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As FG moves to recoup budget support loans

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As FG moves to recoup budget support loans

As the Federal Government moves to recover N614 billion loans extended to states under the budget support facility programme, some governors are already jittery, especially following their failure to abide by the 22-point specification that guided the credit facility. Abdulwahab Isa reports

 

 

Between 2016 till date, the 36 states of the federation had received two levels of financial support from government at the centre.

These were necessitated by acute insolvency in their financial position occasioned by huge debts.

Save for Lagos, Kano and Rivers states, majority of others practically live on borrowing to function fully.

Some of the challenges faced by majority of states include huge debt obligations, unpaid salaries, and pension in arrears.

To relieve them of the burden, the Federal Government created financial bailout windows with the Paris Club Refunds and Budget Support Loans.

The Paris Club Refunds are the longstanding claims of over-deductions from Paris Club debts made from state government accounts from 1995 to 2002.

The refunds, authorised by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2016, was to cushion the plight of salary earners and pensioners.

These funds had been over-deducted from the states’ FAAC payments to offset foreign loan contracted by states over the years. The Paris club refunds were paid out in tranches to all the states. However, they never  counted as loans as states were entitled to them.

The second bailout, identified budget support loans, was approved in 2016 for states with a repayment clause attached to it.

A total sum of N614 billion conditional loan facility was extended to be repaid after two years. The Ministry of Finance, the Debt Management Office fashioned the conditions upon which its disbursement was carried out. .

Perspective

Essentially, the loan package was part of Federal Government efforts to reset the  economy that entered recession in 2016. 

The idea was to put more money in the hands of states, to enable them liquidate accumulated workers’ salaries, pension obligation and contractual debt.

At a meeting with state commissioners of finance in Abuja to roll out the scheme, Minister of Finance at the time, Mrs. Kemi Adesoun, was explicit on scope of the loan.

She said the loan was secured from the private sector to state governments through the issuance of bonds.

“The budget support facility is a loan, repayable after one year by states. It’s not a grant,” Adeosun said.

Budget support loan to states was tied to 22-point Fiscal Sustainability Plan (FSP). 

The conditions under which the agreement was structured was unanimously agreed by state governors during the National Economic Council meeting that  held on May, 19, 2016.   

The FSP highlighted five key strategic objectives, which include improving accountability & transparency; increasing public revenue; rationalizing public expenditure, as well as improving public financial management and sustainable debt management.

On their part,  the  states were expected to undertake  fiscal reform action plan similar  to public financial management reforms being undertaken by the Federal Government.

They include biometric capture of all civil servants, establishment of an efficiency unit within each state, implementation of continuous audit, improvement in internally generated revenue (IGR) and other measures to achieve sustainable debt management. Access to the proposed facility will be directly tied to the attainment of the fiscal reform milestones under the FSP.

“This is not a bail out, but rather a necessary short term intervention that is conditional on a comprehensive fiscal sustainability reform plan, and which is ultimately intended to set the states on a path towards fiscal sustainability and to support the federal government’s drive to reflate the economy, ” Adeosun noted.

Rules, violation

At the early stage of implementation, the Miinistry of Finance set out a total of 22 conditions contained in the arrangement.

Some of the conditions spelt out are that a restriction would be placed on states borrowing from commercial banks; all states must publish their financial statements, budgets and the quarterly budget performance; state’s finances would no longer be shrouded in secrecy and items like security vote, feeding, travel among others would be made visible. 

Other conditions attached were that states would review obsolete revenue laws and tariffs, and redefine internally generated revenue to include non-tax revenue sources that would reflect local opportunities in each state, especially in solid minerals.    

In the same vein, the states were directed to set targets for recurrent to capital expenditure; set target for personnel costs as a percentage of the total budget; clean up their payroll by eliminating ghost workers as well as set up efficiency unit to reduce the cost of governance. These conditions at best were observed by majority of states in breach. 

Each state was granted N17.5 billion of the budget facility loan.  Regrettably, most states procured the loans without meeting key basic conditions spelt out.  Allegations of bailout diversion have been rife across states.  Salaries are left unpaid till date, pensioners are still groaning while contractors that handled projects in states are in perpetual lamentation.

The Vice- President, Professor Yemi Osinbaj,  who heads the National Economic Council, had in an unmistakable voice declared to states that the loan was repayable at an interest rate of nine per cent over a 20-year period and that  it was “solely for the purpose of paying the backlog of salaries.”

Panic over pay back

As it is today, there is unease across states,   given that the larger portions of budget support loans were frittered into unproductive ventures.  Most states never implemented a single provision of the 22 conditions designed as basis for the loans.

Last week, the Federal Government hinted of its intention to recoup from 35 states, the sum of N614 billion of the loan.

The declaration jolted some governors as many states are still battling to pay the new minimum wage increase.  Majority of states are lock up in a battle with the leadership of labour over     new wage minimum wage.

Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, confirmed government’s intention to recoup the loans while briefing State House Correspondents after the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting presided over by the vice-president.

To fast track the refund process, the minister said NEC had agreed to set up a committee comprising members of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) that will consult with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the ministry of finance to finalise modalities for commencement of the repayment. 

Ahmed said each of the affected 35 states received N17.5 billion as bailout.

The minister of finance briefed NEC on the progress of the facility, detailing how the Federal Government has made a total of over N614 billion available to 35 states being N17.5 billion each.

Way out

The only way out now is for state government to look inward, tap into abundant opportunities for additional revenue sources to augment monthly subvention from federation account.

The Revenue Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) during several interface with the representatives of states presented a robust roadmap on untapped potential lying untapped in each state. There isn’t any better time than now to maximally utilize additional sources of revenue at the disposal of states.

Last line

Loans are contracted on binding agreement. It is, therefore, expedient for the Federal Government to apply the relevant portions of the agreement to recoup the loans from states.

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Rallying Cassava stakeholders for improved yield

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Rallying Cassava stakeholders for improved yield

In continuation of its strategic intervention in select economically viable commodities, CBN rallied cassava stakeholders for a pact aimed at eliminating bottlenecks stifling the commodity’s growth, Abdulwahab Isa reports

 

 

Nigeria is yet to reap one tenth of the economic values embedded in cassava. Like other high yield commodities with economic value that Nigeria accords less attention, cassava remains a potential goldmine for the country.

To change the tide, the Central Bank Nigeria (CBN) is leading a cassava revolution to enable the country earn reasonable income and also create jobs for Nigerians.

CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, is thus rallying stakeholders including  state governors from cassava producing belt, cassava farmers, and  conglomerates using cassava byproducts.

At a meeting between CBN and the stakeholders, including large scale cassava processors, the message at the meeting, which produced  Memorandum of Understanding (MoU),  was primarily conveyed to resuscitate cassava value chain in Nigeria.

Prior to CBN signing MoU with the stakeholders, CBN had included cassava on the forex restriction list.

Untapped potential

Like other commodities of economic potential that are neglected, cassava is one of the economically viable commodities. What is presently derived from it is just one tenth of its untapped full economic value.

At the parley, Emefiele underscored the importance of cassava as an economic commodity.

According to him, “demand for high quality cassava flour in bread, biscuits and snacks is above 500,000tonnes annually while supply  is below 15,000tonnes.  Demand for cassava starch is above 300,000tonnes annually while supply is below 10,000tonnes. Demand for cassava-based constituents in sugar syrup is above 350,000tonnes annually while supply is almost non-existent.

“Potential demand for ethanol in Nigeria as fuel for cooking, power vehicles (E10), and other industrial uses exceeds one billion litres, while production is near zero.  It was on this premise that we included cassava in the FX exclusion list to salvage the industry, encourage farmers to go back to their farms to boost job creation and increase output and improve the capacity utilisation of our processing companies.”

Emefiele noted that the sector had the potential to generate over two million jobs if fully explored.

Tackling bottlenecks

There are obstacles preventing cassava from attaining its economic height. CBN governor noted that without tackling the obstacles, any investment in cassava would amount to economic waste.

He noted that although huge investments were made into the industry during the cassava bread initiative, the industry continues to suffer as a result of low yield varieties, poor farm practices, lack of good quality farm inputs, non-utilisation of available cultivable lands, manual system of production, inadequate funding for small holder out grower schemes and low processing capacity.

“To curtail these challenges and in line with CBNs developmental initiatives, the bank is intervening in the sector through a complete value chain approach. This will involve support to the Nigeria Cassava Growers Association at the production level under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) and support to large scale cassava processors under the CACS and DCRR programmes,” said CBN governor.

To get every stakeholder on board, Emefiele said CBN was collaborating with the private sector, states in cassava producing areas and other stakeholders to join hands towards resuscitating the sector.

“We place a high premium on cassava because the commodity can generally be used for different things along the value chain. The value chain has enormous potential for employing over two million people in Nigeria if well harnessed, due to the diverse secondary products that it offers.

“Some of the products include high quality cassava flour, starch, sugar syrups & sweeteners, chips  for domestic livestock feed and for export to China, ethanol/bio-fuels, high fructose cassava syrup (HFCS), fuel ethanol (E10) as well as animal feed from cassava waste among others,” he told his audience, which included Ekiti State Governor, Dr.Kayode Fayemi, Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), and Deputy Governor of Ogun State and representatives of big conglomerates like Nestlé, Flour Mills, Promasidor, Unilever and cassava farmers.

It was to deal with issues retarding progress of the commodity that informed the bank’s decision to bring all stakeholders together to agree on a framework for modern production and processing.

“This is by ensuring that we identify and tackle all major challenges in the value chain from seedlings production, land clearing, planting, harvesting, processing, marketing and provision of extension services among others,” he added.

Securing buy-in

Transformation envisaged in cassava value chain is not what CBN alone can achieve. All stakeholders, including state governors, cassava farmers and conglomerates using the commodity must come together to achieve it.

As landlords, governors of cassava producing states are required to make land available to unemployed youths to embrace cassava farming and processing.

Reacting, Fayemi, who is also the Chairman, Nigerian Governors’ Forum, thanked Emefiele for spearheading the revolution in strategic key sectors of the economy.

He said: “I am happy that this initiative of dealing with farmers who are the out growers. It’s also dealing with the product itself-improving the yield because the CBN governor spoke to us about working with Umudike and working with IITA in Ibadan. If we expand the land available, what will make this more profitable for our growers is yield. The yield per ethanol is very low; we can increase it if we get the right steps for our farmers and if  we also ensure that we reclaim the land for them by clearing the land by  ensuring we give them support in terms of  security.”

Also, Akeredolu said: “Today looks a fulfilling day for us because we have waited for this time to come. We know that CBN has several interventions and on the issue of cassava we have advantage. We have been talking and I want to thank the governor of CBN. He has accepted to look at the issue of cassava and cocoa too.

“Cassava is what we have come here to discuss today. We have so many growers. In Ondo State today, we have an industry that is almost consuming all the cassava that we have and they are still buying from outside.  So it is important that if we are able to have so many people to grow cassava as we intend to do with these facilities we are talking of.”

On his part, National President Nigeria Cassava Growers Association, Pastor Segun Adewumi, lauded the initiative. He said Nigeria cassava growers were equal to the task save for threat posed by Fulani headers.

He commended Fayemi for making Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) available for 6,000 hecters of land allocated to cassava growers in Ekiti State.

Last line

The quest to revive neglected commodities that are economically viable entails an all-inclusive approach. To redirect cassava to its economic fortune, every single stakeholder connected to it must get on board, charting a new path.

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Border closure: Unravelling local investors’ pains

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Border closure: Unravelling local investors’ pains

Members of the organised private sector (OPS) are worried over report that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) sub-region has started rejecting Nigerian goods, apparently as retaliation against Federal Government’s land border closure policy. Taiwo Hassan reports

 

 

In many fora, private sector groups comprising Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), National Association of Small Industries (NASI), Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) and others have made their positions known to the Federal Government on the partial closure of the country’s borders.

According to them, no matter the gains assumed from the decision, it remains counter-productive to the country’s economy despite the vision by the Federal Government to promote consumption.

It is on record that trade among ECOWAS countries, including Nigeria, has been in existence since the formation of the regional body in 1973, and it has brought economic fortunes to member-states, with different trade treaties meant to foster liberalisation.

However, following poor implementation of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS), not less than 80 per cent of West African countries do not comply with the ECOWAS protocols.

Besides, over 90 per cent of Nigeria’s trade with the West African sub-region is by road. This implies that the border closure has severely affected distribution of goods within the sub-region, culminating in friction among member states.

Economic implications

There is no doubt that the closure of Nigerian land border for a while now has come with benefits and costs; upsides and downsides.

In fact, reports so far show a drastic reduction in smuggling of rice, poultry products and sugar. The smuggling of petroleum products out of the country to neighboring countries has also declined considerably. With this in place, the private sector appreciated these outcomes.

However, it is also important to reckon with the costs to local investors as they have suffered untold losses as a result of the closure.

Corporates, large number of informal sector players and individuals doing legitimate businesses across the borders have become victims of the closure. This poses a dilemma. Government means well, but there are many innocent casualties.

Yes, the country could be celebrating the benefits on one hand, but, there is also need to count the costs, in relation to job losses, skyrocketing prices of goods, halting of legitimate exports to the sub-region, cutting off intermediate products for some manufacturers, as well as delinking of some multinationals companies from their sister companies in the sub-region.

In fact, this has brought about more harm to players involved in the movement of goods via the land border axis.

Rejections

Notwithstanding the revenue increase the Nigerian Customs Service claimed it has generated for the country with the closure, local exporters are also counting their losses as countries within the ECOWAS sub-region have started rejecting Nigerian cargoes, apparently as a form of retaliation against the land border closure.

Latest developments, according to the exporters, indicate that the border closure is gradually crippling their businesses.

Speaking in a chat with newsmen in Lagos, the Chief Executive Officer, Multi-mix Academy, an export oriented institution, Dr. Obiora Madu, disclosed that Nigerian exports within the ECOWAS region was decreasing due to the border closure.

He said: “It is definitely impacting negatively on the economy as the exports done within the ECOWAS region and our neighboring countries are now in decrease. These countries that benefit from the open border, since we have closed it, even though we used to export to them before, you don’t expect to get the level of cooperation that we are getting before because they are hit hard by these closed borders.”

He further admitted that exporting generally is becoming difficult as cargoes are now undergoing careful examinations before leaving the shores of the country. This, he said, had also impacted negatively on the volume and speed of export.

“The fact is that it definitely has impact on volume, it will also impact on speed and it will not be as swift as it used to be because of scrutiny,” he noted.

Revenue losses

Speaking with this newspaper, the LCCI Director-General, Muda Yusuf, explained that the country was losing a lot of money as most of the country’s products have these West African nations as export destinations.

To him, the complete shutdown of cross border trade between Nigeria business and their counterparts in the West sub-region is having grave consequences for investments and jobs.

According to him, many industries have invested in products registered under the ECOWAS ETLS, adding that these are investors whose business models were anchored on market opportunities in the ECOWAS.

He noted that these investments had been completely disrupted and dislocated.

“Majority of the victims of the border closure are small businesses, most of them in the informal sector. Their means of livelihood has been put in great jeopardy. This class of traders does not have the capacity to move their products by sea because of the modest scale of their operations. Supply chain of some business has been completely disrupted.

“Maritime sector investors have been denied opportunities offered by transit cargo destined for landlocked countries which normally comes through the Nigerian ports. The closure has triggered an unprecedented hike in prices with a devastating impact on the poor,” he said.

Why close borders

Indeed, Nigeria became the latest African nation to close its borders, following similar actions by Kenya, Rwanda and Sudan in recent months.

The borders have been closed for various reasons including diplomatic disputes, security concerns, health precautions and economic considerations among others.

The closure, especially by Africa’s biggest economy, Nigeria, is a slap in the face of continent’s integration efforts.

The recently signed African Continental Free Trade Area agreement provides for free movement of goods and persons across African countries.

However, findings have shown that economic gains and trade dominance are the reasons behind the closure of borders in Africa.

Last line

The private sector insisted that the rejection of goods from Nigeria by ECOWAS states will definitely take a large slice dip off the country’s revenue generation and the GDP in general.

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Nigeria’s certified cyber security experts rise to 3,500

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Nigeria’s certified cyber security experts rise to 3,500

…as losses to crime hit N288bn

 

Nigeria’s capacity to fight the surging cybercrime against businesses and government increased in the last year as the number of skilled and certified cyber security experts rose to 3,500 from the initial 2000.

However, while this is the largest in Africa, the country is said to have the lowest in terms of experts per person based on the estimated 190 million population.

According to Africa Cyber Security Report just released by Demadiur Systems Limited, while countries like Kenya and Uganda have 1800 and 400 cyber security experts respectively, with their population of 46.7 million and 38.3 million in that order, they have more experts per person than Nigeria.

This means that Nigerian businesses are more prone to attacks than other businesses in Africa. Already, the shortage of expertise is said to have contributed largely to the rising cases of cybercrimes in the country, leading to a loss of about N288 billion ($800 million) by businesses in 2018.

The losses in that period were incurred mostly by commercial banks, government, and telecommunications operators in the country, according to the report. Before now, the Federal Government had said that the country loses N127 billion annually to cybercrimes.

Presenting the report in Lagos, the Chief Executive Officer, Demadiur, Mr. Ikechukwu Nnamani, said: “In the course of our study, we found out that the country is ill-equipped in terms of cybersecurity experts to address the challenges facing her. This is in spite of the fact that the number of experts in the country has grown from about 2000 to 3,500.”

According to him, with the cost of cybercrime increasing every year across Nigeria, lack of local cyber security skillset is a big challenge to businesses and governments in the country.

“From our analysis, we identified that this skill gap comes from two major sources, few skillset in the nation and the inability of companies to have a cyber security team and strategy. With the number of SMEs and large organisations in the country facing cyber security threats compared to the 3500 certified security professionals in Nigeria, it is clear that Nigerian businesses are easy targets for both local and international hackers,” he said.

With the low-security expertise, Nnamani said the study conducted in Nigeria also revealed that more Nigerians were going into cybercrimes as attacks from the country have increased.

“We found out that locally engineered malware experts on the rise, which indicates that more Nigerians are going into the crime.

“In 2016, there was one cyber security expert for every 124,587 Nigerians, while this marginally improved to one expert for every 106,048 Nigerians in 2017; in 2018, it abysmally stood at one expert for every 103,093 citizens. There is a need to have people well trained in that space and also to have a certification process to ensure that the right skill needed is acquired,” he said.

Nnamani, however, noted that the country had improved in terms of awareness about cyber security.

“We noticed that there is now more awareness, compared to previous years; management and boards are beginning to take cyber security more seriously. We also noticed that the number of successful prosecution has gone up,” he said.

The Demadiur CEO added that banks had also increased their investments in cybersecurity in recent years, but noted that there was still a high level of ignorance about cyber security among SMEs in the country.

Speaking on the report, the Chief Executive Officer, Cyber Security Experts Association of Nigeria, Mr. Remi Afon, said Nigeria had a Cyber Security Strategy and National Cyber Security Policy, which were published in 2014 to drive the fight against cybercrimes. He, however, lamented that the policies have remained mere documents.

“The documents cover vast areas of cyber security domain, which if implemented would have strategically positioned Nigeria in a good place in terms of managing and mitigating cyber security threats we face as a nation. Unfortunately, the strategy and policy documents have remained electronic documents, which not only need to be reviewed five years on but also deserve proper implementation,” he said.

Afon added that while private businesses were trying their best to employ cyber security experts, the Nigerian government had remained non-committal to cyber security.

“Except for a few government agencies that have a functioning cyber security department, most government agencies do not have any department set aside for cyber security function. So, clearly, they lack information security professionals and rely on the IT department to carry out all their information security-related duties,” he said.

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Telcos connect 4.7m broadband users in one month

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Telcos connect 4.7m broadband users in one month

Nigeria’s broadband penetration recorded a huge leap in October as telecommunications operators added 4.7 million new customers.

This brought the total number of broadband users in the country to 72.2 million from 67.5 million recorded in September.

According to the latest industry statistics released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the country’s broadband penetration stood at 37.8 per cent as of October 2019.

The growth may not be unconnected with the telecoms operators’ aggressive push for deployment of 4G service across the country.

Broadband, in Nigeria context and as defined by the country’s National Broadband Plan (NBP 2013-2018), refers to internet access with a minimum speed of 1.5 megabits per second (Mbps).

While the number of Nigerians with 2G and 3G internet access has been on the increase, broadband growth has been limited as it requires the operators to deploy more infrastructures across the country.

According to a World Bank study, a 10 percentage point increase in fixed broadband penetration will increase GDP growth by 1.21 percent in developed economies and 1.38 percent in developing ones.

While the country exceeded the target of 30 per cent penetration by December 2018 as set in the NBP 2013-2018, stakeholders have been clamouring for a new plan to give the next direction for the industry.

However, in the absence of a new policy from the government, the operators said they were targeting 70 per cent broadband penetration by 2023 through the rapid deployment of 4G infrastructure.

To increase the penetration level, NCC said it was focusing on ensuring that all new base stations to be built by the mobile network operators (MNOs) were 4G-compatible.

According to the commission, 56.4 per cent of the country’s population is on 3G, while some are still on 2G.

However, while highlighting efforts to deepen broadband penetration at a forum in Lagos, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Prof Umar Danbatta, said the commission had been encouraging the operators to upgrade their 2G base transceiver stations (BTSs) to 3G while ensuring that their new sites are 4G.

“Through effective regulatory oversight, which the Commission is known for, we are ensuring that all new sites to be built by the mobile network operators (MNOs) are Long Term Evolution (LTE)-compatible. We also strive to ensure the implementation of harmonised Right of Way (RoW) charges on state and Federal Government highways at the cost of N145 per linear meter to encourage faster rollout of telecoms infrastructure.

“We are also working with relevant stakeholders to ensure the elimination of multiple taxation and regulations; encourage the spread of 3G coverage to, at least 80 percent of the Nigerian population over the current 56.4 percent of the population covered with 3G networks,” the EVC said.

He added that the commission was also ensuring that there is efficient allocation of spectrum resources through re-planning and opening up of some spectrum bands as well as development of framework for the utilisation of unused broadcast spectrum known as television white space (TVWS) for the provision of affordable broadband services in the rural, underserved and unserved areas of the country.

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SMEs: FG urged to float N1trn investment fund

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SMEs: FG urged to float N1trn investment fund

former Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and a presidential candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) in the last election, Professor Kingsley Moghalu, has urged the Federal Government to float a N1 trillion venture capital fund under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement for Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SMEs).

This, he said, would urgently address the spiraling rise in unemployment in the country.

Moghalu, in an interview with this newspaper in Lagos, explained that the current administration under President Muhammadu Buhari must find a lasting solution to the stifling credit to local SMEs in the country, which is severely taking a toll on their bottom line and profits.

According to him, it is time the Federal Government created a N1 trillion venture capital funding to enable SMEs get access to capital to boost their businesses, adding that paucity of fund was killing SMEs businesses in Nigeria.

Also, he noted that high interest rate from Nigerian banks was preventing SMEs from approaching banks to borrow money to improve their businesses.

The former CBN chieftain admitted that availability of fund and access to credit to SMEs would help tackle the spiraling rise in unemployment in the country.

He emphasised that the N1trillion venture capital fund was the catalyst to fully enable the SMEs realise their objectives as the bedrock of Nigerian economy.

To him, the scheme is obtainable in many advanced countries of the world, including the United States, South Africa, United Kingdom and Asia giants; and Nigeria cannot be an exception to this since this scheme has been a success story in other business climes around the globe.

He said: “We need to create a N1 trillion venture capital fund. It will be a Public Private Partnership. It is going to be more useful than the Social Intervention Programme (SIP) of the present administration. The reason for the intention of the SIP is to empower traders with money, it is not sustainable and we all know that. They are recycling poverty.

“What will need is to create wealth for SMEs in this country. And how you create wealth, you create access to finance for SMEs, for young people who are jobless; you have to create access to capital for them.

“The problem I have about Nigeria is that a lot of our approach about capital is about credit, and credit is expensive in this country. So we need to move to equity. That is equity investment.”

“So this fund, how will it operate, very briefly, this fund will invest in technology innovation, product innovation, and it will help take them to the market, it will give start up to scientists and young people who have good ideas, which they can pitch like the International Breweries kick-start initiative.

“We need to have this fund and to invest in equity and the PPP will be co-owner of the business and we will set up modalities on how to manage the part of the corporate governance of the business, whether it is access to funds or it is going to be a direct funding, that is a matter of government to decide. But we need a venture capital funding in Nigeria.

“Why? Because in South Africa and many other countries of the world, including Asia, most of the jobs are created by the private sector that created the venture capital. When you start a new business with a support from this fund, you may start on your own but after a while, you have six or 10 employees, also after a while, you have 12 or 20 employees, if you replicate this in hundreds of thousands, millions of jobs will be created through the scheme, this is the truth. So you must have a policy that targets that youth segment of our population and address their problems.”

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Firm to train SMEs on internet businesses

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Firm to train SMEs on internet businesses

Web hosting giant, Whogohost, has said it will sponsor the ‘Make Money Online’ SME Clinic at the Computer Village Expo 2019, where there will be discussions on ways their products could help businesses make money online.

Computer Village Expo 2019 themed, “A New Partnership Agenda for Growth,” is the annual flagship integrated events platform connecting 10,000+ Technology SMEs from Nigeria’s largest technology market, Ikeja Computer Village, and consumer technology buyers across Nigeria, Africa and beyond.

Whogohost, in a statement, said it had always been keen on helping SMEs and tech enthusiasts grow in Nigeria and it saw the SME Clinic at the Computer Village Expo 2019 as an opportunity to establish a new relationship with SME owners and entrepreneurs.

“During Make Money Online SME Clinic, Whogohost will be sharing insights on how SMEs in Ikeja Computer Village and other participants can expand their reach online which will help them grow their customer base and eventually revenue. We will also offer our diverse range of value offerings to prospective partners, showing off ways that they can make money as resellers,” the statement read.

As a sponsor of the SME Clinic, Whogohost said it hoped to help small and medium enterprises get their businesses online.

“We operate with the goal of enabling Nigerian SMEs grow online effectively with very minimal financial investment through the deployment of beautiful, functional and mobile-friendly websites which are hosted on their web hosting infrastructure providing small businesses in Nigeria with a cost-effective way of expanding their brand awareness and sales revenue through their native online platforms,” the company said.

Having launched an online campaign tagged ‘#TakeItOnline’ in 2018 & 2019, Whogohost said it had achieved several engagements with so many business owners signing up to have their websites designed, built and hosted.

Commenting on the success of the campaign, WhoGoHost’s CEO, Toba Obaniyi, said that: “#TakeItOnline is a labour of love that we created out of a desire to help businesses grow in Nigeria. Having experienced the benefits of running an online business, we realised that most businesses in Nigeria are still in the dark regarding benefits that owning a website guarantees their business.

With #TakeItOnline, there is no longer any reason for SMEs to be left behind in this rapidly changing world of commerce.”

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Forum advocates tech-driven govt data management

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The National Information Management Stakeholders Forum (NIMSF) has urged the Federal Government to deploy technology tools for efficient management of data across ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs).

The institute said this became imperative because of growing threats against information and data brought about by digital era.

The President, Institute of Information Management Africa (IIM), who is also the leader of the forum, Dr. Oyedokun Ayodeji , while making the call in Lagos, noted that government and a good number of organisations in the country were yet to regard data and information as essential corporate assets, with a clear understanding of the difference between information technology and information management.

“We are in exciting times with data and technology at the heart of many major transformational initiatives and policies, in both public and private organisations.  The pace of change and the challenges of the digital era mean we are not only seeing new opportunities but also facing new risks. Strong leadership, governance, and professionalism in data, information, records, contents and knowledge management will be key, both to seizing opportunities and meeting the challenges ahead,” he said.

Ayodeji, therefore, called for the restructuring and repositioning of the Ministry of Culture and Information to cater to the effective management of government data.

He said forum believed the time is ripe for the establishment of the information management development agency so as to ensure a good data and information governance regime in the country.

He said such an agency to be established should work with other relevant government agencies in ensuring appropriate information management and technology tools are deployed at all government MDAs for effective information security and governance.

“The National Information Management Stakeholders’ Forum would like to recommend the need for the Ministry of Information and Culture to be transformed and repositioned to enable it to take its rightful position as it concerns data, information, records, archives, and contents management in Nigeria.

“A possible separation of the ministry from culture and the ultimate establishment of a relevant agency national information management development agency, which will be tasked with managing the information lifecycle of data, information, documents, contents and archives generated by all government agencies, ensuring enabling standards, specifications, processes, laws, and policies are in place for a good data and information governance regime in the country,” he noted.

He added that there was need for the industry to effectively and consistently engage the Ministry of Information and Culture, as effective data and information governance will go a long way in ensuring the success of the initiative for an effective national digital economy policy implementation.

He noted that there was also need for information management professionals in the industry charged with managing the information lifecycle to evolve and assume their rightful position, as information management is grossly misconceived in Nigeria.

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Business

Company launches electronic logistics service

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Funnel Logistics Technologies Limited has launched its electronic courier aggregation platform known as “Funnel.”

The platform is an electronic facilitator for efficient and seamless request/fulfillment of deliveries through the best courier operators across Nigeria.

Speaking at the launch, the Chief Executive Officer at Funnel Logistics Technologies Ltd, Mr. Tunde Oloyede, said: “We are excited to be launching this pioneer service in Nigeria. The Funnel platform provides innovative solutions to ease Nigerians’ everyday last-mile logistics pain points. At Funnel, our mission is to be the primary electronic facilitator for efficient request/fulfillment of deliveries across Africa.”

Oloyede further explained that users on the Funnel platform had a range of courier service providers to choose from.

He said: “We have partnered with the most reliable courier companies (DHL, FedEx, Smartpost, Rapid, EMS, and many others), and negotiated highly discounted rates with them, to ensure that our users get the best value for their money.

“A critical bit of our model is to provide as many easy to use tools as possible (apps, plugins, APIs) that offer our potential users and clientele efficient and seamless access to delivery services from our courier partners. So, logistics is made easy for both the customer who is requesting a service and the services provider.”

The Funnel technology platform brings together customers in need of courier services and a diverse range of courier service operators at very competitive rates. Subscribers on the Funnel platform can request to have their parcels picked-up and delivered by their preferred courier services at highly discounted rates.

Specifically, the platform can be used by retailers, e-commerce platforms and their customers. Also, social media retailers can initiate delivery requests from within their chats with customers; and customers of e-Commerce platforms can now choose and pay for their preferred delivery service during checkout.

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Business

Firm partners others to penetrate Nigerian construction sector

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dvanced Concrete Technologies (ACT) has partnered a German firm,   Schomburg Construction Chemical Group and Costar Building Products of the United States to penetrate Nigerian construction industry with their wide range of building materials for housing projects.

Already, ACT has secured the franchise of the firms as critical ingredients necessary to drive its vision of ensuring quality constructions in Nigeria.

The Managing Partner of the company, Anthony Ajulo, noted that the Schomburg Group was represented in more than 70 countries worldwide, while Costar Building Product system, founded decades ago, had been producing innovative construction chemicals that improve and increase the life span of modern buildings.

He explained to some building contractors, architects, consultants, engineers, quantity surveyors, construction companies and builders in Lagos recently that the chemical solutions produced by the firms would end building collapse in the country’s construction industry.

The managing director listed the chemical solution to include construction chemicals, waterproofing solutions, sealants and adhesives, insulations, concrete décor and flooring systems.

As a respected leader in the construction chemicals and waterproofing product systems, the managing director stressed that ACT had over the past decade delivered land mark projects which had created long term progress and economic impact.

He said: “ACT supplies construction chemicals & waterproofing solutions for Readymix concrete producers across Sub-Saharan Africa, all backed by technologically superior service and on-site support.

Ajulo explained in Lagos that the chemical solutions had over the past decade, achieved landmark projects that created long-term progress and economic impacts in the world.

He noted that company’s   new range of affordable construction solutions to industry operators would tackle incessant building collapse in the country.

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ICT / e-World

Vivo: Innovation is key to our success

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Smartphone maker, Vivo, has said it would continue to innovate to keep the brand at the heart of its customers. The company said its commitment in this regard has positioned Vivo in the minds of its customers as a company that has been consistent and innovative with its smartphone offerings.

Since its global debut in 2009, Vivo has produced and shipped well over 10 million smartphone devices around the world with each device boasting of a unique offering unrivalled by its closest competitor in the market.

Speaking on the company’s innovation journey, Vivo’s Head of PR, Chloe Wang, said the brand’s V7 and V7plus devices launched at the Mobile World Congress, were the first smartphones to spot an elevating 24MP front camera from APEX™. “Not stopping at that, vivo upgraded its V15 Pro from the 24MP to 32MP Elevating Front Camera.

“In January 2018, vivo received a global acclaim for introducing the first In-Display Fingerprint sensor with its X21 and the feat came at a time when the industry standard was having a fingerprint sensor either at the rear of the device or on the home button. Just recently, Vivo introduced yet another amazing feature with its latest device – the V17 Pro.

“This innovative device houses a total of six cameras made up of the first ever Dual Pop Up Front Camera and a 60MP AI Quad Rear Camera. The Dual Pop Up Front Camera also has the Selfie Softlight which helps to capture clear pictures in lowlight environments while the rear camera has a combination of lenses including the macro that helps capture every exquisite detail of close up shots. This camera also has a Pose™ Master which interestingly, suggests poses for users when taking photos,” he said.

Asides pioneering smartphone advancement, Vivo also shows interest in activities aimed at creating an extraordinary life for its youthful consumers.

From its involvement as a sponsor at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia to its partnership with PUBG Games Mobile as its official smartphone sponsor amongst many others, it has become evident that vivo knows how and where to connect with its teeming fans.

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