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Dow Jones names Coca-Cola most sustainable beverage company

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global benchmark for sustainability in business, the 2019 Dow Jones Sustainability Index, has rated Coca-Cola HBC as Europe’s most sustainable beverage company.

This is the 6th time in seven years that the company has been ranked number one in the index and the 9th year in a row that it has been ranked in the top three Global and European beverage companies.

According to a statement signed by Ekuma Eze, Public Affairs and Communications Director, Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) Limited, the breakdown for this new rating, CCHBC was adjudged to have scored 100 per cent in 11 categories while the company secured 90 per cent in nine other categories, with the cumulative points placing it in second position in global ranking.

Speaking on the achievement by the company, Chief Executive Officer, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company, Zoran Bogdanovic, stated that the company was proud for the recognition accorded it, saying that the employees and partners remain committed to delivering on its sustainability goal.

“We are honoured and proud that the commitment of our employees and partners to sustainable practices has again resulted in this recognition. We are well aware though that this is just a snapshot.  In reality, the work never stops and there is always more to be done.  That’s why we put so much focus on the consistent, long-term delivery of our sustainability goals,” Bogdanovic said.

While reeling out some of the company’s sustainability highlights in 2018, he identified them to include reduction of carbon emissions in the business value chain by 25 per cent, employee engagement score of 88 per cent, 37 per cent gyincrease in number of women in management roles, huge contribution of taxes to local economies, huge investment in community projects, 22 per cent reduction of water usage in production, among others.

“We achieved our science-based commitment to reduce carbon emissions in our value chain by 25 per cent (compared with 2010), two years ahead of the 2020 target date. In other words, we have saved 1.27 million tonnes of carbon emissions.

“We have also achieved an employee engagement score of 88 per cent, above the average of FTSE 100 companies. In Addition, we have successfully recovered the equivalent of 45 per cent of the total primary packaging we placed in the market for recycling,” he noted.

Bogdanovic noted that the company remains committed to achieving its sustainability goals stating that 2025 sustainability commitments launched recently would address key areas that include emissions reduction; water use and stewardship; World Without Waste; ingredients sourcing; nutrition; and our people and communities.

Over the years, Coca-Cola HBC’s sustainability performance has been recognized by other respected industry rankings, such as the CDP Climate Disclosure, the MSCI ESG Rating and the FTSE4Good Index.

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SEC: New products’ll boost capital market

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SEC: New products’ll boost capital market

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has said that beyond the conventional capital market products of equities and bonds as well as manual regulatory processes, the players and regulators are introducing new and innovative processes and products.

The Acting Director General of SEC, Ms. Mary Uduk, stated this yesterday during an excursion visit by students of Aduvie Pre University College, Modibbo Adama University, Yola, and University of Abuja to the commission.

Uduk said capital markets across the world had products and mechanisms to stimulate economic growth and development.

Although many of such products are available in Nigeria, there are aspects that are still untapped, thereby limiting the realisation of its potential.

She said it was for this reason that some of the processes of the SEC that were previously manual and inefficient are now being automated to make the market more attractive to investors.

“For instance, with the dematerialisation process completed, investors no longer need to worry about the loss or damage to their physical share certificates as they are now electronically stored.

“Further, the current e-Dividend system enables shareholders’ dividend to be paid directly into their bank accounts without the stress of dealing with physical dividend warrants. Also, the Direct Cash Settlement protects investors from funds mismanagement by ensuring that the proceeds of their shares sales are credited directly into their own account as against that of the stockbroker.

“We are equally working on ensuring that companies’ annual reports are distributed electronically thereby ensuring timeliness of information to shareholders and cost reduction to public companies,” she stated.

The acting DG told the students that through the Commodities Trading Implementation Committee, the Commission has engaged the Standards Organisations of Nigeria to publicise the relevant standards issued for agricultural products, while warehouses have also been mapped to provide information on its availability and location.

She stated that SEC was working towards a future where the capital market would be used to solve challenges of misprizing and non-standardization of commodity products, as well as low foreign exchange earnings bedeviling the country’s agricultural sector.

The acting DG also disclosed that SEC had helped in coordinating the introduction of Capital Market Studies into curriculum of basic and senior secondary schools in Nigeria and further plans are ahead to do same for higher institutions.

“Literacy plays a significant role in financial inclusion, which itself is a major component of economic development. Financial literacy and inclusion help people become financially independent and economically self-sufficient by aiding the underserved population, while raising their productivity and incomes,” she added.

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U.S. stocks stabilise amid impeachment drama

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U.S. stocks stabilise amid impeachment drama

U.S. stocks rose as renewed signs of easing trade tensions diverted attention from the swirling impeachment drama in Washington. The dollar rallied.

According to Bloomberg, the S&P 500 halted a three-day slide, with tech and bank shares pacing the gain. Equities rattled by the political turmoil in America turned higher after President Donald Trump suggested a trade deal with China was possible and moved toward a pact with Japan. The advance recouped about a quarter of the Tuesday sell-off sparked by the start of a formal impeachment inquiry of Trump.

“Markets are way more interested in a trade deal with China,” Jamie Cox, managing partner for Harris Financial Group in Richmond, VA. “Now that the Congress is deadlocked into impeachment, the president can close a deal with China to boost the global economy into 2020, just in time for ballots to be cast.”

In company news, Philip Morris and Altria both advanced after ending merger talks, while Marathon surged on activist intervention. Nike Inc. rose to a record after strong results. Financials paced gains as Treasury yields turned higher.

The impeachment push added a fresh element of risk into markets already on edge over trade and signs of slowing global growth. Trade has reliably been the biggest determinant of asset moves, and Trump’s conciliatory comments toward China helped ease some angst over the political upheaval.

“You can’t trade this stuff right now, it’s impossible,” Michael Purves, chief executive officer at Tallbacken Capital Advisors LLC, said on Bloomberg TV Wednesday. “There’s so many different scenarios, you almost have to ignore it and keep investing the way you would.”

In Europe, the mood was more dour. Equities slumped amid rising concern that growth is flagging. U.K. shares fell as parliament reconvened amid Brexit turmoil. Asian benchmarks retreated, with losses of more than 1 per cent in Hong Kong, South Korea, mainland China and India. Crude futures declined after Saudi Aramco said it was ahead of schedule in restoring output.

The S&P 500 Index rose 0.3 per cent  in New York. The Nasdaq 100 Index added 0.5 per cent. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index sank 0.6 per cent. Switzerland’s SMI Index sank 1.2 per cent. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index sank 0.7 per cent.

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NSE: Stocks fall for third consecutive day, lose N33bn

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NSE: Stocks fall for third consecutive day, lose N33bn

The Nigerian equity market yesterday tumbled for the third consecutive trading day as sell pressure was unabated, producing 13 losers against 15 gainers.

Key market indicators, the NSE ASI, declined by 0.25 per cent as bargain hunters remained on the sideline following growing investment apathy.

Consequently, the All-Share Index dipped 69.19 basis points or 0.25 per cent to close at 27,283.05 as against 27.352.24 recorded the previous day while the market capitalisation of equities depreciated by N33 billion or 0.25 per cent to close at N13.281 trillion from N13.314 trillion.

Meanwhile, a turnover of 462.3 million shares exchanged in 2,895 deals was recorded in the day’s trading.

The premium sub-sector was the most active during the day (measured by turnover volume); with 191.8 million shares exchanged by investors in 1,236 deals.

Volume in the sub-sector was largely driven by activities in the shares of Access Bank Plc and Zenith Bank Plc.

The banking sub-sector, boosted by activities in the shares of Union Bank Plc and GTB Plc, followed with a turnover of 46.9 million shares traded in 334 deals.

Shares of Continental Reinsurance Plc led the gainers chart, appreciating by 9.55 per cent to close at N1.72 per share.

Cornerstone Insurance Plc  and Custodian Investment Plc followed with a gain of 7. 69 per cent each to close at 42 kobo and N5.85 per share respectively while Access Bank Plc gained 5.11 per cent to close at N7.20 per share.

On the flip side, shares of Skyway Aviation Company Plc led the losers with a loss of 9.89 per cent to close at N4.19 per share.

NPF MFB Plc plunged 9.84 per cent to close at N1.10 per share while UAC Property Plc dropped 9.38 per cent to close at N1.16 per share.

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Ending Nigeria’s SIM registration fiasco

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Ending Nigeria’s SIM registration fiasco

After eight years of enforcement of SIM registration in Nigeria, there were still a total of 9.2 million pre-registered or improperly registered SIMs in the country as at the first week of september 2019. While the figure was said to have reduced to 2.4 million within one week after the Communications Minister’s intervention, it shows that a lot still needs to be done in terms of enforcement to sanitise the country’s database. SAMSON AKINTARO reports

 

If the recent order by the Minister of Communications, Dr Isa Pantami, were anything to go by, from yesterday, September 25, all improperly registered Subscribers Identity Module (SIMs) must have been disconnected from the networks.

This would mean that the over 170 million actively connected mobile lines are now properly registered and each line can be traced to persons with proper identity and locatable addresses.

However, going by events of the past, it may not be surprising after some months to have fresh figures of pre-registered or improperly registered SIMs in the country.

After the 2015 landmark fine against MTN for failing to deactivate 5.2 million unregistered SIMs, it was expected that all the operators would sit tight and take the registration exercise as a matter of priority.

That, unfortunately, has not been the situation. Indeed, in recent times, there have been several reports of arrests of persons believed to be agents of the telecoms operators for selling pre-registered SIMS.

Worrying report

Before now, many had expressed worries that incidences of kidnapping remained unabated in the country and perpetrators freely used mobile lines to contact families of their victims without being traced thereafter.

Recent report of audit conducted by Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) revealed why this has been so.

According to a statement released earlier this month by the spokesperson to Minister of Communications, Uwa Suleiman, NCC had submitted its baseline short-term performance targets report to the minister on assumption of office. 

“The report signed by the Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission contained precise figures of improperly registered SIM cards in use around the country.

“The commission in its report disclosed that an estimated nine million two hundred thousand (9.2m) SIM cards did not comply with the proper procedures of SIM registration.

“ The investigation, which was carried out at the behest of the minister, has exposed for the first time in the Telecoms history of Nigeria, in precise detail, the magnitude of defaulters,” the statement read.

Reacting to the report, the minister was said to have expressed concern over the security implication of this discovery and further directed that the telecoms regulator, should with immediate effect, ensure that all improperly registered numbers are duly reregistered.

A week later, the figure of improperly registered SIMs was said to have reduced from 9.2 million to 2.4 million within one week, indicating that 6.8 million subscribers had regularised their registration within the period.

“As at last week, we had 9.2 Million pre-registered or partially registered SIM Cards in Nigeria, based on the directives I gave to NCC, I am pleased to inform you that as at today, the figure has dropped to 2.4 Million,” the minister had told the media at the inauguration of NCC’s Governing Board in Abuja.

“I have further directed NCC to ensure that by 25th September 2019, no pre-registered or partially registered SIM Cards are in circulation,” Pantami added.

Security concerns

Besides helping to keep a proper record of all subscribers, a credible database of all telephone users in a country is seen as essential tool for national security.

With a reliable database, experts believe many criminal activities can be checked, for instance, incidences of kidnappings, armed robberies, financial fraud, cyber crimes, and other vices would be easily traced on the telephone network by identifying the perpetrators.

Suffice to note that the heavy fine slammed on MTN in 2015 for non-compliance was allegedly instigated by the kidnap of a prominent former Nigerian leader and the discovery that the kidnappers were using unregistered lines to contact the family of the victim for ransom.

In that regard, the recent discovery that there are still millions of SIMs registered without proper identification of the owner raised security concern and painted the picture of a hopeless situation with the current spate of kidnappings and insecurity across the country.

The journey

NCC in 2010, introduced SIM card registration across all networks and gave the operators six months to complete the exercise, but operators were unable to meet the six months deadline, a situation that compelled NCC to seek federal government’s approval of N6.1 billion to enable the commission carry out the registration exercise by itself and complete it within a period of six months.

NCC got the approval and it commenced another round of SIM card registration in March 2011, and recruited seven consultants and tasked them with the responsibility of carrying out and completing the SIM card registration exercise in the six geopolitical zones within the timeframe. They were to complete the exercise on September 30, 2011.

While NCC consultants were involved in SIM card registration, NCC also allowed all telecoms operators to continue in their capacities with the same SIM card registration.

The September 30, 2011 date, which NCC gave as the deadline for the completion of the exercise was not feasible, as the commission’s consultants could not conclude the exercise at the stipulated date, a situation that compelled NCC to extend the exercise indefinitely.

A few days to the September 30, 2011 deadline, the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators (ALTON), led by its Chairman, Mr.Gbenga Adebayo, called for a six-month extension of the exercise, while the National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOMS), led by its President, Mr.Deolu Ogunbanjo, had also called for a 12-month extension.

The reason they gave was that half of the total number of subscribers as at then were yet to be registered, and warned that the purpose of the exercise would not be achieved, should NCC close registration by September 30th 2011.

Sensing the danger of closing SIM registration with half of the population of subscribers, NCC came up with a position that it has extended the exercise, but did not give the timeframe for the extension.

In April 2013, NCC came up with a fresh date to end SIM registration by June 30, 2013 and warned that all unregistered SIM cards would be disconnected after the June 30 date.

By 2015, MTN was sanctioned for not disconnecting millions of unregistered lines. But that did not stop the sales of pre-registered lines across the country as many were being arrested for this practice only on daily basis.

Last line

While hoping that the remaining 2.4 million improperly registered SIMs will be disconnected as ordered by the minister, if not yet disconnected, NCC must henceforth come hard on any operator who allows such SIM to be active on its network again.

There is need to take stringent measures to stop the current dance around the circle about improperly registered SIMs in the country.

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Expert to SMEs: Explore digital banking for production hitches

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Expert to SMEs: Explore digital banking for production hitches

In a bid to address local manufacturers’ 30 per cent overhead cost spending on marketing and logistics, an expert has advised Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SMEs) to take full advantages of digital banking tools to solving their production challenges.

Group Head, Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCGs) of UBA, Chike Isiowe, made this call at the maiden edition of the manufacturers’ distribution and supply chain summit in Lagos.

He said banks were always willing and  committed to supporting manufacturers and SMEs in all critical areas that will boost their production and market access so as to grow business.

Isiowe explained that it was saddening to see that in addition to overhead cost, marketing and logistics costs contribute more than 30 per cent of the expenditure of an average manufacturer.

He said that taking advantages of the country’s digital banking platforms by the local manufacturers would help them solve the critical needs being experienced in areas of distribution, logistics and supply chain management within and outside the shores of the country.

According to him, it is very critical for manufacturing companies to produce efficiently, saying that efficiency in production can only be achieved when they have very efficient, logistics and support services.

The UBA head of FMCGs pointed out that it was time for manufacturers and SMEs to approach Nigerian banks in addressing their production challenges since the banks already have platforms to support them financially and also manage their businesses prudently so as to achieve the desired result in prompt cash flow.

“For us as a bank, we are always on ground to support Nigerian businesses to reach out to market across Africa and global market as well. Part of what we extend as support to our customers is to enable them reach out their market to the 20 African countries where we are present as a bank.

“We are the only Nigerian bank today that equally have branches in New York, USA, London, United Kingdom and Paris, France all of these are put together to ensure that we support the growth and aspirations of Nigerian manufacturers.

“I do understand that the whole engagement of today is centered round distribution, supply chain management and logistics. It is important that as a manufacturing company you are able to produce efficiently and that can only come when you have very efficient, logistics and support services. On the distribution side, is for you to be able to reach out to the market where you are producing your goods.

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AfCFTA: OPS seeks SON’s return to seaports

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AfCFTA: OPS seeks SON’s return to seaports

Following a recent meeting between the Director-General of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Osita Aboloma and Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Richard Adebayo, in Abuja on the implication of inflow of substandard goods into Nigeria, members of the organised private sector (OPS) have advised that SON be allowed back to the country’s seaports. Taiwo Hassan reports

 

Indeed, AfCFTA has come to stay in Africa with Nigeria being expected to play a crucial role in driving the continent’s trade agreement based on her enormous population and market access for trading.

With this in place, it means that all eyes will be on Nigerian market as it is expected to be the hub of other countries’ goods in the continent.

However, it is saddening to note that already the country’s ports have been classified among the worst ports in the world following influx of substandard products, and this menace seems to be rising on a daily basis.

The refusal of Nigeria to sign into AfCFTA in the past was linked to fears of becoming a dumping ground for the fact that even the Nigerian agencies led by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has all compromised in their responsibilities.

With this in perspective, some private sector operators have been agitating that it is time for SON to be recalled to the ports to forestall illicit and substandard goods flooding the country.

     

LCCI’s stance

Speaking with this newspaper in Lagos recently, the Director-General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Muda Yusuf, explained that it was very timely and apt for SON to stage a comeback to the country’s seaports because of the AfCFTA agreement.   

He said that SON would be very strategic in helping the country to tame and reduce substandard goods in circulation since it has the facility to monitor import from their point of origin before getting into the Nigeria.

SON’s u-turn

The director general of  SON had earlier renewed the organisation’s desire to berth and operate within the ports.

He emphasising that the minister must ensure that personnel of SON get approval to return to the nation’s seaports following the new trade agreement.

Aboloma noted that 80 per cent of goods and products entering Nigeria came in through the seaports and if it continues without proper check, it could destroy the country’s economy.

The SON director general also requested a quick response to the draft National Quality Policy to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for consideration and approval, adding that the step would serve as the necessary guide to the development and implementation of the National Quality Infrastructure (NIQ) Project of the government.

He also urged the minister to direct the agencies under the ministry to patronise the internationally accredited SON Management System Certification (MSC) services, which he described as one of the best in Africa.

In a similar development, SON Director of Inspection and Compliance Directorate, Obiora Manafa, explained that the agency had the capacity to reduce the importation of substandard products by 75 per cent in one calendar year if permitted to stay at the ports.

He alluded to the fact that it was the only way substandard products could be eliminated from circulation.

Manafa spoke against the backdrop that SON’s non invitation to partake in cargo examination at the port was stalling its potential.

Industry minister’s comment

In his response, Adebayo reiterated Federal Government’s commitment to support SON so as to minimise the influx of substandard products in the country.

According to him, his ministry and the FEC will look into the matter again following the continental free trade agreement and give appropriate decision on it.

“We are looking at it in the moment if it will be ideal for SON to come back to the ports on goods clearing following our signing into the continental free trade agreement.

“We will give you definite answer soon but we are considering it,” Adebayo said.

He, however, said that ongoing efforts of SON to rid Nigerian market of fake and substandard products required more support from the Federal Government.

Adebayo said that Nigeria with its strategic economic location in Africa coupled with its large trade and investment potential naturally opened it to the influx of various products.

He said that the Federal Government would give priority to SON and other relevant agencies to check importation of substandard products especially in the construction industry.

Genesis

In 2012, the Federal Government, through the Presidential Committee on Port Decongestion, headed by their Finance Minister and Coordinator of the Nigerian Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, approved the ousting of some federal agencies from the seaports.

The agencies include SON, National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Quarantine Service among others.

For a while now, the Presidency had insisted that SON, NAFDAC and others remained ban at the nation’s seaports.

The Presidency had only allowed the Nigerian Ports Authority, National Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, the Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Police, State Security Service, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Nigerian Immigration Service and the Port Health Authority as the government agencies that are allowed to operate in any form within the ports.

A Presidency statement to that effect said: “All other bodies can now only enter the ports and operate in them on the basis of specific invitation and as the need arises. The position will remain unchanged unless and until the president directs otherwise.”

Last line

For the OPS, allowing SON back to the ports makes sense, but there are fears over the agency’s draconian attitude, which could further worsen the existing port operations since all government agencies are the same.

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LCCI: $2.5bn fresh loan’ll hurt Nigeria’s economy

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LCCI: $2.5bn fresh loan’ll hurt Nigeria’s economy

With information emanating from the World Bank that it was in talks with Nigeria for a fresh loan of $2.5 billion, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has raised the alarm that it will further bleed the economy, hike cost of debt servicing and stifle developmental projects.

LCCI Director-General, Muda Yusuf, in an interview with this newspaper in Lagos, explained that a fresh debt would be colossal for the country’s fragile economy, warning that government could end up using 50 per cent of next year’s budget for debt servicing.

He also fears that another foreign loan could lead to high inflation rate, stunt gross domestic product growth and increase unemployment.

According to him, the private sector is concerned with the severe economic implication the country will face following the World Bank’s statement.

Yusuf stated that with the additional loan in the pipeline, the country’s foreign debt would increase and invariably increase the overall debt portfolio of the country, which stood at N24.9 trillion as at March 2019 compared to N24.39 trillion as at December 31, 2018, according to the Debt Management Office (DMO).

The director-general stated that already, the Federal Government had proposed to spend a total of N2.14 trillion on debt servicing in the 2019 fiscal year, which is 27 per cent of revenue.

The LCCI boss explained that foreign loans were the reasons government cannot channel more funds appropriately to developmental projects in the country since huge amounts are always provided for servicing debts.

He, however, stated that the private sector was expecting government to cut down its debt and seek other ways of raising funds, by rigorously promoting new investments to increase revenue.

Particularly, he believes that cost of governance in the country is still too high and should be reduced in order to free more revenue to run the country’s economy.

According to him, “with the World Bank saying it is in talks with Nigeria for a fresh loan of $2.5 billion, which coincided with the Debt Management Office announcement that the Federal Government would obtain additional foreign loan to the tune of $2.7 billion (N824.82 billion).

“This development calls for concern bearing in mind that in three years, Nigeria’s debt profile rose from $10.32 billion in June 30, 2015 to $22.08 billion as of June 30, 2018.

“With this additional loan, the country’s foreign debt would increase and would invariably increase the overall debt portfolio of the country which stood at N24.39 trillion as at December 31, 2018.

“Already, the Federal Government proposed to spend a total of N2.14 trillion on debt servicing in the 2019 fiscal year which is 27 per cent of revenue.

“So this fresh World Bank loan will further increase sporadically the amount of that of 2020 to be dedicated for servicing debts.

“We are concerned with the increasing amount meant for debt servicing and this is becoming worrisome as more funds that could be used for developmental projects are used to service debts.

“We expect the government to cut down its debt and seek other ways of raising funds, by rigorously promoting new investments to increase revenue.”

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CBN: Prioritising agric for states’ devt

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CBN: Prioritising agric for states’ devt

As agriculture becomes the new bride for economic development in Nigeria, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, last week  engaged state governors on 10 agricultural commodities. Abdulwahab Isa reports

 

 

As oil revenue keeps dwindling, both federal and state government are challenged by insufficient alternative revenue sources required to augment monthly income from the federation purse.

Finding additional source of revenue outside the usual oil and taxations is a routine topic frequently discussed at every meeting these days.   

The dire economic situation at the state level of government, where governors stand and wait for monthly disbursement from Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) reinforces the quest to finding an urgent solution.

To check the ugly trend, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is charting a new economic prosperity direction across states with focus on agriculture, Nigeria’s abandoned and ignored economic treasury.

Of course, the apex bank’s initiative of enhancing agricultural development is focused on boosting the production of identified agricultural commodities that have high growth enhancement impact, ability to create jobs, improve capacity of industries, and conserve foreign exchange.

CBN’s agriculture roadmap

The apex bank’s recent effort in charting prosperous economic path for states via agriculture value chain has been embraced by the governors. 

This, indeed, will wean states off their sole dependence on monthly income from FAAC.

In the last two years, the apex bank began making fresh inroad into the revival of dead key sectors, whose impact can rejuvenate economy.

The bank has spotted 10 key commodities where each state can play and make economic fortunes.

The commodities are rice, cotton, oil palm, tomato, cassava, poultry, fish, maize, cocoa and livestock/dairy.

They have been identified as  key products  to be developed along the value chain to achieve economic prosperity and job creation at state level.

The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, last week, presented the bank’s commodity road map to state governors with nineteen governors in attendance.

Emefiele said: “In the past three months, we have made substantial  progress but we need to interact more with our state governors  to sustain the momentum.

“The ultimate objective is to make our states economically viable through enhanced investments by the private sector which  would in turn  create more economic opportunities  at the sub national level, engage our teeming youths in meaningful enterprises, improve  internally revenue base for states to meet the developmental expectation of its citizens. This is in addition to what we are doing through Anchor Borrowers Programme to support small holder farms in our rural communities.”

Sector by sector scorecards

Emefiele took time to present CBN’s agriculture support initiative in each state.

Cotton, textile and garment sector, for instance, are abandoned sector the   bank is making effort to revive.

Twenty six states have benefited from CBN direct interventions.

The states are Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, Katsina, Kano, Kaduna, Yobe, Borno, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Jigawa, Oyo, Taraba, Gombe, Bauchi, Kwara, Niger, Kogi, Benue, Cross River, Edo, Delta, Ekiti, Ogun and Lagos.

Latching on its Anchor Borrowers Programme, CBN commenced with the cultivation of 200,000 of hybrid cotton distributed to 200,000 farmers in the 26 tates.

It spearheaded the importation of over 6,000 metric tones of improved cotton seed, in additional to 2,000 metric tonnes sourced locally.

Total expected yield at the end of the current season is 302,440 metric tonnes. The distribution of inputs to cotton farmers was flagged off in Katsina on May 6, 2019.

Livestock is another cash cow and money spinning venture for states. Emefiele sketched out progress made by the bank in this regard, using its flagship partnership on livestock development initiative with Niger State.

For instance, Niger state with 26 grazing reserves gazette but has chosen Bobi grazing reserve situated in Mariga LGA with land area of 31,000 hectares with about 700 families with 300,000 heads of cattle resident thereon for the pilot project.

  For palm oil, the CBN governor said: “Our target is to ensure that a minimum of 1.4 million ha of land is put under oil palm cultivation in three years. As a step in this direction, the Bank had met with 14 State Governors who pledged to make available 100,000ha of land in each state.

“We currently have a total of 904,624 hectares which are available in the states for allocation and investors have been matched with the States of interest to process necessary documentation and titling requirement.  The investors are to be funded from the bank’s intervention programme.  However, some of the States are slow in making the land available to these investors.

“So far a total of about N30 billion has been disbursed through deposit money banks in favour of 6 oil palm companies to support their expansion programmes.  The companies are PZ Wimar, Biase Oil Company Limited, Eyop, Okomu Oil Company, Presco Oil Company, SIAT Limited,” he said.

With regard to tomato, Jigawa and Gombe states have fully keyed in, with CBN concluding investment plans with two tomato processing and packaging firms in the months of June, July and August 2019.

In Jigawa State, he said, Sonia Foods Ltd has been allocated 2,380 ha of land at Birniwa for its project.

In addition, the bank is funding about 18,000 farmers under the ABP to produce hybrid tomato for processing by Sonia Foods Ltd in the State. Sonia Foods is setting up a 1,000 mt/day processing and packaging plant in Jigawa state.  This project, he noted, would create 110,000 jobs.

Dangote Tomato has a 1,200 tons/day tomato processing plant in Kadawa, Kano State.  The bank, he said, was funding about 40,000 farmers to meet the tomato needs of the processing plant under the ABP. Inputs worth N4.18 billion were procured for the initiative.

Nigeria is not maximising her potential in cassava production. Identified as the world’s largest producer of cassava tubers with 53 million mt per annum, yet it spends over $600 million per annum to import casava derivatives, an act Emefiele declared unpatriotic.

He announced forthwith, restriction of forex supply to  import cassava by-products, which include starch and ethernol, among others.

The cassava initiative of the bank is to improve cassava productivity, stabilise prices and encourage local processing to generate employment.

Kogi State government has set aside 1.35 million ha of land for cassava cultivation and has, in addition plan to establish a processing plant to produce ethanol.

Maize cultivation is a select product of CBN, where states stand to reap bountifully.  The bank has disbursed the sum of N5.38 billion to 41,237 farmers  from 30 states of the federation.

The bank is currently collaborating with the 12 river basin development authorities on the use of irrigable land in their areas of operation for dry season farming.

Fish is an area Nigeria has strong opportunity cost, which it fails to utilise. Today, Nigeria has fish deficit of 1.9 million, incurring annual fish importation bill of about $1.2 billion.

CBN initiative on fish production is to engage the coastal state governors to develop the blue economy to address the deficit of1.9mt as well as eradicate the huge import bill for fish of about  $1.2 billion. This is avery huge economic opportunity for the states to create an enabling environment for investors.

For poultry, the bank has entered into agreement with select tertiary institutions on piloting  University – Based Poultry Production Programme.  Twelve universities across the six geo-political zones are involved.   

Rice is Nigeria’s most popular food.  The bank   has supported 849,480 farmers with N146 billion  across the country  in the wet and dry seasons.

“Working with other stakeholders we are waging a war against smuggling of rice into the country.

“Other rice mills financed by the Bank include the WACOT and Labana Rice Mills  in Kebbi State,  and  Umza Rice Mill in Kano,” Emefiele told the state governors.

Governors’ take

Unable to contain their happiness,  the state governors showered commendations on Emefiele. 

For Kebbi State Governor, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, in whose domain Anchors Borrower Program for rice production was flagged off, he described Emefiele as an uncommon CBN governor.

He said: “The basis for banking is price stability; the basis for farming is food production. Mr. Emefiele has really captured the essence of central banking. 

The governor said that there was a huge financing gap in the agricultural sector, adding that it would be difficult for the apex bank balance to absorb.   

He said the intervention of CBN was a step in the right direction as it will provide the platform for others to invest in the sector.

The Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said that the apex bank should also come up with measures to match farmers with markets in order to reduce post-harvest losses.

He said one of the challenges facing the farmers was the lack of adequate storage system, adding that without an effective warehousing system, it would be difficult to add value to agric produce.

Also speaking, Chairman of Governors’ Forum, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, lauded CBN for its strides in agriculture; a novel engagement, he said, gave states new economic direction.

In his response, Borno State Governor Prof. Zanna Zulu, said he was aware of CBN intervention and support to his state.

However, he requested the bank to come up with deliberate measure that will attract investors to his state considering that the state is ravaged by insurgency.

“Right now, the situation in Borno does not allow investors to come to North East,” he said.

Last line

CBN’s economic revolution in agriculture value chain across states, if given all the support by governors, is a life line that will transform the states’ economies for the best.

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BVN registration rises to 39.2m

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BVN registration rises to 39.2m

Registration for Biometric Verification Number (BVN) by bank account owners in the country has increased to 39.2 million.

According to Nigeria Interbank Settlement Systems (NIBSS), this was recorded as at September 22, 2019.

This shows that about 1.2 million accounts owners were registered for BVN in the last three months as the figure stood at 38 million mid-June this year.

While total active bank accounts stood at 72.9 million as at the end of June, the banks and NIBBS had set a target of achieving 70 million BVN registration by 2020.

BVN is a unique number for customers of banks in Nigeria, which contains biometric details of customers, including the fingerprint of all 10 fingers and facial image.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), through the Bankers’ Committee and in collaboration with all banks in Nigeria, launched a centralised biometric identification system for the banking industry in 2014.

The biometric identification was introduced to address identity theft, reduce exposure to fraud and enhance the banking industry’s chances of being able to fish out blacklisted customers, among others.

Analysis of data released by NIBSS showed that registration for BVN had been increasing steadily as the rate of accounts being opened in the country increases.

For instance, 2.04 million bank accounts were opened in the country between December 2018 and February 2019.

According to NIBSS, the total number of bank accounts opened by Nigerians, which stood at 118.1 million as at the end of December last year, inched up to 118.9 million in January and rose to 120.1 million in February.

By March, the number of bank accounts in the country rose to 120.9 million and in April, it hit 121.6 million. In May and June, total number of accounts stood at 122 million and 122.3 million respectively.

Further breakdown of the data indicates that the number of active bank accounts also increased during the period as it grew from 71.2 million in December last year, to 71.7 million in January and 73.5 million in February.

In March, active accounts rose to 74 million but declined to 72.9 million in April. In May and June, number of active accounts remained static at 72.9 million.

While BVN is seen as a potent tool to fight corruption because every account owners can be identified and traced, industry analysts believe it has led to increase in the number of inactive bank accounts and unclaimed funds in banks as people with questionable sources of fund are unable to claim their accounts and link it with BVN.

They noted that this was also responsible for the large number of accounts yet to be linked with BVN, adding that the figure may not likely reduce.

The target of 70 million BVN registration by banks and NIBSS was part of the implementation plans of the Shared Agent Network Expansion Facility (SANEF) initiative unveiled last year.

The initiative, which is primarily aimed at accelerating financial inclusion in the country, is being powered by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), deposit money banks (DMBs), NIBSS, licensed mobile money operators (MMOs) and shared agents.

According to a member of the technical committee set up by the CBN to deepen financial inclusion, Mr. Bolaji Lawal, the plan to almost double the number of Nigerians with BVN within two years was critical to boosting the country’s financial inclusion rate as well as ensuring financial stability.

He disclosed that as part of plans to ensure that the 70 million enrolment target by 2020 is met, 10,000 remote BVN devices were ordered by NIBSS and were being deployed by DMBs, MMOs and super agents.

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NDPR: NITDA probes Truecaller over Nigerians’ data

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NDPR: NITDA probes Truecaller over Nigerians’ data

The National Information Technology Agency (NITDA) said it had commenced investigation into the operations of the Truecaller mobile app over possible breach of Nigerian’s data.

The agency said its initial findings revealed that the mobile app’s privacy policy was not in compliance with global laws on data protection and the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) in particular.

NITDA said it also discovered that there were over seven million Nigerians who are active users of the service, hence the need to look deeper into the app and enlighten public on some of the areas of non-compliance as well as guide those affected.

NITDA, in a statement signed by its Director General, Kashifu Inuwa, said the caller-identification service was putting “many Nigerians in unsavoury conditions.’’

Inuwa said some provisions of the Truecaller Privacy Policy were clearly excessive and invasive of the privacy of its users. 

He said the provisions of the policy could be exploited to “put many Nigerians in unsavoury conditions,” adding that contrary to the expectation of many users, the Truecaller service collects far more information than it needs to provide its primary service.

“In view of this, we urge all Nigerians to take advantage of Article 4 of the Truecaller Privacy Policy, which provides – ‘If any persons do not wish to have their names and phone numbers made available through the Enhanced Search or Name Search functionalities, they can exclude themselves from further queries by notifying Truecaller via its website or as set forth in the contact details below…’

“Members of the public may also decide to delist themselves from the Truecaller Service completely,’’ he said.

He assured Nigerians that NITDA would continue to monitor the activities of digital service providers with a view to ensuring that the rights of Nigerians are not unduly breached while also improving the operational environment to support ethical players in their bid to get maximum benefit from Nigeria.

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