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Financial inclusion: Leveraging technology to drive micro finance plans

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Financial inclusion: Leveraging technology to drive micro finance plans

Meeting the financial inclusion plan of the Federal Government through micro insurance and micro pension arrangement has become an easy task, depending on operators’ readiness to deploy relevant technology. Sunday Ojeme reports

 

 

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s the pension and insurance sectors of the economy aggressively begin the process of enhancing their services to meet the 40 per cent financial inclusion target by 2020, experts are rooting for various strategies to achieve the goal.

 

 

The overall target of the revised strategy is to reduce the percentage of adult Nigerians excluded from access to financial services from 46.3  per cent in 2010 to 20  per cent by 2020, representing a target of 80 per cent inclusion.

 

 

In a manner that is unprecedented in the history of both sectors, they appear to be on equal pace while racing to garner more subscribers for their products.

 

 

Of recent, activities around micro segment of both sectors have taken a turn for the best as plans to reach the hitherto uninsured, as well as provide pension plans for those in the informal sector gain traction, all in a bid to meet the financial inclusion target.

 

 

Financial inclusion plan

 

 

The Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) which was launched in 2012 by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was meant to improve access to financial services and products by the Nigerian adult population.

 

 

The strategy aimed at achieving a 34 per cent increased access to financial services and products by the year 2020, which means attaining 70 per cent inclusion rate.

 

 

Through the micro insurance and micro pension plans, it is expected that more Nigerians are set to be dragged into the nation’s financial security net.

 

 

Achieving this, according to experts, is no longer a tall task if only the operators leverage the relevant technology for the purpose. Since the advent of improved telecommunication model in the country, financial transactions have become easier for all classes of Nigerians.

 

 

Observers believe that similar technology can also be extended to the micro segment as pension and insurance operators continue to design products for potential consumers.

 

Of recent, a number of underwriters have imbibed some aspects of technology through deployment of Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) that enables members of the public transact business with them.

 

 

Stakeholders’ support

 

 

Giving credence to the need for technology in Lagos last week, a former Director General, National Pension Commission (PenCom), Mohammed Ahmad, said that operators and regulators of the two sectors should leverage on technology, especially telcos to reach the masses with financial inclusion message in order to improve the level of financial literacy in Nigeria.

 

The advice is coming long before stakeholders in the insurance sector also called on practitioners to add value to their operations by embracing relevant technology.

 

 

According to the Chairman, Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN), Eddie Efekoha, “as operators, we must begin now and not later to address our minds to the following questions: How do we maximize the use of the additional capital to generate superior returns to investors? How does technology help the industry to deliver superior service and deepen insurance penetration?

 

 

“How do we develop a data pool that supports improved pricing of risks underwritten and innovative products driven by consumer insights? What do we do to develop and attract the right skills and talents that can match the fast pace of technology revolution?

 

 

“How do we harness the values inherent in partnering with other industries like telecoms and banks to deepen insurance penetration? How do we partner with various arms of government like the NPF, Customs, Fire Service to ensure compulsory insurances are enforced? Above all, how can we cooperate better than we currently do for the good of all stakeholders?”

 

 

Sometime ago, a topnotch member of PWC Nigeria, Mr. Andrew Nevin, had reminded the local underwriters of the need to start thinking ahead as the future of the industry would only favour technology savvy investors.

 

 

He said: “By 2030, banks will be invisible. Asset management will be almost completely customized. Insurance will become co-creation on risk and not loss mitigation. Create your ethical issues. There will be massive change in insurance as insurance companies will work with individuals to reduce the level of risks due to accumulation of data.

 

 

“Ninety per cent of transactions would be via mobile, 99.99 per cent transaction would be electronic. People will own their own data. If you are not the best in analytic, you are not in business.”

 

Challenges/obstacles

 

 

Developments in the past years have revealed that the underwriters have been very eager to grow the sector to an enviable height over the years. The efforts have, however, been frustrated by circumstances within and outside their control.

 

 

The outcome of this is reflected annually on the gross premium income of the sector, which currently stands at N400 billion going by recent revelation by the Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA).

 

 

Factors responsible for the shortcomings are quite obvious. While some of the operators have taken capacity development and adoption of certain technology as priorities, public apathy and non-payment of premium by government that is considered as the biggest client, has grossly affected the finances of the operators.

 

 

This challenge appears not to be giving up, as the current shape of the economy is also making it difficult for operators in the industry to be in tune with technology, especially software that will drive their programmes and sustain them in future.

 

 

Experts’ opinions

 

 

Put succinctly in an earlier chat with New Telegraph, the Chief Executive Officer of ATB Techsoft, a multiple business software solution provider, Abiodun Atobatele, said the current downturn having drastically affected the premium and general business of underwriting business had tactically put a halt to the acquisition of modern software that will simplify, enhance operation and boost penetration.

 

 

 

 

Nevin’s account is similar to that of insurance head at Wipro in South Africa, Jaqueline Van Eeden, who observed that technology ‘disruption’ in the traditional ways of doing things has become necessary for maintaining pace in a fast changing, always-on and connected world.

 

 

According to her, there are typically four main aspects of insurance: product design, pricing and underwriting, distribution and admin, and claims management. This model has been the same for decades and, despite of the increase in product complexity, the insurance business is essentially relying on policy premium income and asset management to function.

 

 

However, the rise of disruptive technologies is changing this model, and insurance companies are forced to change from product centric model to customer centric approach.

 

 

She said: “Quick, easy, instant, flexible insurance is very attractive to the African market. An example of such an initiative is currently being investigated by a South African insurer who is moving into the Nigerian market.

 

 

“Insurers are moving towards customised, usage based, real time coverage models and moving away from risk based underwriting approach to risk management approach. From the beginning insurance companies have captured lot of data and advancements in big data and analytics helping insurers in right risk selection, enabling more accuracy than ever before.

 

 

“Legacy interaction methods and distribution channels using call centres and one-on-one visits are being replaced anywhere any-time response to customers is taking top priority. The ‘virtual technology’ is providing easier and instantaneous ways for clients and insurers to obtain and update information, even enabling seamless and accurate billing via mobile applications.

 

 

“There are several trends currently disrupting the insurance industry across the globe, many of which are either technology related or technology driven, which are enabling insurance companies to remain relevant and competitive. African insurance companies are following   suit and embracing many of these global trends in the face of a challenging and complex market environment.

“Some of the key trends that have been identified are an increased use of Internet of Things (IoT) by insurance companies, the use of Big Data to improve claims processing, an increasing demand on cyber insurance, the emergence of Peer-to-Peer insurance, and a growing focus on mobile applications for interaction between insurers and their customers.”

 

 

She said that today’s customer used the Internet to source quotes and research insurance companies to check for the best deals, yet research shows that most insurance purchases are still happening telephonically or through in-person interaction.

 

 

 

“Insurers are coming around to the fact that customers prefer online interaction, and are realising the need to adapt their systems accordingly. We will be seeing the progressive simplification of legacy systems to remove the barriers that hinder them from offering a consistent and seamless customer experience.

 

Last line

With more Nigerians becoming tech savvy on a daily basis, the onus is on operators in both pension and insurance sectors to move along, follow up the process, and design products that will ease transactions for Nigerians so as to make the targeted date for financial inclusion possible.

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FG committed to effective ballast water mgt –Dakuku

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FG committed to effective ballast water mgt –Dakuku

 

…as IMO advocates harmonised enforcement 

 

 

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he Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, has reiterated Nigeria’s commitment to the Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention, 2004. He also said that NIMASA remained determined to ensure cleaner oceans and a safe, secure and environmentally sound maritime sector.

Dakuku stated these in his keynote address at the opening of a three-day regional workshop on Ballast Water Management for Anglophone West and Central African Countries, hosted by Nigeria in Lagos from Monday to Thursday. He said growing concerns about the adverse effect on the marine environment of invasive alien species produced by ballast carried by ships gave rise to the BWM convention of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

He said: “Since the advent of the Convention, efforts have been made to ensure effective implementation of its provisions, among which is this Regional Workshop.”

 

The NIMASA helmsman also said that Nigeria, being among the earliest countries to ratify the Convention, had taken steps to ensure its effective implementation. Such steps, according to him, include: the development and gazetting of regulations on Ballast Water Management, pursuant to the Nigerian Merchant Shipping Act, 2007; development of an enforcement and implementation manual on ships’ ballast water; and development of guidelines with reference to relevant IMO documents for ballast water reception facility and exchange areas.

 

Others are: development of guidelines for enforcement of violations of the regulation on ballast water management; establishment of a globally recognised and integrated ballast water testing laboratory; and development of a home-grown concept of Ballast Water Management and Ports with Acceptable Risk (PWAR), which was presented by Nigeria to the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) 74, in May 2019, among other initiatives.

 

Also speaking, the Secretary-General of IMO, Mr. Kitack Lim, who was represented by the Technical Officer, Sub-Division for Prospective Measures, Marine Environment Division, Dr. Megan Jensen, noted that the marine environment and marine resources were vital to the global economy and sustainable economic growth. He said that there was an urgent need for implementation of a harmonised ballast water management regime around the world, with special focus on compliance, monitoring, and enforcement.

The Ballast Water Management Convention was adopted in 2004 to minimise the risk of species invasions through ballast water. The Convention entered into force on September 8, 2017, and, currently, 81 countries have ratified it, including Nigeria, which was among the first five countries to endorse the treaty.

The workshop had in attendance delegates from Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, Sao Tome and Principe, Ghana, Equatorial Guinea, Gambias and Liberia.

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Meristem: Food inflation to spiral over border closure

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nalyst at Meristem has said that the current mandate for the complete closure of all land borders will further pressure the prices of foods items in the coming periods. We are of the opinion that the envisaged increase in food prices could set the progress of the Monetary Policy Committee’s (MPC’s) growth strategy a step back.

Meristem disclosed that the Nigerian equities market, with a P/E ratio 7.00x, remains favourably priced relative to its peers in emerging markets.

 

“With the uptick in inflation, coupled with the border closure which could incite further rise in the inflation figure, we expect foreign investors to price this into their risk assessment for the market, dampening their confidence in the space.

“…However, at the current inflation level and outlook for a further rise, we expect investors to demand a higher yield as the macroeconomic landscape remains a strong determinant of investment decisions in the year.

 

This is coming after three consecutive months of decline, Nigeria’s headline Inflation rose to 11.24 per cent in September. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose by 1.04 per cent on a Month-on-Month basis (vs. 0.99 per cent in August 2019). On a year on year basis, the food inflation rose by 13.51 per cent (vs 13.17 per cent in August 2019) and the core inflation also rose by 8.94 per cent (vs. 8.68 per cent in August 2019) apiece. “We expect an uptick in inflation to be considered at the upcoming Treasury Bills primary market auction this week,” Meristem analysts said in report made available to Sunday Telegraph.

 

 

They disclosed that the jump in inflationary trends was not unconnected to the recent regulations in the domestic economy which “has begun to weigh in on inflation figures.”

They stated that the partial closure of land borders in August inhibited the free movement of goods, resulting in an uptick in the prices of food items such as frozen foods, rice, vegetable oil and fruits, amongst others. “In September, the food price index rose by 13.51 per cent as against13.17 per cent in August, mirroring the pressure on the aforementioned items. Core price index walked a similar path, trending upwards by 8.94 per cent year-on-year, on the back of price increase in hospital services, cleaning, clothing, footwear and household appliances, amongst others.

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2018: Nigeria lost N39bn to tanker, trailer accidents –FRSC

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2018: Nigeria lost N39bn to tanker, trailer accidents –FRSC

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he Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has revealed that Nigeria lost over N39 billion in 2018 alone to trailer and tanker-related road accidents.

 

This was disclosed during the week in Lagos by the Corps Marshal of FRSC, Boboye Oyeyemi.

He said: “Nigeria lost N39 billion to trailer and tanker crashes in 2018 alone, with about 650 articulated vehicles involved, while over 90 per cent of them had been used for haulage transportation for over 30 years.

 

“Haulage has become the most utilized way of inter-city movements of goods and services, while the country consumes an estimated 60 million liters of refined petroleum products per day.’’

Oyeyemi also revealed the major challenges that FRSC believes to be the causes of the fatal tanker and trailer accidents in Nigeria. Some of them include: Neglect of the use of retro-reflective type of tapes (for night visibility), use of unnecessary additional lights, indiscriminate parking especially along main corridors on streets, Lane indiscipline and use of unlicensed drivers (motor boys).

 

In a general overview, Oyeyemi concluded that adhering to the new “safe-to-load” programme in the distribution of all major oil products by trailers and tankers in Nigeria will curb this depressing rate of accidents. This programme had been structured such that it only allows large vehicles in approved good condition to transport dry and wet cargoes on Nigerian roads.

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Toyota cuts CO2 emissions in new Yaris hybrid

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he styling of the new Yaris, with its prominent wheel arches and wide grille dominating the front, gives it an appealing, “ready to go” character, according to Toyota.

The new Toyota Yaris hybrid pairs a three-cylinder engine with a lithium ion battery for the first time to reduce CO2 emissions by more than 20 percent compared with the outgoing hybrid, the automaker says.

Toyota Europe will offer its latest-generation Yaris small-segment car with gasoline and full hybrid powertrains. There will be no diesel version, as with the current model.

The new small car will initially be launched as a hybrid only, with gasoline versions arriving later, Toyota said in a news release on Wednesday.

 

A 20 per cent improvement over the current Yaris hybrid would reduce CO2 emissions figure to 67 grams per km, meaning its emissions would be closer to a plug-in hybrid than a standard full hybrid.

A switch to lithium-ion from nickel metal hydride has cut the battery’s weight by 27 per cent, Toyota said. Toyota did not give a figure for battery capacity.

The new Yaris is the first car to be built on Toyota’s new modular small-car platform, a variant of the TNGA platform that underpins the new Corolla compact and CH-R and RAV4 crossovers. The new platform, called GA-B, is said to improve handling thanks to increased rigidity and a lower center of gravity.

 

The platform also allows designers to create visually distinctive models with appealing proportions, Toyota said.

The styling of the new Yaris, with its prominent wheel arches and wide grille dominating the front, gives it an appealing, “ready to go” character, according to Toyota.

The new car is 5 mm shorter than the outgoing Yaris, which is 3,950 mm long. The new car is also 15 mm lower and 50 mm wider.

Toyota is strongly promoting the safety benefits of the new Yaris, describing it as the safest in its segment. The company said it is the first small car to use a center airbag, which deploys between the two front seats.

Active safety equipment includes adaptive cruise control, which can brake the car automatically to a complete stop, and a lane-keeping assist. Both are standard.

Toyota will continue to build the Yaris at its Valenciennes plant in northern France. The automaker has invested 300 million euros ($330 million) to bring the TNGA platform to the plant, a move that Toyota said would increase capacity to 300,000 cars annually. The company added a third shift at Valenciennes in 2014 to bring production to 220,000 cars annually.

 

Equipment inside the Yaris includes a touchscreen mounted high on the dashboard and a 10-inch head-up display that projects information such as satellite navigation directions onto the windscreen. A heated steering wheel is also available.

Toyota describes the materials used in the interior as high quality and highlights the use of a felt trim finish on the door panels. The company said its aim was to give the interior “a sensory quality” that places more importance on colors, operation of the controls, interior ambient lighting and graphics.

 

The size of the steering wheel has been reduced slightly as part of a design layout that Toyota calls “eyes on the road, hands on the wheel” because of its intention to reduce distractions for the driver.

The hybrid version of the Yaris has become a successful model for Toyota since it was first launched in Europe in 2012. Almost half of the 130,967 Yaris models sold in the first six months of this year in the region were hybrids, Toyota Europe said.

The model has had few electrified competitors in the segment, but the new Yaris will go up against the new Honda Jazz, which arrives next year as a hybrid model only. Like the Yaris, the Jazz will be powered by a 1.5-liter engine boosted by an electric motor.

Deliveries of the Yaris hybrid will start in the second half of next year.

Toyota will launch 1.0-liter and 1.5-liter three-cylinder gasoline models at a later date but only in selected markets, the automaker said, without giving more detail

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IMB reports 30% piracy drop on Nigerian waters

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he International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has reported a drop in piracy attacks in Nigeria in the third quarter of 2019. IMB said in its latest report, “Nigeria has reduced Q3 piracy attacks from 41 in 2018 to 29 in 2019,” which represents nearly 30 per cent year-on-year reduction.

This is as the Deep Blue Project, a comprehensive maritime security architecture initiated by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), in collaboration with the military and other security agencies, comes into operation.

The global maritime security watchdog also said there was a decrease in worldwide piracy incidents during the first nine months of 2019, compared with the corresponding period in 2018, in a fall to a five-year low.

Director of IMB, a specialised division of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Pottengal Mukundan, said: ‘’119 incidents have been reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Center in 2019, compared to 156 incidents for the same period in 2018. Overall, the 2019 incidents include 95 vessels boarded, 10 vessels fired upon, 10 attempted attacks, and four vessels hijacked. The number of crew taken hostage through the first nine months has declined from 112 in 2018 to 49 in 2019.”

However, according to IMB, piracy and armed robbery attacks remain a challenge in the Gulf of Guinea.

The decline in piracy and armed robbery attacks on vessels came as the Deep Blue Project, Nigeria’s Integrated Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, began to yield results. The project is handled by an Israeli firm, Homeland Security International (HLSI). It involves the training of field and technical operatives drawn from the various strata of the security services and NIMASA as well as acquisition of assets to combat maritime crime, such as fast intervention vessels, surveillance aircraft, and other facilities, and establishment of a command and control centre for data collection and information sharing to aid targeted enforcement.

The Deep Blue Project aims at building a formidable integrated surveillance and security architecture that will broadly combat maritime crime and criminalities in Nigeria’s waterways up to the Gulf of Guinea.

The timing of the IMB report also coincides with the conclusion of the Global Maritime Security Conference (GMSC 2019) hosted by Nigeria, and coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Transportation and NIMASA, under the theme, “Managing and Securing our Waters.”

With the stated objective of, among others, defining the nature and scope of coordinated responses to maritime insecurity in relation to interventions, the conference enabled global maritime leaders to review the progress made in the fight against maritime crime while charting strategies for the future.

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Border closure: IMF backs Nigeria, urges speedy resolution of issue

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Border closure: IMF backs Nigeria, urges speedy resolution of issue

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has backed Nigeria’s closure of its borders with some neighbouring countries over issues bordering on illegal trade.

Mr Abebe Selassie, the Director of the African Department at the IMF, gave the position at a media briefing on the sidelines of the World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings in Washington.

He was responding to a question on whether the closure negates the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

Selassie said although free trade was critical to economic growth of the continent, it must be legal and in line with agreements.

`On the border closure in Nigeria which has been impacting Benin and Niger, our understanding is that the action reflects concerns about smuggling that has been taking place.

“It is about illegal trade, which is not what you want to facilitate,’’ Selassie said.

He said the IMF was hoping for a speedy resolution of the issues as the action was already taking a toll on the economies of the country’s neighbours.

“We are very hopeful that discussions will resolve the challenges that this illegal trade is posing.

“If the border closure is to be sustained for a long time, it will definitely have an impact on Benin and Niger which, of course, rely quite extensively on the big brother next door,’’ he said.

On Wednesday, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said the borders were closed to curb illegal trading activities by Nigeria’s neighbours.

Ahmed said the closure would remain in force until the country secured the commitment of its neighbours to trade agreements and treaties signed with them.

Meanwhile, the IMF director said the AfCFTA was one of the most exciting policy developments in the region in recent months.

Selassie said analyses by the Fund showed that the initiative had a “tremendous potential to facilitate higher economic growth’’.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the IMF projected a region wide economic growth of 3.2 per cent in 2019.

Selassie said the “hard task’’ before African nations was making sure the AfCFTA was fully implemented “to facilitate the trade that we need to see between countries in the region’’.

The IMF director also commented on the continent’s high debt burden, especially from China, resulting largely from borrowing to balance budget deficits.

He explained that the Fund was not particularly wary of China, which he said “has been a very important development partner for many countries in sub-Saharan Africa’’.

“There are some counties that have borrowed extensively, and this is not just from China but from all other sources of financing either through Euro bond, domestic markets or other sources of capital.

“Yes, there are countries that have borrowed beyond what they can quickly pay, but it is important that we get this story straight.

“China has been a very important partner for many countries and remains so.

“Our concern really is more about overall debt level, not just about debt but some other things.

“One is, once you have borrowed money to invest in infrastructure, health and education, it is important you are able to capture the rate of return on that investment so that the debt can be serviced.

“What you put the debt to and how effective the investment projects that you are undertaking is really the important part of the equation,’’ Selassie said.

He added that it was also important for countries to address their “tremendous development needs avoiding debts becoming unsustainable’’.

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Forex intervention: CBN injects $325.5m into retail market

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Forex intervention: CBN injects $325.5m into retail market

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has injected 325.5million dollars in the retail Secondary Market Intervention Sales (SMIS) and CNY14million in the spot and short tenured forwards segment of the inter-bank foreign market.

The bank’s Director, Corporate Communications, Mr Isaac Okorafor made this known in a statement in Abuja on Friday.

Okorafor explained that the dollars intervention was for agricultural machineries and industrial raw materials.

He said the Chinese Yuan, on the other hand, was for Renminbi denominated Letters of Credit.

Okorafor further expressed optimism that the stability in the forex market would be sustained.

He assured the genuine foreign exchange users of the commitment of the apex bank towards ensuring adequate liquidity in the market.

The director disclosed that the bank on Tuesday offered authorised dealers in the wholesale segment of the market the sum of 100million dollars.

According to him, the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and the invisibles segments received the sum of 55 million dollars each.

Meanwhile, N358 was exchanged for a dollar at the Bureau de Change (BDC) segment of the foreign exchange market, while CNY1 exchanged at N48.00.

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Firm files bankruptcy action against AITEO

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Firm files bankruptcy action against AITEO

Charlietam International Services Limited a Port Harcourt-based company has filed an action before the Federal High Court in Lagos to commence winding-up proceedings against the oil giant for its prolonged inability to pay a debt of N259,068,753.00 owed the company for various services rendered to AITEO between December 2017 and March 2019.
The petition was filed by the company through its Solicitors, Anthony Enyindah, Victor Okezie and Dr Dickson Omukoro of Ntephe Smith & Wills.
According to the petition made available to New Telegraph at the weekend in Yenagoa, the petition prayed the court to wind-up the company on grounds of insolvency pursuant to sections 408 and 409(a) of the Company and Allied Matters Act.
In a six paragraph affidavit verifying the petition, Mr Unye Sunday Micah, Managing Director of Charlietam International Services Limited, the petition affirmed that between December 2017 to March 2019, his company rendered services valued at ₦265,068,753.00 and was only paid the sum of ₦6million without payment advice, leaving an outstanding balance of N259,068,753.00.
The petitioner maintained that several demand letters, including those from the petitioner’s solicitors were sent to the Company’s Abuja and Lagos addresses, but AITEO refused or/failed to respond to any of the letters.
The final demand letter dated August 28 2019, was sent by the petitioner pursuant to sections 408 and 409 (a) of the Companies and Allied Matters Act.
In the said letter, the petitioners demanded to be paid the amount owed him and informed AITEO of an impending legal action.
The petition, accordingly read in part: “More than 21 days have since elapsed from the last demand without the Company making good the moneys owed as aforesaid.”
The petition further stated that the Company is insolvent and unable to pay its debt and your Petitioner therefore humbly prays as follows:
“That the Court, under the provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 1990, winds-up AITEO EASTERN E & P COMPANY LIMITED; and for such further or other orders as this Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances.”
Reacting to the petition, a source at the oil company said: “I have done my investigations and he is one of our contractors but what I’m doing is to make sure that I invite him here so that everything will be sorted out.”

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ILO: Self-employment, SMEs providing more jobs than ever

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ILO: Self-employment, SMEs providing more jobs than ever

report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has revealed that seven in 10 workers are self-employed or in small businesses.

According to the estimates, self-employment, micro and small enterprises play a far more important role in providing jobs than previously believed.

The data, gathered in 99 countries, found that the so-called ‘small economic units’ together account for 70 per cent of total employment, making them by far the most important drivers of employment.

The findings have “highly relevant” implications for policies and programmes on job creation, job quality, start-ups, enterprise productivity and job formalisation, which, the report says, need to focus more on these small economic units.

The study also found that an average of 62 per cent of employment in these 99 countries is in the informal sector, where working conditions in general tend to be inferior, (i.e. a lack of social security, lower wages, poor occupational safety and health and weaker industrial relations).

The informality level varies widely, ranging from more than 90 per cent in Benin, Cote d’Ivoire and Madagascar to less than five per cent in Austria, Belgium, Brunei Darussalam and Switzerland.

The information is published in a new ILO report, Small matters: Global evidence on the contribution to employment by the self-employed, micro-enterprises and SMEs.

The report finds that in high-income countries, 58 per cent of total employment is in small economic units, while in low and middle-income countries, the proportion is considerably higher.

In countries with the lowest income levels, the proportion of employment in small economic units is almost 100 per cent, the report says.

ILO estimates draw on national household and labour force surveys, gathered in all regions except North America, rather than using the more traditional source of enterprise surveys that tend to have more limited scope.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that the employment contribution of so-called small economic units has been estimated, in comparative terms, for such a large group of countries, particularly low and middle income countries,” said Dragan Radic, Head of the ILO’s Small and Medium Enterprises Unit.

The report advises that supporting small economic units should be a central part of economic and social development strategies.

It highlights the importance of creating an enabling environment for such businesses, ensuring that they have effective representation and that social dialogue models also work for them.

Other recommendations include understanding how enterprise productivity is shaped by a wider “ecosystem“, facilitating access to finance and markets, advancing women’s entrepreneurship, and encouraging the transition towards the formal economy and environmental sustainability.

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Stakeholders mount fresh pressure over housing sector bills

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Stakeholders mount fresh pressure over housing sector bills

Again, stakeholders comprising real estate developers, builders, engineers, estate surveyors and town planners are mounting pressure on the National Assembly to expedite action on the outstanding housing bills before it.

The housing bills, New Telegraph gathered, are yet to be passed by the National Assembly since 20O4.

They include the passage of Foreclosure Bill into law to legally resolve default issues in the housing sector; Review of Land Use Act of 1978; Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill 2018; Review of Federal Government Housing Loans Board Bill (FGHLB); Review of the National Housing Fund (NHF) Scheme Act 1992; Review of Mortgage Banks Act 1989 ( subsumed in BOFIA); Review of Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) Act 1993; and Review of the Trustee Investment Act 1962.

Others are Review of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) Act 1993; Review of the Insurance Act 2002; Review of the Investment and Security Act 1999; Review of the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) Act 1990; Climate Change Adaptation Policy; Policy Creating the National Council on Housing for Sector Regulation; and Securitization Bill and other  affordable housing policies.

Commenting on the bills, a former General Manager of Aso Savings and Loans Plc, Mr. Fonahanmi Idris, said that the various Acts should analyzed into areas of interest in the sector, adding that he was optimistic that if seen, they could be reviewed in line with current dictates.

New Telegraph also gathered that the Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN) was also putting the bills into priority.

Another affordable housing advocate, David Gamvwa, said it was sad that eight of the bills were initiated, prepared and sent to the National Assembly since 2004 by Professor Akin Mabogunje-led Presidential Technical Committee on Housing and Urban Development.

In his agenda setting for government, Adebayo reminded the Minister of Work and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, that urgent passage of the outstanding bills would facilitate rapid investment in the real estate sector and drive the economy.

Besides, he called on the minister to urgently partner with the Mortgage Bankers Association of Nigeria (MBAN), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and others to see that these critical bills are passed by the National Assembly.

Adebayo noted that funding has remained one of the most critical challenges for Nigeria’s housing sector, urging the minister to consider approaches that would ease access to funding low-income housing in the country.

Whether in terms of partnerships, policy developments or securing alternative finance models, Adebayo said that if access to funding could be guaranteed, a lot could be achieved in record time in the sector.

He lamented that mortgages and project constructions were stalled by limited access to funding.

He said: “Another critical mandate for the minister is to partner with relevant stakeholders in the sector to create standard data system in Nigeria that can be universally accepted to collate data, identify data gaps, integrate, optimise and expand knowledge set to meet current demands.”

This, he said should also included the adoption of high impact training that supports research and data generation by major stakeholders within the industry.

“Any plan or investment in the sector ought to be based on dependable data,” he said, quoting the stakeholders.

Adebayo urged government to facilitate process to tackle the backlog of issuance of consent and Certificates of Occupancy on Federal Government lands.

“There is the need to do more in terms of creating enabling policies around land title documentations, with government playing a larger role in assisting investors and supporting local building industries and materials,”  he said.

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