CBN Act, and stop subjecting it to such directives, Moghalu said the apex bank should assert its independence.

 

 

According to him, the entire Nigerian economy appears to have been “sub-contracted” to the CBN, including industrial and trade policies, resulting in the economy faring poorly, and the bank losing its independence.

 

 

To create a level playing field for all players, the CBN deputy governor said the country’s marketplace should be regulated and guided in a rational manner.

 

 

“Our economy will not be saved by ad hoc political decisions like this (directive on Forex) handed down by the very institutions that should be shielded from the whim and caprices of politicians.

“The issue here isn’t whether or not CBN should allow access to Forex for food imports. It is about whether such an economic policy of a Central Bank should be imposed by a political authority. A major reason for our poverty, instability and weak economy is weak institutions,” he said.

Bismarck Rewane, an economist and the head of Lagos-based consultancy Financial Derivatives, also says the apex bank is supposed to be independent.

 

 

Rewane told Reuters that foreign exchange restrictions for food imports could backfire after Buhari signed up to the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) last month.

 

 

That AfCFTA seeks to create a continent-wide free trade zone where tariffs on most goods would be eliminated.

“At this point in time these rules will be manipulated in the interest of smugglers and their accomplices,” says Rewane.

It will be recalled that import controls on rice, imposed even as local farmers fail to meet demand, have kept prices artificially high and led to smuggling from neighbouring Benin into Nigeria.

 

 

To game the system, importers have been masking imported food as ‘machinery’ into Nigeria, because the government places a premium on importation of machinery and readily grants forex for anything tagged ‘machinery’.

This is even as the publicity analyst of Proshare, Taiwo Oyedele in a report, listed 10 reasons why President Buhari should rescind the directive. They are as follows:

 

 

1, Nigeria is not food sufficient, available data suggests the contrary. Stopping FOREX allocation to importers of foods will aggravate an already bad situation

2. Every country imports food. Our focus should be on producing what we are best able to produce, export some and import the rest

 

 

3. The CBN is meant to be independent; it should not be told what to do by the president especially when the decision is not evidence based

 

 

4. Restricting FOREX for food import will increase smuggling as importers seek to moderate their import bills by avoiding duties and port levies. This will in turn push sub-standard imported food items under the radar

5. The policy will push FOREX demand to the parallel market and restore multiple exchange rate margin leading to manipulation and arbitrage. This is capable of undoing the stability gains of the foreign exchange market over the past couple of years

 

 

6. High Forex rate in the alternative market will increase cost of imported foodstuffs leading to high food inflation. There will also be upward price pressures on locally manufactured products that use imported food items as inputs

 

 

7. Less food at higher prices means more hunger especially for poor people. Hungry people are angry people, and angry people are violent people so higher risk of insecurity

 

 

8. Increased smuggling will result in less revenue from import duties leading to higher budget deficits

 

 

9. Self sufficiency in food production cuts across the entire value chain including logistics, transportation, storage, etc. Restricting fx without first addressing these related problems is putting the cart before the horse

 

 

10. Trying to fix all economic problems using monetary policy is like a carpenter trying to fix all broken furniture with a hammer and a nail, it doesn’t always work. A holistic approach should be adopted.

 

 

Policy requires care

 

 

For the CEO of Global Analytics Consulting Limited, Tope Fasua, his sympathy for the president’s directive is measured carefully against the likely impact it will create on the economy.

 

 

The presidential candidate of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) in the 2019 elections said his support for the directive for CBN to restrict Forex for imports of food items into the country was to the point of how it affected milk.

However, he said the situation is assuming a more serious dimension with the president’s latest directive on all food items.

 

 

“Here, one has to be careful to ensure it does not impact the economy more negatively,” he said.

 

 

“I am of the view that we should produce anything we can on our own. But, the timing and implementation of the policy also matters. It will have a far-reaching implication.

 

 

“Already the private sector has been complaining about the restriction of Forex to 43 items. It might lead to a rise in prices if one has to recover the cost of sourcing for Forex to bring in what people need.”

 

 

Background

 

 

On June 23, 2015, a notice from the CBN’s Trade and Exchange Department to the general public and authorised Forex dealers listed some 41 imported goods and services that were included on the list of items considered not valid for Forex in the Nigerian Forex market.

 

 

Among the items were food items like rice, margarine, palm kernel/palm oil products/vegetable oils, meat and processed meat products, vegetables and processed vegetable products, poultry (chicken, eggs, and turkey), tinned fish in sauce/sardines, tomatoes/tomato pastes.

 

 

Most other foods that captures in the ban including bread made from wheat floor and other which the country is making attempt to produce but have not been able to enough to feed its over 198 million population, would likely make the list.

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Business

Price of yam drops by 100% in Enugu

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Price of yam drops by 100% in Enugu

…as yam output in Nigeria is estimated at 44mm tonnes

 

A

s Nigeria’s yam output this year is estimated at 44mm tones, dealers in the produce in major markets in Enugu metropolis said on Friday that harvesting of new yams has forced down the price of the commodity by about 100 per cent.

A cross-section of the dealers said in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday that new yam had flooded the market, hence the fall in the price.

One of them, Mr Ejike Nwanna, said that the price depended on the size of the commodity.

 

He said that five medium-size tubers, which sold at N4, 500 before the harvest season, now go for between N2, 000 and N2, 500.

Ejikes said that the price of yam is never fixed in the market, saying that it is always negotiable, depending on the size and specie of the yam.

 

Another yam dealer at Garki Market, Agbani Road, Mrs. Esther Ezeora, said that farmers recorded good harvest this year because there was enough rain.

“Many farmers planted yam this season and harvest was bountiful, forcing down the price,” Ezeora said.

 

Another yam seller at Akwata Market, Mr. Sunday Iwuoha, also attributed the price fall to the bumper harvest, leading to more yams in the market.

 

“Farmers are forced to sell the produce at cheap prices because they have problems of storing the yam for a longer period,” Iwuoha said.

“The price of 50 tubers medium size of yam goes for between N13, 000 and N13, 500 as against N20, 000 before the harvest season,” he said.

 

Mr. Greg Ume, a buyer expressed delight over the development, saying that the commodity had become more affordable than before.

Ume said that with the bumper harvest, there will be food on the table in many homes.

 

A civil servant, Mrs. Ego Inyama, said that she was happy that new yam was now available and affordable.

 

“Most mothers were already getting fed up with the rice-and-beans meal on a daily basis. Now we can complement with yam,” Inyama said.

Yam is a widely consumed staple in Nigeria. The country is the second largest producer of yams and tubers in the world (111.64mm tonnes) coming next to China.

 

Nigeria has faced serious challenges lifting its production to a level of global competitiveness. It is expected that with the advent of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and in response to CBN’s incentives including the anchor borrowers’ programme, we will see Nigeria’s production of yam and possible exports become a major source of employment and growth.

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Business

Gloom in Nigeria’s downstream oil sector persists –Meristem

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With earnings season now over, analysts at Meristem Securities said taking more than a cursory glance at the H1:2019 financial scorecards for Nigeria’s downstream segment, the narrative is largely unchanged from Q1, although with a further shift in fortunes to the downside.

They disclosed that in the first six months of 2019, overall topline for listed players (ex-OANDO) took a 1.67 per cent hit, pitching in at NGN584.54 billion (vs. NGN594.45 billion in H1:2018), as product stockpiles built up.

TOTAL lost 3.48 per cent by recording NGN150.83 billion), MRS (-52.18 per cent; NGN29.80 billion) and their ilk, large retail networks were not enough to drive substantial topline growth.

 

 

Sunday Telegraph notes that while TOTAL shut down some of its retail outlets during the period for renovation/upgrades, MRS shifted emphasis from serving its Bulk/Industrial customers (which historically are receivables-laden) to a retail-driven strategy, a shift which has impacted its revenues in the short-term but is certain to deliver better efficiency in asset-use in the long-term.

Meanwhile, Meristim Securities analyst said that after a 4-month hiatus resulting in suspension by the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), CONOIL finally turned in its 2018FY, Q1:2019 and H1:2019 results.

 

 

They said that while its governance issues remain a critical red flag, the company is staking a claim to the crown of “downstream darling” after posting a NGN72.22 billion topline (+32.56 per cent) in the half year and significant bottomline growth, in spite of the prevailing environment.

According to them, the bottomline growth across the segment was a sizeable 8.33 per cent (NGN8.72 billion to NGN9.44 billion), albeit propped by FO’s NGN5.45 billion (+1,386.97 per cent) and CONOIL’s NGN1.03 billion (+87.54 per cent), as all other players recorded earnings

 

declines.

They stated that the FO’s result was purely a one-off income booked on the back of outstanding subsidy payments, which suggestively waters down the quality of the earnings growth posted.

The consensus is clear – the risks in Nigeria’s downstream are as diverse as they are knotty. As Nigeria work towards domestic sufficiency in refined products in the near term, PMS prices, said Meristem analysts, need a much-needed lift as quickly as is realistically possible.

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Business

Sterling donates uniforms to Sokoto govt

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Sterling donates uniforms to Sokoto govt

N

igeria’s leading commercial bank, Sterling Bank Plc has donated more than one thousand pieces of uniforms to the Sokoto State Government as part of an effort to boost sanitation and hygiene in the state and in furtherance of the bank’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative known as the Sterling Environmental Makeover (STEM).

 

The uniforms, which will be passed on to the Sokoto Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) to enhance the performance of sanitation workers in the state, are intended to give the sanitation workers an identity while on duty, according to the management of Sterling Bank.

While presenting the overall uniforms to the Sokoto State Commissioner for the Environment, Honourable Sagir Attahiru Bafarawa, the duo of Ibrahim Aliero and Ado Shehu, Sterling Bank’s Branch Manager, Institutional Banking and Branch Manager respectively, urged the state government to intensify efforts at keeping the state clean, adding that the bank is aware that government alone cannot realise its objective of keeping the environment clean.

 

According to Ibrahim Aliero, “the essence of the presentation is to compliment the state government efforts towards maintaining a clean environment.

 

“At Sterling Bank, we are concerned about our business environment. The overall sanitation kits donated to SEPA is part of our bank’s corporate social responsibility idea to sustain a clean environment, more so we believe that a clean environment is important for conducive business activities.

 

“These overall kits are durable and of good quality that will endure the vagaries of the weather for a long time.”

 

In appreciation, Honourable Bafarawa applauded Sterling Bank for the significant role it is playing in ensuring a sustainable environment as part of its corporate social responsibility.

The commissioner also called on all other stakeholders to emulate the good gesture of Sterling Bank towards the state government in the effort to keep Sokoto State clean.

 

He said, “Sanitation is not the responsibility of government alone. I therefore enjoin all other stakeholders and corporate organisations to support government efforts in ensuring a clean environment.”

 

Sani Abdullahi, a street sweeper who spoke on behalf of his colleagues during the presentation ceremony, commended Sterling Bank for the donation.

 

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AutoBeat / Auto Trends

Remodeled 8th generation Sonata to make Nigeria debut

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T

he remodeled eighth generation Hyundai Sonata will soon make Nigeria debut, having undergone remarkable makeover that incorporates Hyundai’s third generation vehicle platform with amazingly inspiring appearance and improved performance.

The new platform according to Hyundai Motor Company is aimed at improving the market competitiveness of the Hyundai Sonata and its subsequent models, which are already being infused with greater flexibility, enhanced overall design, safety, efficiency and outstanding driving dynamics.

Hyundai Motor Company Head of Styling/Vice President Simon Loasby, gave this hints in Seoul Korea at the international premiere of the Sonata and E-Segment Palisade SUV.

He said that the remodeled Sonata has brought with it fresh chapter for Hyundai’s longest-standing model, yet continuing a global success story that started in 1985.

Unlike its predecessors, the eight-generation Sonata is a fourh-door coupe-styled sedan that showcases Hyundai’s ‘Sensuous Sportiness’ design language.

And as a signature product for the brand, the Sonata represents Hyundai’s future design vision, which incorporates advanced safety systems and cutting-edge technology that is engineered to be seamless and intuitive in function.

Suffice to say that the latest Sonata is the first model to adopt Hyundai’s new innovative ‘third generation’ modular vehicle platform, which delivers increased strength and reduced weight to enable improvements in design, safety, efficiency and driving performance.

This is in addition to an extensive application of advanced technologies to boost comfort, convenience and active safety, just as it ranked amongst Hyundai models to premiere a new collaboration with Bose to deliver an exceptional audio experience.

The new platform, however, rides on the dais of its predecessor, enabling a stable design with a lower center of gravity that allows Hyundai to implement sporty and stylish design elements to the new Sonata, Mr. Loasby affirmed.

“The new generation Sonata is also offering reduced weight and improved fuel efficiency, while achieving stronger durability with the new platform.”

 

 

What’s more, the platform will among other niceties deliver significant improvement in collision safety through the adoption of a multi-load path structure, ‘Hot Stamping’ and super-high tensile steel plate.

The sophisticated multi-load path increases the energy absorbed by the vehicle in a collision thus improving safety and minimizing collision impact in the passenger cabin.

Hyundai said the platform has been designed to allow the tyres to move outward during a small overlap collision to maximize occupant’s safety. This particular technology prevents vehicle from spinning and prevents possible secondary collision.

The extended application of Hot Stamping, Hyundai reiterated is capable of preventing deformation of the passenger room, thereby improving vehicle safety as well as enhancing power, driving performance, which have all been infused in the next generation engine called the Smartstream Powertrain.

Also featuring a system that controls the flow of air, the new platform improves air movement to the engine bay and heat dissipation, which enhances stability in the lower part of the vehicle and subsequently minimizing air resistance to deliver excellent efficiency and power performance.

 

 

The Korean automaker said this transformation will enhance handling by dramatically expanding lateral stiffness, while positioning the steering closer to the wheel center and providing stable and balanced driving performance through tyre-optimization technology.

Above all, Hyundai has numbed offensive cabin noise, using reinforced sound-absorbing systems to laden vibration-sensitive parts.

In addition, a newly designed ‘Digital Pulse Cascading Grille’ spans the front of the new Sonata with combination headlamps each featuring a distinctive and innovative new lighting system.

This includes LED daytime running lights embedded with ‘Hidden Lighting Lamps’ – the running lights appear to form part of a chrome decoration when the car is switched off but dramatically illuminate when the driver starts the engine.

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AutoBeat / Auto Trends

Jaguar Land Rover develops info tech for safe driving

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J

aguar Land Rover is developing next-generation head-up display technology that could beam real-time safety information in front of the driver, and allow passengers to stream 3D movies direct from their seats as part of a shared, autonomous future.

Engineers are working on a powerful new 3D head-up display to project safety alerts, such as lane departure, hazard detection, satnav directions, and to reduce the effect of poor visibility in poor weather or light conditions. Augmented reality would add the perception of depth to the image by mapping the messages directly onto the road ahead.

 

 

Studies conducted in Germany, show that the use of Stereoscopic 3D displays in an automotive setting can improves reaction times on ‘popping-out’ instructions and increases depth judgments while driving.*

In the future, the innovative technology could be used by passengers to watch 3D movies. Head and eye tracking technology would follow the user’s position to ensure they can see 3D pictures without the need for individual screens or shutter glasses worn at the cinema.

In a fully autonomous future, the 3D displays would offer users a personalised experience and allow ride-sharers to independently select their own infotainment. Several passengers sharing a journey would be able to enjoy their own choice of media – including journey details, points of interest or movies – and optimised for where they are seated.

 

 

The research – undertaken in partnership with the Centre for Advanced Photonics and Electronics (CAPE) at University of Cambridge – is focused on developing an immersive head-up display, which will closely match real-life experience allowing drivers to react more naturally to hazards and prompts.

Valerian Meijering, Human Machine Interface & Head-Up Display Researcher for Jaguar Land Rover, said: “Development in virtual and augmented reality is moving really quickly. This consortium takes some of the best technology available and helps us to develop applications suited to the automotive sector. Not only does it provide a much richer experience for customers, but it also forms part of our Destination Zero roadmap; helping us to move towards a safer, more intuitive and smarter future, for everybody.”

Professor Daping Chu, Director of Centre for Photonic Devices and Sensors and Director of the Centre for Advanced Photonics and Electronics, said: “This programme is at the forefront of development in the virtual reality space – we’re looking at concepts and components which will set the scene for the connected, shared and autonomous cars of the future. CAPE Partners are world-leading players strategically positioned in the value chain network. Their engagement provides a unique opportunity to make a greater impact on society and further enhance the business value of our enterprises.”

The next-generation head-up display research forms part of the development into Jaguar Land Rover’s ‘Smart Cabin’ vision: applying technologies which combine to create a personalised space inside the vehicle for driver and passengers with enhanced safety, entertainment and convenience features as part of an autonomous, shared future.

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Business

Price of smoked fish decrease at Oyinbgo Market

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he price of smoked fish which has been stable at N3000 in recent months at Oyingbo Market has decreased by about 18 per cent to N2500 at Oyingbo Market, Lagos Mainland.

The price rose to N3000 during 2018 Christmas and Yew Year festivities and had remained stable at that price ever since till this week when the price crashed by 18 per cent.

Despite the harsh economic situation, Sunday Telegraph learnt on Friday that traders in the market were making brisk business as there was increase in patronage from housewives and restaurant operators who seemed excited by the reduction in the price of the very important soup condiment.

Consumers and sellers spoken to by our correspondent disclosed that they are enjoying fall in price in many years since the Boko Haram insurgency commenced in the North East, which is the primary source of the variety of smoked fish mainly demanded by consumers.

The consumers said during the third and fourth quarter of the year, the price of the fish normally comes down because there is normally high fishing activities at the Lake Chad.

Meanwhile, at the Garage market, Mrs. Ime Elele, told Sunday Telegraph that the price of noodles has increased with a carton of Indomie (small size) formerly sold at N1700 now selling at N2100. She decried the rise in price, saying the money that would have easily bought fifteen cartoons can only buy eight cartons nowadays.

She also decried low patronage where customers who normally buy in large quantities now buy in bits, a development she said has made the gains from such sales not enticing again.

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Business

Firstbank Agric Expo set to promote new agribusiness opportunities

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igeria’s premier and leading financial services provider, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, has announced that its 2019 FirstBank Agric Expo would hold on Friday, August 30, 2019 at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos. The 2019 edition – the third in the series – is themed Agricultural Value Chain – Spotlighting Opportunities and Managing Risks would have Professor Benedict Oramah, President of AFREXIM Bank as the Keynote Speaker.

 

 

The annual FirstBank Agric Expo, launched in 2017 provides the lead in national discourse on sustainable agriculture value-chain as a substantial source of Nigeria’s economic development, improved contribution to her balance of trade as well as foreign exchange. The 2019 edition would host over 600 delegates and over 60 exhibitors to display the latest technology in farm equipment, tools and machineries as well as packaged finished agricultural produce, logistics and supply, thereby keeping the participants and sundry agribusiness practitioners abreast with new opportunities in the Agricultural industry.

 

 

Besides the plenary session, the expo will feature three Masterclasses with in-depth analysis on specific areas of Agribusiness, facilitated by enterprising Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). The Masterclass facilitators include Mr. Leonard Anyanwu, Group Executive Director, Saro International Limited; Mr. Segun Ogunwale, Team Lead, Kominity Digital and Mr. Bamidele Ayemibo Managing Director, 3T Impex Trade Centre, who will provide insight as well as share success stories and experiences.

 

Expressing his delight on FirstBank leading role at not just promoting Agriculture but diversifying the Nigerian economy, the CEO, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan said, in the last 125 years, more than any other financial institution, we have played a key role in financing different sectors of not just the Nigerian economy but other economies in sub-Saharan Africa. As Nigeria expands opportunities in its non-oil sector – especially Agriculture – we remain committed to the growth of the agricultural sector and its contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.

 

 

Our consistency in convening the FirstBank Agric Expo, which is in its third consecutive edition, is a demonstration of our commitment to building the agribusiness economy which is capable of delivering sustained prosperity by meeting domestic food security goals, generating exports, supporting sustainable income and creating employment opportunities, he concluded.

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AutoBeat / Auto Trends

Toyota plans self-driving escort for Olympic torch, marathon

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oyota will deploy some 3,700 vehicles and mobility products at next year’s Tokyo Summer Olympics, nearly all of them electrified, including a futuristic self-driving pod car that will escort the Olympic torch and lead the marathon race.

The so-called Concept-i will be a working version of a concept first unveiled in 2017. Toyota said the vehicle will demonstrate Level 4 autonomous driving ability and “agent conversation” technology, which uses artificial intelligence to “understand” and interact with humans.

It was unclear whether the Concept-i will be driving itself during its torch and marathon duties.

Despite its wild exterior, replete with top-to-bottom slashed side windows, a wedge-shaped silhouette and concealed rear tires, the Concept-i still gets a conventional steering wheel.

Toyota’s Olympic plan also encompasses a small fleet of autonomous boxcar-like people movers that will shuttle up to 20 passengers apiece. At least a dozen of these e-Palette runabouts will transfer staff and athletes around the Olympic and Paralympic Village. Toyota will also marshal about 500 of its Mirai hydrogen fuel cell sedans to usher people between sporting venues.

Toyota, a top sponsor of next summer’s Olympic games, fleshed out its plans in a news release on Friday under a mobility for all theme. Japan’s biggest automaker said its Olympic vehicle fleet will have the lowest emissions footprint of any so far, thanks to its reliance on electrification.

Toyota also offered the clearest picture yet of the e-Palette, a concept shown at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show. The vehicle is pitched as a cornerstone of mobility as a service.

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Business

FG to deliver 1m houses per year – Minister

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The Federal Government on Saturday promised to address housing deficit by delivering one million houses per year to close the 17 million shortfall by the year 2033.

The Minister of State, Works and Housing, Mr Abubakar Aliyu, disclosed this in Abuja on Saturday during an inspection of the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) mass housing project in Zuba, Federal Capital Territory.

Aliyu said the government had decided to improve on current construction of 100,000 houses per years in order to meet the basic needs of the people.

“The production now is low; we are constructing 100,000 houses per year and we hope to improve it by constructing one million houses per year in order to close the gap of 17 million to 20 million housing deficits by the year 2033.

“That is the target of government; we are committed to doing that and to ensure that the programmes, policies are accomplished

“We will provide enabling environment to attract investors into the sector to help solve the problem of housing deficit in the country and to achieve the government’s goal by 2033,” he said.

Aliyu also said that the problems associated with acquisition of lands would be addressed.

Speaking on the Zuba project, the minister said it was designed specifically to address the huge housing deficit for the middle and low income earners.

He said the project which was to be completed by August was delayed because of the rainy season.

The minister gave assurance that the government would deliver the project as soon as possible.

“We will ensure that the project is completed soon, because it is one of our primary focuses.

“That is why it is our first point of call after inauguration,’’ he said.

Mr Umar Gonto, Acting Managing Director, FHA reiterated government’s commitment to ensuring that the common Nigerians have access to affordable housing

He said that the project was among many others spread across the country by the federal government,.

Gonto said that the houses were designed for low-income earners both in the public and private sector and the self-employed, once they meet up with the criteria.

Mr Ibrahim Shuaibu, the Project Manager, who took the minister round the site, said the 764 housing units were at 75 per cent completion stage.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the housing project is located near the Zuba Model  Market, the Zuba Spare Parts Market and the FCT College of Education.

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