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Gulf of Guinea: A bread basket threatened by piracy

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Gulf of Guinea: A bread basket threatened by piracy

 

West Africa is seeing significant economic growth, with oil discoveries being made off the coast of countries beyond Nigeria. PAUL OGBUOKIRI, in this report, examines the sustainability of the Gulf of Guinea as the bread basket of 470 million people in 26 countries of West and Central Africa vis-a vis the Global Maritime Security Conference to be hosted by Nigeria in Abuja next month

 

 

A bread basket

 

The Gulf of Guinea is a vast and diverse region stretching from Senegal to Angola, including approximately 6,000km of coastline. The Gulf of Guinea which has a maximum depth of 6,363 meters is an important geo-political choke point for transporting oil extracted in the Niger Delta, as well as goods to and from central and southern Africa.

 

The Gulf of Guinea is one of the most dynamic regions in the global energy sector and is of critical importance for the economic development of much of the Atlantic Coast of Africa. Revenues derived from hydrocarbons provide many African states in the region with a strong financial base to fund development initiatives.

 

Also, many of the trade routes connecting Africa with the rest of the world pass through the Gulf of Guinea. This   established   trade   route   has   for centuries been a corridor for the movement of both legal and illicit goods. In addition, the region is rich in   natural   resources   including   hydrocarbon deposits, oil, fish, timber, and mineral resources, which are all globally export.

 

The Gulf water is important as a stock and flow resource and two examples suffice: Firstly, fishing is a vast industry and source of employment for coastal communities in particular. As a source of protein, the Gulf is a major supplier of food for generally poor societies and thus an important element of food security as far as access and availability are concerned. Secondly, its growing energy stocks located at sea or in the coastal zones represent the bedrock of economic income for several countries.

 

It is certainly not by coincidence that the waters of the Gulf of Guinea are a special attraction to littoral African states. They are a vast depository of natural resources. From fisheries to hydrocarbons, these resources generate valuable revenue to the 470 million people of the 26 countries grouped in two economic communities. The Gulf of Guinea waters are a serious source of food and employment for these countries and form an important connection to each neighbouring country. The waters of the Gulf of Guinea form an important part of the whole setup of the region including its land component.

 

Gulf of Guinea piracy

 

Analysts say piracy and maritime insecurity are some of the symptoms of growing regional insecurity, but the triggers can be attributed to economic deprivation and exclusion, poor governance and limited legitimacy, pollution, natural resources management, as well as the impact of the crisis in the Sahel region.

 

Although maritime security incidents increased in the Gulf of Guinea, on Africa’s western coast, the same time the Gulf of Aden pricy was a menace, this area did not initially generate the same degree of diplomatic and military response. To an extent, this reflects the decades of neglect of the region’s maritime domain by countries in the region and broader stakeholders.

 

In recent years, Nigeria has increased political will in combating maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea, as the government aims to strengthen the country’s blue economy and develop Nigeria as a maritime hub for West and Central Africa.

 

NIMASA in 2017 hosting the G7++ Friends of the Gulf of Guinea met in Lagos to discuss lasting solutions to the menace of piracy on the waterways, even as its interventions led to the establishment of the ECOWAS Integrated Maritime Security Strategy (EIMS) and Inter-Regional Coordination Centre (ICC) in Yaoundé, said Dr Dakuku peterside, director general of NIMASA.  He also disclosed that Nigeria played a leading role in the establishment of the African Integrated Maritime Security (AIMS).

 

At the operational level, he said the agency, through collaboration with the Nigerian Navy in 2012-2013, established “Operation Prosperity”, a security taskforce, among others, which had helped to reduce criminal activities in the region. Other initiatives include the establishment of a legal framework to fight maritime crimes through an anti-piracy bill.

 

 

Gulf of Guinea in global oil production

 

Speaking on the forthcoming security conference, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said it will go a long way in addressing security concerns in the maritime domain of the entire Gulf of Guinea.

 

Secretary-General of OPEC, Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo stated this in a statement to the organising committee of the conference.

 

Barkindo noted in the statement that the Gulf of Guinea was strategic to the stability of oil production globally. He said the area was a major shipping route and any infraction there would be felt beyond the region.

 

He said: “The strategic importance of the Gulf of Guinea is undisputed and any disruptions in the area has a direct negative impact on our industry and, indeed, is of global concern. This conference is timely in bringing together the relevant and critical stakeholders to allow them to discuss in a constructive manner what concerted action could be undertaken to ensure the sustainable use and long term security of this important and strategic body of ocean.”

 

Barkindo said the conference would create renewed confidence in investment in the oil and gas sector in the Gulf of Guinea, with a multiplier effect of addressing the challenges associated with the sector globally.

 

 

Maritime security conference

 

 

Over the past two years, the states of West and Central Africa have demonstrated commitment to support and protect the development of the blue economy. The 2013 “Declaration of the Heads of State and Government of Central and West African States on Maritime Safety and Security in their Common Maritime Domain” (Yaoundé Code of Conduct) represents a pioneering framework to collaborate, cooperate, and share information.

 

 

This conference will provide an opportunity for senior officials from the Gulf of Guinea region to develop strategies to improve maritime safety and security. At the national level, the focus will be on: interagency coordination; cooperative mechanisms between state institutions and private sector stakeholders; and preparedness for potential maritime emergencies. At the regional level, the conference will be an important step in the implementation of the 2013 Yaoundé Code of Conduct.

 

 

Speaking on the product, Chairman of Association of African Maritime Authorities (AAMA), Dr Dakuku Dakuku said the conference would provide a platform for stakeholders of all shades to brainstorm and collectively find solutions to the challenge of maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea.

 

 

“We shall have a no-holds-barred discussion on security in the Gulf of Guinea at the conference, which promises to be a watershed event in the history of maritime security in Africa and, indeed, the world,” Dakuku stated. 

 

 

According to him, the summit will also afford the international community an opportunity to tap into the vast investment potentials in the Nigerian maritime industry. These potentials span ship building and repairs, fleet development, ship financing, port infrastructure development, maritime tourism, renewable energy ferry services, seafarer training, research and development, offshore logistics for the country’s oil industry, and aquaculture.

 

 

He noted that “the conference will bring together officials from international agencies, governments, donor partners, shipping firms, oil and gas industry, navies and coastguards and maritime regulators across the globe, to discuss the options for tackling security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea, an area which accounts for more than 70 per cent of Africa’s oil and gas production and five per cent of global proven energy reserves”.

 

 

The objectives of the conference include defining the precise nature and scope of coordinated regional responses to maritime insecurity, evaluating the relevance of various external interventions and moving towards policy harmonisation and regional cooperation. The conference will also tackle threats to maritime security, strategise alternative approach to prevent cyber security threats and advocate for deeper global commitment to the deployment of resources for ending maritime insecurity within the region in the shortest possible time.

 

 

Dakuku said the success of Nigeria in tackling insecurity along its own stretch of the Gulf has been down to robust investment in intelligence and maritime security assets as well as the commitment of the authorities to ending the threats.

 

 

These investments made under Nigeria’s Deep Blue Project will see to the acquisition of two special mission aircrafts, three helicopters and unmanned air vehicles. Others are two special mission vessels and 17 interceptor patrol crafts. This is in addition to the land assets which include 16 armoured vehicles and an intervention team of 340 highly trained personnel. The entire project also takes advantage of satellite technology to monitor the Nigeria’s exclusive economic zone and feed real time information to a command and control centre.

 

 

He said the Nigerian zone of the Gulf has become relatively free of security threats and is now relatively safe, a position corroborated by the Norwegian ambassador to Nigeria, Jens-Petter Kjemprud.

 

 

The ambassador said Nigeria’s tackling of the security issue is so impressive that for more than a year he has not had call for help from Norwegian seafarers plying the route.

 

Last line

 

 

With over 70 countries already indicating interest to attend the conference, it is expected that this conference will be an important step in a continuing shift in strategic thinking about harnessing the rich potentials of the African coastal waters.

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NSE: Stocks extend weekly losses by 0.32%

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NSE: Stocks extend weekly losses by 0.32%

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he Nigerian Stock Exchange at the weekend extended weekly decline as the NSE All-Share Index and market capitalisation both depreciated by 0.32 per cent to close the week at 26,448.62 and N12.875 trillion respectively.

 

rly, all other indices finished lower with the exception of NSE Insurance, NSE Meri Value, NSE Consumer Goods and NSE Lotus II Indices which appreciated by 2.37 per cent, 0.17 per cent, 0.12 per cent and 0.46 per cent respectively while the NSE ASeM index closed flat.

A total turnover of 896.610 million shares worth N16.561 billion in 12,638 deals were traded last week by investors on the floor of the Exchange in contrast to a total of 1.409 billion shares valued at N31.959 billion that exchanged hands the previous week in 13,616 deals.

 

The Financial Services industry (measured by volume) led the activity chart with 597.154 million shares valued at N6.721 billion traded in 7,197 deals; thus contributing 66.60 per cent and 40.58 per cent to the total equity turnover volume and value respectively. The Consumer Goods industry followed with 102.130 million shares worth N7.214 billion in 2,027 deals. The third place was Service industry with a turnover of 84.001 million shares worth N377,017 million in 264 deals.

 

Trading in the top three equities, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Global Spectrum Energy Services Plc and Flour Mills Nigeria Plc. (measured by volume), accounted for 302.285 million shares worth N5.510 billion in 1,290 deals, contributing 33.71 per cent and 33.27 per cent to the total equity turnover volume and value respectively.

 

Nineteen equities appreciated in price during the week, lower than 20 in the previous week. 23 equities depreciated in price, lower than 33 equities in the previous week, while 124 equities remained unchanged, higher than 113 equities recorded in the preceding week.

A total of 960 units valued at N146,642.75 were traded last week in 11 deals compared with a total of 9,219 units valued at N1.079 million transacted the previous week in 24 deals.

A total of 1,397 units of Federal Government Bonds valued at N1.518 million were traded last week in nine deals compared with a total of 2,519 units valued at N2.670 million transacted the previous week in 12 deals.

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…Unveils 2018 sustainability report​​

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…Unveils 2018 sustainability report​​

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he Nigerian Stock Exchange has released its 2018 Sustainability Report titled, “Growth, Innovation and Value Creation.”

The report, which is the fifth edition, showcases the exchange’s sustainability progress along the four pillars of marketplace, workplace, environment and community.

According to a statement from the exchange, the report is a detailed and transparent compilation of the progress on the NSE’s sustainability commitments and targets which were developed when the NSE commenced its sustainability journey with the launch of its Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility (CSR) strategy in 2013.

It also provides an update on the NSE’s activities which contribute towards the attainment of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) leveraging partnerships with stakeholders across its ecosystem.

Highlights from the report showed collaborated with the Ministry of Finance, Nigeria to launch N10.69 billion Federal Government Green Bond,  retained ISO 27001 certification, leveraged Artificial Intelligence( X-Bot) to increase access to market information, zero incidents of corruption, upscaled waste management and recycling to support circular economy through partnership with Recycle points and sustained the provision of quality education to 300 internally displaced children at the Maisandari Alamderi School donated by the exchange.

Others include impacted 42,480 students on financial literacy, raised N28.5million towards the fight against cancer, received two awards of 2018 Award for CSR in Education from the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry and 2018 Award for Best Use of Technology for Efficiency from Nigeria Technology Innovation and Telecom Awards.

Commenting on the report, the Head of Corporate Communications, NSE, Mr. Olumide Orojimi, said: “We hold ourselves accountable to the highest standards, leading the quest for the integration of the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) imperatives in the Nigerian capital market. For us, it is important to lead by demonstrating full disclosures while exploring innovative ways to help our ecosystem apply sustainable practices to advance their strategic agenda towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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Elumelu charges Cape Verdean entrepreneurs on hard work, discipline

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Elumelu charges Cape Verdean entrepreneurs on hard work, discipline

F

ounder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) and Chairman, United Bank for Africa (UBA), Mr. Tony  Elumelu,  has charged entrepreneurs to embrace hard work, discipline and sacrifice on their entrepreneurial journey to success.

He stated this at the Youth Konnekt Forum, themed, “African Youth: Foresight and Opportunities” held in Cape Verde at the weekend.

Elumelu, an African investor and philanthropist, who addressed young Cape Verdean entrepreneurs, shared nuggets from his wealth of experience as an entrepreneur with success stories investing in Africa.

 

He said: “Entrepreneurship is a long-term journey. There is no quick fix. You will make mistakes. You will have challenges. For you to succeed along this journey, you must be disciplined, make sacrifices and save today to achieve your goals.”

 

The audience included public sector leaders – the President of Cape Verde, Jorge Carlos de Almeida Fonseca OICVV, and Prime Minister, José Ulisses de Pina Ceorreia e Silva, as well as development partners, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Elumelu emphasised the important role of the government in creating an enabling environment for small and medium scale enterprises to thrive even as he commended the Government of Cape Verde for the strong, deliberate reforms to boost entrepreneurship in Lusophone Africa.

 

He stated that the future of the African continent is in the hands of the African youths and they must be empowered to achieve the ambition of a well-developed continent.

He said: “The Prime Minister spoke to me about the tax incentive they are putting in place. He spoke about out opening up the country for tourism, and air transportation, and the commitment to entrepreneurs, making sure that those interested in agriculture, ICT and other areas are supported to succeed. He spoke to me about creating the opportunity to meet with some of you and see how the Tony Elumelu Foundation can support some of you. This is what we expect from our African leaders: For them to know that the future of Africa is indeed in your hands. ”

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Oyinloye: Maritime can be major revenue earner

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Oyinloye: Maritime can be major revenue earner

Group Managing Director of SIFAX, Mr. Adekunle Oyinloye, in this interview with BAYO AKOMOLAFE, advises government to remove conflicting laws and policies hindering maritime growth to enable the industry become the hub of shipping in West and Central Africa

 

The company: SIFAX Group

Assest: – NIL

Founded:   1988

Membership: Maritime, aviation, haulage, off dock terminals, logistics, oil & gas, financial services and hospitality, among others

CEO:  Adekunle Abdurazak Oyinloye

Total pay- Nil

Training:  Local and international in shipping and law

Expertise:   Maritime, aviation, haulage, shipping, hospitality and finance.

Schools:      Ahmadu Bello University; University of Lagos; Columbia University and University of Ibadan

Certificates: Degree in economics, Master of Science degree in economics,   banking & finance from University of Ibadan and  the Strategic Management Certificate from the Columbia Business School, Columbia University, New York.

Work experience:   Africa InfraFund Plus;  International Aviation College, Kwara; Echostones Nigeria Limited; Prime Plus Estate Services Limited; Unity Bank Plc;  UnityKapital Assurance Plc (now known as Veritas Assurance Plc); The Infrastructure Bank Plc and Pacific Bank among others.

Previous jobs: Director, managing director and board member of companies

Professional membership: Fellow, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), Chartered Institute of Marketing Nigeria (CIMN), Institute of Credit Administration (ICA), Institute of Direct Marketing (IDM)and a member of the Institute of Directors (IoDs).

 

What is your assessment of the maritime industry since the beginning of the year?

 

 

Activities in the maritime sector are usually low at the beginning of the year, especially the first two quarters. The country had its general elections early this year. This further contributed to the lull in the economy as people were tentative in committing to new investments. In the second half of the year, we began to see a boost in volume of activities. This is generally the case as we draw closer to the end of year festivities.

 

 

However, generally speaking, this year has been very challenging because of the poor infrastructure around the port areas.

What are the challenges hindering Nigerian ports becoming hub in West and Central Africa region?

 

 

There are various challenges hindering the country from achieving the hub status in West and Central Africa. These includes insecurity, unfavourable policies, lack of a strong implementation mechanism, rising port costs and charges, infrastructural deficit, lack of sincerity and will power on the part of the government. There are many conflicting laws and policies hindering businesses, duplication of several government agencies role, bottlenecks in Nigeria’s clearing process and high tariffs, among others.

Once these issues are addressed, Nigeria will definitely achieve the hub status in West and Central African region. Naturally, we have the highest volume of trade and this is the comparative advantage we have over other countries in the sub regions.

 

 

Do you think the industry can grow the nation’s economy?

 

 

The industry can grow the nation’s economy in so many ways. As a company, we have advocated that with the right approach and more attention from government, the maritime sector can become a major revenue earner for government and can replace Nigeria’s dependence on crude oil. Right now, the sector suffers infrastructural deficit. If necessary infrastructure is fixed, many ancillary businesses will spring up and this will create more jobs and add value to the economy. Moreso, the revenue that will accrue to government will also increase.

There should also be a deliberate effort by government to ensure that port cost and charges are reduced. Reduction of the port costs and charges will have a direct impact on the economy too. Once the industry is attractive to shippers and the issues of insecurity on our waterways are effectively tackled, more ships will call at the Nigerian seaports. This will translate to better value for the country in terms of revenue and job creations.

 

 

How has the harsh operating environment affected businesses in port industry?

 

 

The poor road infrastructure has been the biggest challenge confronting all stakeholders in the industry. The terminal operators, Customs agents, consignees and truckers among others have not been finding it easy to get to the port. For instance our company, SIFAX Group has a number of off-dock facilities around the port area where we transfer importers’ consignments for customs clearing. But transfer of containers has become a very herculean task because of the bad roads. It takes days on many occasions for a truck to move containers from Tin Can Island Port to a nearby off dock terminal. This is due to the traffic congestion on the roads around the port.

 

 

The roads are in bad shape and the alternative means of evacuating consignments from the port are not working as expected. This has made trucks and tankers to invade the port on a daily basis. Even the trucks are finding it difficult to access the port freely. The Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) is making concerted efforts through the provision of a transit trailer park to address the menace of the truck blocking access roads. The presidential task force set up few months ago are also working with NPA  to solve the problem of traffic congestion. Their work is beginning to show result, but they still need to do more.

 

 

Because of the road challenge we have not been able to move consignments out of our terminal as quickly as possible, thereby putting pressure on the little space available for vessels to discharge consignments. As a forward thinking organisation, we have always found a way round the challenges. Recently, we partnered with an off-dock facility that is closer to our port terminal for a less-strenuous container transfer. The short distance has given more leeway to decongest our terminal.

 

Also, the  major challenge confronted by the business in the first half of the year was the traffic gridlock caused by the poor access roads around the Lagos ports.

 

 

Although, I commend government for responding to the situation with the award of the road construction, but a more sustainable solution of linking the ports with a functional rail system would complement the road infrastructure. We will also wish that government can think beyond the road to link the Tin Can island port by rail. The numbers of our consignments that spend days on the roads have no reasons to be there. We wish the roads can be speedily restored because that was the pride of our port at one point. A number of our consignments that spend some extra days at the port have no reason to be there if   the roads are good, delivery would have been smoother. Unfortunately, we have not been able to get some of the consignments out at the appropriate time.

We would have looked beyond the roads by linking Tin Can Island Port by rail and that again will make evacuation of cargo easy. On our part, we are ready to play any role that government wants us to play to make it happen. SIFAX Group will also support the Federal Government to retain its place as the hub of maritime activities in the region.

 

 

It is quite a shame that some ports in the coast of West Africa are now taking shine off the Nigerian ports. If you go to Lome Port now, Togo has become a hub of shipping.  I wish that Nigeria as big in size and economy should be the hub of shipping for West and Central Africa. I’m sure we can revise that, government is already taken some steps towards that.

For us, we don’t like to react. SIFAX does not imitate anyone. We set the pace.  So, it is in path of setting the pace that we began this year, the task of looking into the future, beginning with maritime and logistics and we’ve asked ourselves, where do we want to be in five years time? Today, the group is giving birth to a major, new hotel in Ikeja. The hotel is a five-star hotel and it will be declared open early next year. We set the pace at SIFAX group for about 31 years now and we are very happy about it, and our financing is beginning to increase much more than it was before

What are the strategies you have explored to remain in business?

 

 

We are constantly reinventing ourselves so that we can serve the public much better. That is the reason early in the year, my humble self left what I knew how to do better in the past to join forces with the  Group Executive Vice Chairman,  Dr Taiwo Afolabi to further reposition the group. A couple of my colleagues also joined early in the year. The new vision of the company necessitated a new management team, which is currently driving the business. The management is delivering on the mandate of Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, which is to turn the business to a big global brand. It is in the path of setting the pace that we began this year by looking into the future of maritime. We are asking ourselves where we are going. Can we get ourselves ready for the task? We began the year with a restructuring plan to position ourselves ahead of what is likely to happen in the industry. The future has given birth to what we call five years strategic plan and it is planning and executing the plans that you see many of the people that we have brought on board to drive the new business. This is also the reason for positioning ourselves to have increased the number of bonded terminals.

 

As a proactive company, we are already preparing for the future. We have an ambition of becoming a real mega business with substantial presence globally. Our first major footprints would be in Africa. We are already in some West Coast nations while efforts are on to do more.

The recent inclusion of new departments and personnel formed part of the strategy to achieve the feat.

 

Also, the group has also increased its number of bonded terminals with a recent partnership with Mid Maritime Bonded Terminal in Apapa and another expansion at the Okota Bonded Terminal. We will soon be receiving big ocean liners at our Warri terminals.

The group is also maintaining its lead in aviation business in Nigeria with Skyway Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL) which as you know, has been quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. The company was established 10 years ago and it is now dominating the skyline around the airport.

Do you have capacity to compete with other concessionaires in the industry?

 

Yes. Across our companies, more harbour cranes, reach stackers, haulage trucks, forklifts, baggage tow tractors among others have been acquired to match our ambition as a market leader in all the sectors we operate.   Facilities are also been expanded. For example, we have acquired two new off dock locations in Lagos in order to improve cargo evacuation from the port and provide more options for our clients to clear their consignments without stress. We are expecting our throughput for 2019 to be in the region of 280,000 Twenty Equivalent Units (TEUs) to 290,000 TEUs on the back of an improved port access road. We have already crossed the 130,000 TEUs mark for the first half of the year. This figure is 275 TEUs less than what we achieved in 2018.

Despite these, what is your contribution to the country’s economy?

 

There are several Nigerians benefiting directly and indirectly from the business we do as a company.  In term of taxes, the Federal Inland Revenue now comes through your bank statement. Before, they don’t have the power but now they have the capacity to go to your bank and bring out your statement. If they can grab your turnover, they will just deduct their Value Added Tax (VAT).

 

We pay taxes to the Federal Government, state and local governments in hundreds of millions of naira. We are happy paying it as a responsible organisation but we want government to see this as our own contribution towards the growth of the economy as well. We are one of the biggest tax payers around here and we would be more proud if we see the impact of this tax on the streets, schools, hospitals and every socio infrastructure that touches life of Nigerians.

What are the security issues confronting your operations?

 

 

Globally, terminals are expected to be highly secured. Unfortunately, any human invention would also have some shortcomings. We had that unfortunate incident and what is important is what we did afterwards. We have a new chief security officer for the group. He is a seasoned security intelligence person trained in one of the best schools. In the last one month, even with the ingenuity of the criminals, they have met a brick wall as a result of our security expertise. We have also improved our security apparatus.

Do you have enough human resources to sustain your growth?

The company is expending a lot on training to develop human capacity to improve the service rendered at our various companies. Another challenge we have is the issue of human capacity development. The company is spending a lot on training which is a challenge. So, we are creating more opportunities for our staff to take up the challenges that may occur at our various companies.

The   challenge is that the good hands in crane operations would not be created overnight but as more ports get ready and busier, some of the trained hands are migrating to new ports seeking new opportunities, this is a challenge.

 

 

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Lagos, firms partner to build low-cost innovation centres

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Lagos, firms partner to build low-cost innovation centres

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wo agencies of Lagos State Government and four firms have announced a partnership towards the construction of five innovation centres across the state, saying the initiatives were designed to ensure capacity building, competitiveness and ecosystem among start-ups and budding entrepreneurs.

 

Addressing a joint press conference in Ikeja last week Thursday, representatives of Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency (LASPARK), Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), Versecom Limited, IHS Nigeria, Leadspace by Passion Incubator and Cisco Nigeria listed the five innovation centres to include: Energy and Environment Hub; Financial Inclusion Centre; Smart City and Health Initiative; Agricultural Hub; and Logistics and Mobility Innovation Centre.

 

They explained that the hubs would be located within different public parks around Lagos.

In his remarks, Co-founder/CEO at Versecom, Mr. Timilehin Odusina, announced the construction of the Energy and Environment Hub, a low–cost initiative, located at Rafiu Jafojo Park in Shasha, Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State.

According to him, the low–cost hub was created to tackle the cost of office and community barrier to business entry faced by most Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and freelancers in the country.

“This hub offers a seat at N1, 000 per day, 50 per cent to 80 per cent lower than current market rates. The hub is targeted at idea stage – pre-seed startups and freelancers around Lagos,” Odusina said.

 

 

The Sales Director at IHS (Nigeria) Limited, Olaitan Ogunbiyi, on his part, explained that the Energy Hub located would be officially launched on November 1, saying the hub is the first of its kind, making IHS Nigeria the premier sponsor of this initiative. He added that the telecoms infrastructure giant would provide all the funds required to build the hub in its support for Energy and Environment causes, describing the project as one of IHS’ CSR pillars.

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Digitalising insurance for optimum performance

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Digitalising insurance for optimum performance

With technology largely dominating all aspects of business operations, especially the financial sector, experts believe that the nation’s insurance operators have no choice than to join the train or be left behind in the scheme of things. Sunday Ojeme reports

 

 

To flow smoothly with the global business environment, emphasis on use of technology has remained topical for insurance operators to embrace.

In the last three quarters of the year, the need for the Nigerian industry players to move along with time as regards latest tech applications in the operations dominated several fora, even as the industry steps up its recapitalisation drive.

To further consolidate the process, the scenario was repeated over the weekend as the Acting Commissioner for Insurance, Mr. Olorundare Sunday Thomas, again hammered on the need for the operators to move towards full digitalisation of their operations.

Reaffirmation

 

Speaking at the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN) Professional Forum in Abeokuta, Ogun State, he said in this 21st century, for any business to succeed, automation of operations remains the way forward.

He, therefore, called on chief executive officers of insurance companies to embrace technology in order to reap its benefits.

 

 

According to him, digital technology has integrated the world and its systems into “one global village” where all transactions are now on our finger tips. Bigger than the phase of the advancement are the implications which are already affecting us positively or negatively depending on our perspective.

“Insurance business must understand that digitalisation has now taken precedence in people’s day to day affairs and the consequence could be massive if we fail to fix any gap that this can create in our service delivery. We must effectively integrate into the robust financial circle for insurance to take its rightful place in the economy.

“We must invest in technology in order to meet up with current phase of advancement and take our products to the comfort of consumers

 

Widespread integration

To him, technological advancement has taken an unprecedented leap to becoming an integral part of “our daily living, adding that the Digital Era actually started evolving in the 1980s and presented society with information and technologies that are essentially transforming how businesses across all industries operate and serve their customers, the insurance industry inclusive.”

 

Besides low capitalisation, which has seen the local insurance industry not being able to perform optimally, human and technical capacities are also playing largely in its poor performance.

 

For the fact that the insurance market is an information based market since there is lot of gathering, processing and distribution of information, the internet has naturally become a ready tool for any forward looking chief executive officer to embrace.

Doing this goes beyond surface deployment of such technology to as much as making use of relevant software and also keeping the workers on their toes through training and retraining.

 

To make the process comprehensive, the acting commissioner said the commission more than ever before was resolute in sustaining existing initiatives and introducing new reforms that will transform the industry from the resisted to the sought after, neglected to the promoted, despised to the preferred and form the penny stocks to the investors delight. Its achievable and in our power to do.

 

“The theme for this year’s forum “The Digital Era: Implications for Insurance Professionals” couldn’t have come any time better than now that the phase of technological advancement has taken an unprecedented leap to becoming an integral part of our daily living.

“In 2015, PwC identified that Mobile devices, tablets and smart phones will be the most important technological advancements in the insurance sector in the nearest future. This implies that consumer experience, locally or globally are going to be greatly influenced by digital technology.

 

“Imagine this scenario; consumers having their claims, complaints or inquires attended to with minimal human participation, tasks that ordinarily would take several daunting processes to accomplish, now simplified and automated, saving downtime, improving consumer experience, reducing operational costs and providing new revenue streams. This scenario as just described is not far-fetched from reality, it is not only possible and achievable, it is already happening.

Limitless possibilities

 

“This is where our true service will lie and also how the narrative of the insurance industry and market in Nigeria will change. The prospects in embracing technological advancements in the insurance industry are almost limitless; it almost seems too good to be true, and one might wonder if there are many caveats or implications to worry about.

“It thus becomes imperative that we ask ourselves these questions as insurance professionals as to where we want to belong and what we should do. Where are we as an industry in the phase technological advancement? Where are our compatriots? Are we where we should be? What do we need to do?

“In this 21st century, digital technology has integrated the world and its systems into “one global village” where all transactions are now on our finger tips. Bigger than the phase of the advancement are the implications which are already affecting us positively or negatively depending on our perspective

“Insurance business must understand that digitalisation has now taken precedence in people’s day to day affairs and the consequence could be massive if we fail to fix any gap that this can create in our service delivery. We must effectively integrate into the robust financial circle for insurance to take its rightful place in the economy.

“We must invest in technology in order to meet up with current phase of advancement and take our products to the comfort of consumers. The demand by consumers for ease of transacting business is becoming clearer and aggressive. How we respond to these demands will certainly determine our position in the financial market and long-time sustainability of our businesses.

Regulator’s position

“The Commission on its part is committed to improving the use of technology in the sector. It is on this premise that the commission is investing hugely in automating most of its operations. To this end, the commission’s portal that will integrate all insurance transactions into a single hub is being finalised. Hopefully, by the time we meet next year, our processes would have become fully automated and operational. Suffice it to say that NAICOM has at all times encouraged practitioners to adopt technology in their businesses.

“If the industry is to effectively key into the financial inclusion target of the Federal Government, it therefore behoves us to reinvigorate and face the challenges of digitalising our operations, not only to build trust, confidence and reassurance of all stakeholders that the industry is ready to encore its peers, but to enhance penetration.

“Our failure to key into the 21st century demand for digital business services might spell doom for our industry. Our failure to master Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud technologies, means we will be unable to serve even the most basic demands of customers and the post-digital world. Hence, we will be prevented from embracing the next digital trends or disruption. It is important we work towards being part of the wave because this new set of technologies will ensure we rethink the entire industry and the parts needed to be played in the world.

Expert opinions

 

Not long ago, the Chairman, Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN), Eddie Efekoha, said “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?”

 

Also, 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.”

  Last line

Drawing inferences from how far tech applications as well as trend making artificial intelligence have assisted in making things easier for business concerns, the definite thing for Nigerian insurance is to heed the call to avoid being driven out of the market.

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Aviation: Worsening infrastructure decay threatens air safety

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Aviation: Worsening infrastructure decay threatens air safety

 

  • EU’s communication gift degenerating

 

F

ailure by the Federal Government in the past to consolidate safety arrangement in Nigeria’s airspace by maintaining and installing necessary infrastructure is gradually culminating into fear and generating concerns.

To make the airspace safer, according to findings by this newspaper, Federal Government may have to cough up several billions of dollars to provide the necessary facilities.

 

In a chat with New Telegraph, the Managing Director of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, said that the Agency was at the verge of rectifying many of the teething problems associated with the airspace.

The NAMA chief disclosed that investment in the past by successive administrations were not sufficient to provide some of the basic needs for airspace infrastructure.

 

Although Akinkuotu did not give the exact amount of money needed to provide the facilities, he, however, said: “The equipment we need is in billions of dollars. Key aspect of NAMA’s job is communications, navigation and surveillance.

“Let us look at communications. Many years ago, I think the European Union gave us a satellite communication system. That was many years ago. We didn’t do anything about it. We did not expand it but traffic expanded, equipment degenerated. So, what should we do? The question you need to ask is if we need satellite communication? The answer is yes.”

 

The means of communication today that is considered reliable in terms of clarity, according to Akinkuotu, is Very High Frequency (VHF) radio even though it has its limitations. He stressed that it was restricted in a nutshell by what it is called line of sight.

To him, line of sight will have obstacles like buildings, mountains natural and man-made obstructions.

 

He further disclosed that the agency had been able to propagate them with Very-small-aperture terminal (VSAT), noting that what they were given by European Union was not enough for NAMA’s today’s business.

“The equipment does not come cheap. VSATs are the enabling infrastructure to bounce the radios off. We still need the ground facilities. We are in the process of extended VHF communication. That is a huge cost on itself. Then you look at navigation, someone asked me where the roads in the airways? I said to the person that the roads are there. Airways are ways on means between ground based and satellite based. They are about two navigational aids that are established. As you have high traffic you have to have more airways so that you reduce conflicts,” he added.

 

Akinkuotu admitted that the nation’s airspace was safe despite what people might want to say, hinting that either by act of providence or by God enabling people to do the right things or by people doing the right things, the country did not witness accident in the past six years.

He stated that government policies were being implemented by the agencies leading to about six accident free years, which he said was some good things about the airspace.

 

According to him, “in life, I have never subscribed to half measures; we strive for perfection in everything that we do in life. When I look at the airspace, is it safe, the answer is yes. Can it be safer? Yes. Don’t forget that the dynamics have changed from time to time. May be 50 years ago, what we clamour about now in Nigeria is the type of traffic we have now that wasn’t there.

 

“Everybody has a car. A larger number of people have cars. We have to make provision either by expanding the roads, changing the network, having flyovers, having highways; these are the things that show that traffic has increased. The same thing will happen with skies. Fifty years ago, there was only one major airline.

“Many years ago, we had Instrument Landing System (ILS) Category One. Later we upgraded to ILS category two, they said they were not happy about it. We now have ILS category three. These are through the hard work we have put in air safety. We have different machines, different surveillance system. The challenge is how are going to protect ourselves from drones? That is the challenge.”

He stated that the agency had to do something to mitigate things that will not impugn on safe sky in terms of remote pilots airplane system, otherwise known as drones.

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Presco Oil hurt by dwindling earnings

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Presco Oil hurt by dwindling earnings

Rising operational challenges have impacted negatively on earnings of Presco Oil Plc. Chris Ugwu writes

 

 

I

t is a general fact that as of early 1900, palm oil was considered a dominant source of foreign exchange earnings for Nigeria.

Until the 1960s, Nigeria was the world’s largest producer of palm oil, accounting for 43 per cent of global palm oil production.

However, over-reliance on traditional production methods, excessive tapping of palm trees for palm wine and the civil war between 1967-1970 and above all, over dependent on oil and gas as major source of revenue, contributed to Nigeria’s inability to meet up with the global rise in demand for palm oil.

Notwithstanding, the likes of Presco Oil Plc and Okumo Oil Plc, two big commercial operators in the Nigerian palm oil sector, have shown commitment in improving Nigerian economic outlook in the international community and bringing it out of the doldrums that has plagued it for over three decades.

 

 

While it is accepted generally that the overall economic and business climate is a mixed fortune due to mounting economic challenges, Presco Oil has not been insulated, as following recurrent disappointing results its half-year 2019 profits equally dropped by 24 per cent and share price movements also declined, the company like others have remained susceptible to the challenges facing the manufacturing businesses in Nigeria.

 

 

In spite of market sentiments, the company has remained firm not only on the back of demand for palm oil, which outstrips local supply by almost 50 per cent but also beyond palm oil as rubber, which it also produce offers diversification opportunities, the share price stood at N62.15 per share in November 2018, declined by 38.21 per cent or N23.75 to closed at N38.40 per share when the closing bell rang on Friday.

 

 

Financials

Presco Plc began the financial year 2019 with 17.6 per drop in profit after tax for the Q1 ended March 31. The company’s financial report for the period showed a profit after tax of N2.141 billion as against N2.597 billion in 2018, representing a drop of 17.6 per cent. Profit before tax declined by 24 per cent from N3.432 billion in 2018 to N2.576 billion in 2019. Revenue dropped by 16.4 per cent to N5.506 billion from N6.500 billion in 2018.

 

 

According to market watchers, the firm’s Q4-2018 and Q1-2019 results showed weak core operating performance  despite an improved gross profit margin, the company’s EPS dipped by 25 per cent  year on year (y/y), due to the negative impact of biological asset revaluation (loss of N2.6 billion vs. N374 million in the preceding year).

Stripping out the volatile asset revaluation loss, EPS would have expanded by 21 per cent. Similarly, in Q1-19, EPS declined 18 per cent y/y, driven by lower revenue (-16.4 per cent y/y to NGN5.5 billion), higher OPEX (+15 per cent y/y to N1.65 billion), and finance charges (+86 per cent y/y to N540 million), according to Cordros Report.

“Q4-18 revenue declined by 6.1 per cent y/y to N5.1 billion, on account of lower refined crude palm oil (CPO) prices which offset the slight volume growth in the period. Meanwhile, cost of sales growth (-18 per cent y/y to N809 billion) tracked behind revenue, leading to a 2,389 bps expansion in gross margin to 84 per cent (gross profit: -3.4 per cent y/y to N4.3 billion).

 

 

A similar pattern emerged in Q1-19, where PRESCO recorded a 16.4 per cent y/y moderation in revenue to N5.5 billion, driven by the combination of lower local refined CPO price, which declined by 11 per cent y/y together with moderate volume growth. However, since cost of sales (-44 per cent y/y) tapered faster than revenue growth, gross margin improved to 85 per cent from 78 per cent in the preceding year (gross profit: -9 per cent y/y to N4.68 billion).

Also in Q4-18, total OPEX declined by 53 per cent y/y to N2.17 billion, on account of material moderation in selling, general and administrative expenses (-54 per cent y/y) which masked the expansion in distribution expenses (+5 per cent y/y to N87 million). Consequently, EBIT printed N2.20 billion (vs. loss of N221 million in Q4-17), with related margin at 43 per cent. Meanwhile, pressured SG&A expenses (+15 per cent y/y) in Q1-19, acted to drive a 16.3 per cent  y/y decline in EBIT. However, since EBIT declined slower relative to revenue growth, EBIT margin improved slightly by 11 bps to 57 per cent.

 

 

Presco sustained disappointing results during the half year as posted 24.39 per cent drop in profit after tax for the half year ended June 2019.

According to a report obtained from the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), the unaudited financial result for the first half showed profit after tax of N3.016 billion from N3.989 billion recorded in 2018, accounting for a drop of 24.39 per cent.

 

 

Profit before tax stood at N3.882 billion in 2019 from N5718 billion a year earlier, representing a decline of 32.1 per cent.

Revenue equally declined to N10.548 billion during the period under review from N11.658 billion in 2018, amounting to a decrease of 9.52 per cent.

 

 

According to analysts at Investment-One Research, moving down to the P& L line, a combination of the jump in OPEX/Sales to 40.40 per cent in Q2 2019 from 36.17 per cent in Q2 2018, a 26.59 per cent y/y decline in other income and a 46.25 per cent y/y increase in net finance cost added to the impact of the weaker gross profit margin. As a result, PBT margin fell to 26.98 per cent in Q2 2019 from 45.12 per cent in Q2 2018 and PBT declined by 40.50 per cent y/y to N1.36 billion in Q2 2019.

“On a sequential basis, turnover fell by 8.42 per cent q/q due to lower prices in the third quarter of the year with average price of crude palm oil declining by 5.16 per cent q/q in Q2 2019.

“In the same vein, gross profit margin declined to 74.00 per cent in Q2 2019 from 85.07 per cent in Q1 2019, which may be due to lower prices. That said, the jump in OPEX/sales to 40.40 per cent in Q2 2019 from 30.00 per cent in Q1 2019 and the fall in gross profit margin offset the impact of a 15.15 per cent q/q fall in net finance cost. As a result, PBT margin fell to 26.98 per cent in Q2 2019 from 45.81 per cent in Q1 2019 and PBT shed 46.06 per cent q/q to N1.36 billion.

 

“In the first half of the year, turnover remained under pressure due to lower Crude Palm oil price. As such, revenue shed 9.52 per cent to N10.55 billion in H1 2019. Similarly, gross profit margin declined by 82bpsy/y to 79.78 per cent during the same period. In the same vein, the jumped in OPEX/ Sales by 682bps and a 65.47 per cent rise in net finance cost drove the PBT margin down to 46.01per cent in H1 2019 from 49.05 per cent in H1 2018. Similarly, PBT fell by 32.10  per cent y/y to N3.88 billion in H1 2019.

Forward looking

 

Chairman of Presco Plc, Pierre Vandebeeck, said that if the Federal Government’s strategy to partner the private sector as parts of its youths engagement initiative to cultivate no fewer than one million hectares of oil palm succeeds, the country would regain its number one position as the major producer and supplier of palm oil in the world.

Vandebeeck stated this during the 26th Annual General Meeting, AGM, of the company to review its operations for the year 2018, noting that the management of the company had proposed N2 billion to be shared as dividends by the shareholders.

Vandebeeck, however, said the year under review was a difficult one, especially with abuse by several persons of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme, ETLS, but that the company was able to weather the storm and kept afloat.

 

He said: “We are nursing a very good relationship with our neighbours, they have given us peace and our CSR is one of the best. It has been recognised by many stakeholders in the country and we came number one.

“We are working together with the Federal Government to structure a huge oil palm programme of no fewer than one million hectares and if this comes through, Nigeria will regain its former place as the major supplier of palm oil to the world. Today as you know, we are importing about a million tons per annum, it is not a very enviable position but the future looks bright with the assistance of the Federal Government.”

To analysts at Investment-One, going forward, “we expect the company to continue to benefit from the government’s exclusion of importers of crude palm oil from the official foreign exchange market, which has been a barrier to importation of crude palm oil thus preserving the market for local big players like Okomu and Presco.

 

“In the same vein, we expect the company’s 15,000 hectares expansion project to continue to support its top line growth within the medium to long term. The company did plantation on 4,000hectares in 2018 and intends to do plantation on another 4,000 hectares in 2019. In the same vein, the expected improvement in consumer spending in H2 2019, could improve demand for crude palm oil particular for the production of other consumer goods.

“Nonetheless, the current decline in price of crude palm oil may continue to weigh on gross profit margin and turnover growth in the near term. Similarly, the volatility in revaluation gain on biological assets is a concern considering the impact it could have on the company’s PBT performance.”

Last line

Downgrading palm oil as a result of crude oil discovery was a big blunder that will continue to haunt Nigeria. The authorities have to come up with an innovative policy to encourage palm oil producing firms.

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Nigeria’s palm oil imports soar to N256.7bn

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Nigeria’s palm oil imports soar to N256.7bn

Bayo Akomolafe

H

igh demand by consumers has pushed up the price of Malaysian crude palm oil by 68.9 per cent within the last three months.

Also, the price of the produce has affected the business negatively in Nigeria by 26.3 per cent.

 

Findings revealed that importers have ferried a total of 340, 068 metric tonnes of the crude palm oil valued at N256.7 billion ($713.12 million) into the country between January 2018 and September 2019 from Malaysian.

Apart from Malaysia, importers also source the produce from Thailand, and Indonesia and India to meet industrial and domestic demand in the country.

According to Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB), new price of the produce is $2,097 instead of $674 because of the competition in the global market.

As at May this year, MPOB explained that it had kept its export duty on crude palm oil at zero per cent because of stiff competition among the Asian exporting countries.

 

Due to this, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA)’s shipping data revealed that 82,210 tonnes of the produce were imported between June and August 2019.

This week, the data also revealed that 16,000 tonnes of the produce have arrived the Apapa Bulk Terminal Limited (ABTL), Lagos Port at the weekend.

 

Despite the produce being among the list of 41 items restricted from accessing the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) foreign exchange, NPA’s shipping data further indicated that the 248,388 metric tonnes of crude palm oil were ferried to the country between January and May, 2019.

Currently, palm oil imports attract 10 per cent duty and 25 per cent levy in the country.

 

It was learnt that within the period, Navig8 Universe berthed at Apapa Bulk terminal Limited (ABTL) with 20,000 tonnes of the produce, while Alangova and Rosy discharged 9,500tonness and 10,200 tonnes in the terminal respectively at the terminal in February.

Other vessels, which berthed at theABTL of the Lagos Port Complex, include Africa Runner5 laden with 5,195 tonnes; Lustsen, 5,717 tonnes; Kerel, 16,400 tonnes and Chembulk Houston, moored at New Oil Jetty with 5, 028 tonnes.

In May this year, Malaysia and Thailand exporters slashed the price of crude palm oil as demand for the commodity increased in the country but was suddenly increased in September.

Between 2017 and 2018 Nigeria annual consumption of palm was 2.7 million tonnes.

 

Meanwhile, CBN had assured that Nigeria would emerge as the third largest producer of palm oil in the world.

CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, said recently that the country would have recorded great heights in capital returns and job creation if the country had supported improved cultivation of palm oil like the rest of the world.

Emefiele told stakeholders in Abuja recently that plans were underway to develop sustainable financing models for the country’s oil palm.

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Gas: FG heightens hunt as funding apathy rocks $12bn project

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Gas: FG heightens hunt as funding apathy rocks $12bn project

Buhari, Sylva mull Russia, Saudi visit

 

 

T

he Federal Government, at the weekend, heightened hunt for investors as funding apathy rocks the over $12 billion Trans Sahara Gas Pipeline (TSGP).

The TSGP, launched in 1970s, is to transport gas from Nigeria through Algeria to Spain.

 

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, who gave the hint about the funding challenge for the major international gas pipeline, maintained, according to a document, that President Muhammadu Buhari was scheduled for a trip to Russia and Saudi Arabia to, among other things, search for investment.

Sylva, the document of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC)’s read, said he would accompany the president – who also serves as the senior oil minister – on the planned visits to Russia and Saudi Arabia.

“These foreign visits will include discussions on the AKK plan,” he said.

 

Sylva had on October 15 held a meeting with ICRC’s Director General, Chidi Izuwah, on the issue.

The primary area for such co-operation would be on gas pipeline construction.

The $12 billion TSGP, expected to help Nigeria achieve zero gas flaring by 2020, remains an illusion, 17 years after it was conceived. The project should have been completed last year.

Nigeria signed a treaty with Niger and Algeria in 2009 to build the pipeline, which should begin from Calabar and pass through Kano to the border.

 

The estimated length is about 4,400 km, with over 1,037 km in Nigeria, 853 km in Niger, 2,310 km in Algeria and 220 km connecting Algeria to Spain.

In 2013, the Federal Government approved a budget of $400 million for commencement, but some national and international companies that showed interest, including Total and Gazprom, grew pessimistic on security along the pipeline route. They also worried about increasing costs.

The idea of the trans-Saharan pipeline was first proposed in the 1970s. On January 14, 2002, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Algerian national oil and gas company, Sonatrach, signed the Memorandum of Understanding for preparations of the project.

In June 2005, NNPC and Sonatrach signed a contract with Penspen Limited for a feasibility study of the project. The feasibility study was completed in September 2006, and it found the pipeline to be technically and economically feasible and reliable.

On the meeting on February 20, 2009, NNPC and Sonatrach agreed to proceed with the draft memorandum of understanding between three governments and the joint venture agreement. The intergovernmental agreement on the pipeline was signed by energy ministers of Nigeria, Niger and Algeria on July 3, 2009, in Abuja.

 

 

Safety concerns about the operations have been heightened due to the In Aménas hostage crisis of 2013. Nigeria, Niger and Algeria are among the least secure areas in the region because of various active terrorist movements that destabilise them.

Mèanwhile, the delay in taking the Final Investment Decision (FID) on Olokola Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Brass LNG and the Nigeria LNG Train 7 project hindered commitment by financiers.

The investors are aware that Nige ria is currently facing the challenge of meeting its gas obligation to neighbouring African countries through the West Africa Gas Pipeline Company, due to insecurity in the Niger Delta.

The Chief Infrastructure Officer, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, Adamu Umar, confirmed that the project was yet to move beyond the first stage.

 

 

According to him, the promoters are in charge of the situation, stressing that all necessary approvals have been granted. The investors, according to him, are consortiums of Nigerian and Chinese companies.

But an associate researcher at the Africa and Energy Programmes of the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), Benjamin Auge, is of the view that the project could remain a dream for much longer.

He said: “On analysis of all the elements of the route and the geopolitical realities, it appears that there are more reasons to believe that the pipeline will not be constructed in the near future.

“On topography, there would certainly be a few difficulties that would weigh down on the cost of the project. An example is the Hoggar Mountains. But this would not be impossible for specialised companies. A study of the solutions proposed by the developers confronted by this sort of obstacles should wait until a final choice is made on the route.

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