Apex bank’s frequent dollar sales boost forex stability
he Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) sold a cumulative sum of $8 billion to the Bureaux De Change (BDC) segment of the foreign exchange market in the first seven months of 2019, data obtained from the apex bank has shown.
New Telegraph arrived at the figure from an analysis of CBN’s economic reports for the first quarter of this year as well as its economic reports for the months of April, May and July.
For instance, in its economic report for Q1 ’19, the apex bank said it sold more forex to authorised dealers, including BDC operators, between January and March, compared with the preceding quarter.
The report said: “A total of $11.81 billion was sold by the CBN to authorised dealers in the first quarter of 2019. This represented 10.2 per cent increase above the level in the fourth quarter of 2018. The development, relative to the preceding quarter, reflected the increase in inter-bank sales and swaps transactions in the review quarter.
“Of the total, foreign exchange forwards disbursed at maturity was $2.30 billion (19.5 per cent); sales to BDCs, $3.64 billion (30.8 per cent); I&E window, $1.53 billion (13.0 per cent); interbank sales, $0.55 billion (4.6 per cent); swaps transactions, $1.14 billion (9.7 per cent); SMIS intervention, $1.40 billion (11.8 per cent); wholesale forwards intervention, $1.00 (8.4 per cent); and SME intervention, $0.26 (2.2 per cent).”
Also, the regulator’s economic reports for April and May this year indicate that it sold a total of $2.2billion to BDCs during the period.
Specifically, the reports show that the CBN sold $1.16billion and $1.05 billion to the BDCs in April and May respectively.
Similarly, data obtained from CBN’s recently released economic report for July shows that it sold $1.08billion to BDCs during the period compared with $1.04billion that it sold to the money changers in the previous month of June.
The report said: “The bank continued to intervene in the foreign exchange market to further sustain improved liquidity and relative stability in the market. Thus, a cummulative sum of $2.63 billion was sold by the bank to authorised dealers in July 2019, compared with $2.50 billion supplied in June 2019.
“This indicated an increase of 5.2 per cent above the level in the preceding month, but was in contrast to the decline of 34.6 per cent recorded at the end of the corresponding period of 2018.
“Interbank sales rose by 1.9 per cent to $0.08 billion, in contrast to the decline of 34.5 per cent in the preceding month. Similarly, BDC sales rose by 3.8 per cent to $1.08 billion, while swaps transaction fell by 55.2 per cent to $0.13 billion below the preceding month’s level of $0.29 billion.”
Thus, having cumulatively sold $3.64billion and $3.24billion to BDCs in the first and second quarters of this year respectively, it means that when the figures are added to July’s $1.08billion, the apex bank sold about $8billion to the money changers in the first seven months of this year.
Analysts note that the steady increase in forex sales to BDCs, especially this year, follows the CBN’s decision in November last year to step up dollar sales to that segment of the forex market as part of measures to address rising demand for forex during that period.
In fact, in its “Annual Activity Report” for 2018, the CBN stated that “the direct sale of foreign exchange to BDC’s continued in 2018. However, the bank increased the volume and frequency of its weekly sales to three times per week in May and subsequently to four times per week in November.
“This was to manage the demand pressure which emerged due to capital flight as the market reacted to normalization of rates by the US Federal Reserve, dwindling crude oil price levels and ensure exchange rate stability. Consequently, total sales to a BDC per week stood at $75,000.”
Prior to increasing its weekly sales to BDCs to four times per week late last year, each BDC was entitled to purchase $20,000 from the regulator on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. That means a total of $60,000 per week for each BDC.
However, this amount increased to $75,000 when the CBN introduced a special forex sale of $15,000 per BDC every Thursday. New Telegraph gathered that over 4,000 licensed BDCs purchase dollars from the CBN on each of the four days that the regulator sells forex to the operators.
According to analysts, the CBN’s regular supply of dollars to the forex market has been mainly responsible for the stability of the naira against the US currency in the past two years. Indeed, the naira has exchanged at an average of N360/$ in the BDC segment of the forex market in the last one year.
Border closure: Agonies of manufacturers, exporters
Recently, local manufacturers and exporters under the auspices of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria Export Promotion Group (MANEG) held its second annual general meeting (AGM) in Lagos where issues on border closure and other constraints were raised. Taiwo Hassan reports
In reality, the recent pronouncement by the Nigeria Customs Service that it is raking N5 billion daily from land border closure still sounds somehow before local manufacturers/exporters amid the challenges and negative impact the development is currently having on their business bottom line and investment in general.
However, government has repeatedly stated that the border closure was more of security concern following influx of illegal weapons, ammunition and smuggled rice via the country’s land borders.
Ironically, even before government took the decision, members of the organised private sector had called on it to intervene in smuggling of fake and counterfeit goods coming into the country, saying that the trend was severely affecting their businesses.
Speaking at the MANEG AGM, the association’s president, Chief Ede Dafinone, explained that its members were facing difficulties in their export businesses since government announced the closure.
Dafinone noted that members were already counting huge losses as exporters no longer meet up with their production outputs.
He, however, maintained that MANEG wanted the Federal Government to reopen land borders with immediate effect following its negative consequence on the economy, especially the manufacturing sector.
“MANEG and MAN will continue to make representation to the Federal Government that there must be a time frame where we know that the borders can be opened for business because our members are losing significant revenues in this period. They will still be servicing loans and taking on board overhead cost this time that cannot be recovered.
“You may also be getting pressure from your customers for not complying with the delivery contracts order you have made. I say all these to enhance the points we have made and put it in perspective of those who are not aware so that the public, government, and agencies of government will be aware of the sufferings of the exporters through this border closure.”
Also speaking, the representative of Aarti Steel (Nigeria) Limited, Imokhai Ehimigbai, carpeted the Federal Government for the sudden announcement of border closure without prior notice to MAN and other private sector groups in the country.
He explained that the border closure announcement was counter-productive and inimical to genuine exporters of goods in the country, frowning that many of them were facing severe difficulties in their export business.
According to him, the border closure has put genuine exporters on the edge as the lull business has affected their bottom line.
Ehimigbai said: “We were not informed about the border closure by the Federal Government, especially the Nigeria Customs Service as manufacturers and exporters that it would take place at such period, and till today, the borders are still closed. Many trucks are hanging there as at now, can you imagine if you are paying demurrage on your goods meant for export for over a month now what will be the cost today? I don’t know if there is any way MANEG can step into this matter for those of us doing proper business so that we can be allowed to carry out our genuine businesses at the Seme border and other borders.”
The steel exporter noted further: “If I tell you that am not feeling the heat I will be telling you lie. I had an order from my client in Ghana to supply steels and then on getting to the border, we met it closed. Imagine there was no prior information to that effect. I had six trucks; four going to Ghana and two for Benin Republic hoping that it would be shut for a short period.
“After about a week, I have to recall these goods back to the factory, it was a big loss on the company’s side having paid for six trucks we could not recover the money. You have loaded and one week they got to the border one week they returned. Demurrage was paid money was spent so it was a very big loss to the company.”
Speaking on preference for land borders by some exporters, Ehimigbai noted that many local exporters had abandoned the ports because of the lingering gridlock, which is fuelling high cost of transportating goods meant for export to the port.
Recounting Apapa congestion experience, he said: “Until today, the orders are there from our foreign clients in neighbouring countries but we cannot export, we cannot meet the order from our own point because the borders still remain closed. And if you decided to export by sea, the problem we are facing in Apapa is another one. Do you know that to take out a truck out of the Apapa port is a hell.
“For instance, I have zinc ice going to Mombasa port in Kenya, this order was made in March this year, the products were available in factory but I could not export until May because of the congestion on the Apapa end of Lagos. I even faced query from Colbert because I opened my NSP as far back as March when the orders were made but did not export until May. They were asking me for the delays I have to do a letter explaining why the delay came up.
“We all know the problems we face at the Apapa end of Lagos, getting empty containers out of the ports is a problem, returning containers with products to the port is another problem and we decided to go by roads and the borders are closed.”
The MANEG president stressed that it had been difficult for the association’s members as Apapa gridlock continues to linger.
MANEG stressed that the border closure was having serious multiplier effects on Federal Government’s revenue as well because a lot of money is being lost in the process.
Firm rues dearth of road infrastructure
The Board of Chemstar Group has said the deplorable road infrastructure across the country is a major crisis confronting paints industry, saying the poor situation of highways has continued to pose greater challenge and difficulty to the industry.
This board called on federal and state government to fix major highways in the country to easy the problems facing paints companies while transporting their products to the customers.
It also advised that government look at other areas, such as security, import tariff and electricity that have significant impacts on the real sector of the economy.
Chemstar Group is the owner of Chemstar Paints Nigeria Limited, manufacturer of Finecoat and Shield Paints, and its other subsidiaries.
According to the board, like other sectors of the economy, Nigeria paint industry has also been adversely affected by the economic condition in the country.
It added: “Construction activities in the country have been at the low ebb; property development is also at its lowest pace; while the construction sector is not growing at the pace it has been growing in the past four or five years, and the lull in the property business has also affected the paints business.”
2020: FG earmarks N103m for broadband plan, RoW
The Federal Government is to spend a total of N103 million on the implementation of National Broadband Plan and harmonisation of Right of Way charges next year. This was part of the N5 billion proposed for capital projects in 2020 by the Ministry of Communications.
According to the 2020 budget proposal, N72.1 million is to be spent on “implementation of national broadband plan,” while N30.9 million is to be spent on “implementation of the decision of government on the harmonisation of right of way (row) charges.”
For 2019, N138.8 million was proposed by the executive to be spent on implementation of the broadband plan, even though last NBP expired in 2018. This was, however, reduced to N74.9 million by the National Assembly. Similarly, for Right of Way harmonisation, N80.9 million was proposed but the lawmakers approved N76.8 million
Nigeria’s National Broadband Plan (NBP 2013-2018), which is government’s policy direction to achieve ubiquitous broadband in the country, came to a close in December last year and a new plan is yet to be released almost one year after. Indeed, as at the time of filing this report, the government is yet to set up a committee to draft a new plan as being clamoured for by telecom operators.
The immediate past Minister of Communications, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, had promised to set up a committee for another broadband plan before the end of 2018, but could not do so until he left office in May this year. Worried by the delay, telecom operators have called on the new Minister of Communications, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami, to set up a committee to that effect.
The committee, according to them, is expected to come up with a new plan to drive 70 per cent broadband penetration in the next five years as proposed by the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON).
The Director, Public Affairs at NCC, Dr. Henry Nkemadu, also recently noted that Nigeria was due for another national broadband roadmap. He, however, said government was yet to set up another broadband committee that would drive the process.
“As a regulator, NCC was part of the broadband committee for 2013-2018 and it will always be a member of such committee, but we have to wait for the appointment of a new committee to begin the process of achieving the proposed 70 per cent broadband penetration by ATCON in 2024,” Nkemadu said.
Stressing the importance of a broadband plan for Nigeria, President of ATCON, Mr. Olusola Teniola, said the country was able to attain and surpass the 30 per cent broadband target in 2018 because there was a roadmap.
According to him, “the general Nigerian economy is currently struggling between one and two per cent growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but by the time we attain the proposed 70 per cent broadband penetration level by 2024, Nigerian GDP will reach 9.6 per cent, which is high in global ranking.”
On Right of Way charges, which is seen as one of the major hindrances against operators’ efforts at deploying broadband infrastructure, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had in 2017 resolved to harmonise the various charges across states, to ensure that it is same nationwide. The FEC recommended a uniform charge of N145 per metre to lay fibre cable anywhere in the country. However, until this month, telecom operators said states are still charging as high as N6000 per meter for Right of Way.
According to operators, states have arbitrarily fixed their own charges which range between N1, 500 and N6, 000. While states like Rivers and Abia charge N1,500 and N2,000 respectively, others like Lagos, Delta and Ogun charge up to N5,840, N4,600 and N6,500 respectively.
In total, the Federal Government had budgeted N172.4 million for the harmonisation of RoW charges between 2018 and 2019. Analysis of 2018 budget showed that N95.6 million was approved for this purpose, while in 2019, N76.8 million was approved to implement the government’s decision. If the N30.9 million proposed for 2020 is approved, the government would have spent N203.3 million on harmonisation of RoW charges in three years.
MDXi wins Datacloud Africa Leadership awards
MainOne’s data centre company, MDXi, came out tops at the 2019 edition of Datacloud Africa Leadership Summit and Awards held in Ghana. The company was awarded the “Excellence in Data Centre: Africa” as well as “Africa Cloud Service Provider of the Year.”
According to the organisers of the awards, the awardees were selected by an independent panel of global data centre experts recognised for being world-class data centre and connectivity providers and innovators.
“The highly competitive ‘Excellence in Data Center’ award, honours companies known for excellence in providing regional collocation services in Africa, focusing on the data centres that combine best practice in data centre management and infrastructure, with efficient technologies that lend towards the optimization and security of critical resources,” the organisers said.
Reputed as the largest purpose-built commercial data centre in West Africa, MDXi was recognised for its world-class data centre infrastructure designed with a strong focus on high availability, security, and open access connectivity and operational excellence.
Expressing his pleasure at receiving the awards, General Manager, MDXi, Gbenga Adegbiji, said: “We are immensely appreciative of the recognition by the international community for the role we play in the West African digital ecosystem and we reaffirm our unwavering commitment to continued service excellence, by providing reliable collocation and cloud solutions.
“The data center business is about giving our customers peace of mind to run their businesses from wherever they may be, and we do not take the responsibility lightly. We have just launched our Abidjan Data Centre and announced our Appolonia (Accra) Data Centre where we plan to bring our operational expertise and processes to ensure the highest quality standards are put in place for customers in those markets. We are firmly looking forward to serving more businesses as the region continues to grow its digital economy.”
Bells’ students develop software to computerise hospitals
A team of 19 students of Bells University of Technology were recently mentored by leading US-based international IT company, New Horizons, to develop a high-end hospital management application to solve university-wide medical need.
According to the school’s management, the development has further advanced the capability of Nigerian universities to be the provider of much needed IT solutions, which can bail the country out of dependence on oil economy and near-total reliance on foreign technology experts to solve critical societal issues.
At the commissioning event on the university campus, it was revealed that the students successfully developed a digital solution named Bells Hospital Management System (BHMS) that completely digitalises the university’s medical/hospital system through a project platform named “Bells/New Horizons TECH HUB.’’
According to the project’s team leaders, the technology hub was established as the project-based component of the high-end deliverable emanating from the partnership between the university and New Horizons organisation.
The university management led by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Jeremiah Ojediran, was visibly impressed based on the fact that the project team consists of students from diverse disciplines, which include Atewogbola Yanmife – 400L Computer Engineering, Adetipe Kehinde – 300L Accounting , Oyienloba Joel -200L Computer Science, Umeh Tobenna -200L Computer Engineering, Adedigba Mololuwa- 300L Accounting , Ushie Joan – 400L Electrical Engineering, Uko Akanowo- 300L Computer Science, Kevin Obaro – 300LComputer Science, Noiki Tomiwa – 400L Electrical Engineering, Oladele Seyi -300L Computer Science, Odusami Olatunde- 300L Computer Science, Yusuf Halimat -300L Mechatronics.
The rest are Arogundade Rahmat -300L Mechatronics, Jibueze Anthony – 300L Computer Science, Oguh Kelechi -400L Electrical Engineering, Makanjuola Eniola -400L Architecture, Onatoyinbo Timileyin -300L Civil Engineering, Ogunseye Abiodun- 300L Accounting , Echefu Louis- 400L Mechatronics.
Professor Ojediran appreciated New Horizons management for mentoring the students from the scratch up to the development of the hospital solution.
According to him, various supports from New Horizons, which include periodic free ICT training for staff, media promotion of Bells University brand, prizes at convocation event, among others, have shown that the partnership with New Horizons is a viable one.
The Managing Director/CEO of New Horizons, Mr Tim Akano, who led the company’s team, commended the project team for having teachable spirit and being fast learners.
Akano charged the students on three main takeaways. Firstly, he said the students should have the mentality that they are not too young to be successful and that they should learn from internationally successful technopreneurs like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Dell, etc that started their researches and exploits as very young undergraduates.
Inlaks to host banks, others at maiden digital summit
Leading systems integrator in sub-Saharan Africa, Inlaks, is set to bring together leaders, regulators, and investors from the financial services industry to discuss issues around digital banking in Africa through its maiden digital summit.
Themed: “Unlocking the opportunities in the Digital Banking Age,” the summit scheduled to hold in Lagos is expected to explore the diverse opportunities technology offers to the financial and banking sectors and how African business leaders can harness it.
Speaking ahead of the event in Lagos, MD, Africa Operations, Inlaks, Femi Adeoti, noted that “for over three decades, Inlaks has thrived successfully in bringing authentic and innovative solutions to its customers. In today’s world of unprecedented shift in digital tendencies across industries, every economic sector must be well-prepared for the imminent change to stay relevant. Inlaks Digital Summit 2019 will address issues relating to the relevance of technology to the financial and banking industries, preparing our industry for coming technological disruptions and arming them with adequate knowledge on the future of banking.”
In an interaction with the press, the Executive Director, Infrastructure Business at Inlaks, Tope Dare, noted that the financial service and banking sector, in the last decades, had witnessed disruption due to changing technology and consumer behaviours.
“By 2020, most of the big players in the fintech industry will be competing with banks for same customers. Therefore, only banks that can transform into an effective digital bank will survive the threat and stay relevant.
Experts advocate technology adoption for Nigeria’s healthcare
Practitioners in the healthcare delivering profession have been advised to take advantage of the several premium healthcare solutions and technologies that abound in the advanced economy to improve the Nigerian healthcare sector. Speaking at the HealthCare Business Conference (HBC) of the Medic West Africa Exhibition and Congress, held in Lagos, leaders in the health and technology sector said technological innovation would help bring healthcare services to millions of Nigerians.
Speaking in one of the sessions at the HBC, Co-CEO, DrugStoc , Dr. Chibuzo Opara, said advanced medical technology can improve the standard of medical practice in Nigeria, adding that it can be done through the introduction of innovative ,high quality affordable and state-of-the art medical equipment.
Beyond the impact of technological innovation on the health sector, the practitioners also had the opportunity to examine the issue of business management alongside bookkeeping skills. Highlighting the essence of business management, Country Director, Iqvia and Board Member of Healthcare Foundation of (HFN), Mr. Remi Adesuen said that most members of the HFN are in the SMEs sector of the economy and they offer primary healthcare services to Nigeria contrary to the notion that primary healthcare is that of government. According to him, over 70 per cent of Nigerians access their healthcare through the private sector noting that 60 per cent of the practitioners are SMEs, who needs business skills and technology to give the required medical care.
Oil prices edge higher as OPEC hints at deeper output cuts
Oil prices rose on Wednesday, tracking gains in equities, as investors pinned hopes on a potential Brexit deal between Britain and the European Union and on signals from OPEC and its allies that further supply curbs could be possible.
But gains were limited due to lingering concerns of a global economic slowdown.
Global benchmark Brent crude oil futures LCOc1 had risen 25 cents to 58.99 dollars by 0621 GMT, up about 0.4 per cent from the previous day’s close.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 gained 23 cents or 0.4 per cent to 53.04 dollars a barrel.
“Oil is starting to see some bullish positions added on the easing of two big tail risks for global demand, the U.S.-China trade war and Brexit,” said Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at OANDA in New York.
“While a broader trade deal seems unlikely in the immediate future, the risks for the U.S.-China trade war have been fading.”
Last-ditch talks between Britain and the European Union to get a Brexit deal ahead of a summit of the bloc’s leaders this week ran past midnight to Wednesday, but it was still unclear if Britain could avoid postponing its departure, due on Oct. 31.
Analysts have said any agreement that avoids a “hard” or no-deal Brexit should boost economic growth and in turn oil demand and prices.
Providing more support, OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo said the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries “will do whatever (is) in its power” along with its allied producers to sustain oil market stability beyond 2020.
OPEC, Russia and other producers have cut oil output by 1.2 million barrels per day to support the market.
Yet an expected rise in U.S. crude inventories this week kept prices under pressure.
U.S. crude stocks probably grew for the fifth straight week, a preliminary Reuters poll showed.
U.S. oil inventory reports are due out from industry group the American Petroleum Institute on Wednesday and the U.S. Energy Information Administration on Thursday.
The reports have been delayed one day because of a U.S. government holiday.
“Should EIA inventories illustrate for a fifth consecutive week build, we expect for strong selling pressure to afflict oil prices on an intraday basis,” Benjamin Lu from Phillip Futures said in a note.
Concerns of a global economic slowdown due to the protracted trade war between the United States and China and swelling U.S. inventories also pressured prices.
The U.S.-China trade war will cut 2019 global growth to its slowest pace since the 2008-2009 financial crisis, the International Monetary Fund warned on Tuesday.
CBN: Supply of secured credit increased in Q3’19
he Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said that the supply of secured credit to households increased in Q3 2019 and is expected to increase in the next quarter, adding that the development was due to improved market share.
The apex bank, which disclosed this in its Credit Conditions Survey Report for Q3 2019 posted on its website yesterday, also stated that the availability of unsecured credit to households increased in Q3 2019, but it is, however, expected to decrease in Q4 2019.
According to the report, the overall availability of credit to the corporate sector decreased in Q3 2019 but was expected to increase in the next quarter as a result of capital market pressure.
The report further disclosed that demand for secured lending for house purchase decreased in Q3 2019, but lenders expect demand to increase in the next quarter.
“The proportion of loan applications approved increased even though lenders maintained the credit scoring criteria,” the report stated.
It, however, stated that demand for total unsecured lending from households increased in the current quarter, and is expected to increase in the next quarter.
“In spite of lenders’ resolve to retain the credit scoring criterion, the proportion of approved unsecured loan applications increased in the current quarter and is expected to further increase in the next quarter,” the CBN said.
In addition, the CBN survey shows that lenders reported increased demand for corporate credit from all firm sizes in Q3 2019 and they also expect increased demand from all firm sizes in the next quarter.
DMO: Nigeria’s debt hits N25.7trn
Nation’s debt increased by N3.32 trilion in one year
igeria’s total public debt increased by to N25.7 trillion as at the end of June 2019 from N22.38 trillion as of June 2018, the Debt Management Office (DMO) said yesterday.
This means that the country’s debt increased by N3.32 trilion in one year.
The debt stock, the DMO said, is made up of N8.32 trillion ($27.16bn) external debt and N17.38 trillion borrowed domestically.
According to latest data posted on the DMO website, the N25.7 trillion debt comprise N20.42 trillion owed by the Federal Government owed as of June 30, 2019, while the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory had a total debt portfolio of N5.28 trillion.
It would be recalled that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in January this year warned Nigeria and other highly indebted countries against “a legacy of excessive debt”.
Also during its meeting last month, the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) noted that the rising public debt was one of the factors hindering the nation’s growth prospects.
However, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, said in August this year that the country did not have a debt problem, but faced the challenge of generating sufficient revenue.
She said: “There is a lot of insensitivity around the level of our debt. I want to restate that our debt is not too high — what we have is a revenue problem. Our debt is still very much within a reasonable fiscal limit. In fact, among our comparative countries, we are the least in terms of borrowing.”
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