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‘Master plan initiative driving Nigeria’s growth’

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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has disclosed that the implementation of its 10-year Capital Market Master Plan is already contributing to growth and development of the Nigerian capital market, and by extension, the economy.

This was disclosed by the Acting Director General of SEC, Ms. Mary Uduk, yesterday, during the opening ceremony of a two-day international capital market conference in Lagos.

The event is organised by the commission in collaboration with University of Lagos.

Uduk described the theme of the conference, “Leveraging the Capital Market for Economic Growth and Development,” as apt and timely, given the pressing need to grow the nation’s economy and achieve sustainable development.

According to her, “there is no doubt that the capital market can serve as a key catalyst for Nigeria’s economic growth and development, as it offers a credible platform for obtaining long- term financing. As we all know, long-term and affordable funds are required for businesses to thrive and in turn contribute to employment, growth and development.

“Beyond capital market’s contribution to economic growth, we aim at the larger goal of economic development. Added to increased production, the latter entails advancement in the quality of life and living standards of citizens in areas such as improvements in literacy, health and life expectancy, better savings/investment culture, financial inclusion, as well as improved wealth distribution, housing and environment”.

The acting DG stated further that capital markets across the world had products and mechanisms to stimulate economic growth and development.

She said although many of such products were available in Nigeria, there were aspects that are still untapped, thereby limiting the realisation of the nation’s potential.

“One major initiative to tap this potential was the development of a 10-year Capital Market Master Plan (CMMP), launched by the commission in 2014. The plan has over 100 initiatives to spring–board the Nigerian capital market as one of the world’s deepest and most liquid, as well as the largest in Africa by 2025.

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Imo: Unveiling Ihedioha’s roadmap for agriculture

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Imo: Unveiling Ihedioha’s roadmap for agriculture

Governor Emeka Ihedioha of Imo State is set to recapture the once blossoming agriculture sector in the state by unveiling new roadmap in anticipation of the self-sufficient revolution. Steve Uzoechi reports

 

 

Prior to the creation of Imo State in 1976, the major industries that kept the people and the society viable were agriculture and education. To a large extent, agriculture funded and gave impetus to qualitative education.

Against this backdrop, successive regimes – military and civilian – laid great emphasis on agriculture. This at some point resulted in the state establishing colleges of agriculture and other related institutions to promote agricultural research, imbibe globally accepted best practices and ultimately maximize agricultural productivity.

At the time, the agro-benefit focal areas were food security, employment, foreign exchange earnings, poverty reduction and production of raw materials for local industries.

Return to democracy

Expectations were high that the return to democracy and constitutional governance would create a suitable environment and provide the agricultural sector of the Nigerian economy with the needed leap in food productivity.

However, the return to democracy in 1999 saw agriculture making staggered steps in most areas, taking a plunge from target driven agriculture to politically convenient agriculture.

For Imo State, that sharp drift in agricultural development hit a crescendo when Rochas Okorocha assumed office as the governor of the state in 2011. His apparent disinclination to agriculture led to many of the viable agricultural institutions and farm settlements winding down.

In this past decade, agriculture became fully relegated to the background with very poor farmers restricting themselves to only subsistent farming just to produce what they can consume within their small family units.

Slump in agriculture

In Imo State, this reality has over the years had a horrendous impact on the economy and lifestyle of the people as a whole.

Within the period, the state government distanced itself from the Agricultural Development Programme (ADP); put a stop to funding the agency and largely refused to take interest in the activities of the agency.

That was the beginning of the end of agricultural extension services as the ADP became more occupied with self-preservation and survival of its personnel as government was no longer willing to fund or support its programmes and initiatives.

By that policy action of the Okorocha administration, agriculture in Imo took a major hit and farmers bore the brunt.

A lawyer and prominent farmer from the rice belt area of the state, Chief Uche Ohia, had said: “The Okorocha led administration practically turned its back on farmers in Imo State generally and rice farmers particularly. First, there was no agricultural policy. There was no forthright direction of agric development. Like everything else associated with that administration, it was the whims and caprices of the chief executive that determined what was said or done in the state. Farmers made no input in agricultural development during his tenure.

“In the circumstance, whatever the administration tried to do or pretended to do for agriculture was salutary and aimed at playing to the gallery. A government that failed to pay any counterpart fund – not to the Bank of Industry, not to the Bank of Agriculture, not to any international development agency – how can such a government make any positive impact on agriculture? How could it positively affect the life of farmers or boost productivity?

“The stories of fertilizer subsidy, the ‘Imo rice’ were clearly farcical. Those of us that are commercial farmers that persevered lost a fortune. All Okorocha was interested in was land to acquire for his own personal interests and development, no more no less. To say the least, the Okorocha administration was a disaster as far as agriculture was concerned in this state.”

Expectation

Ohia noted, however, that farmers in the state were looking forward to an interface with the new government so that farmers can make inputs from a practical perspective, which will enable the state government integrate theory and practice in its policy formulation and implementation.

He further stressed: “In any country that has made a success of agriculture, one underlying factor is government subvention. Government must support farmers to enhance productivity so that food security can be achieved. Imo farmers are lagging behind in several indices because the agricultural revolution which the Federal Government has been funding is yet to take place in Imo State. The present administration appears poised to make it happen.”

New pathway to agric devt

It was apparently in the light of this prevalent outcry and in pursuit of his resolve to harness the state’s agricultural potential that Governor Ihedioha of launched his Agricultural Roadmap for Imo. This, to many, represents a comprehensive framework for self-sufficiency in food production, both for domestic consumption and for exports purposes.

This roadmap, a major component of the governor’s Rebuild Imo agenda, is expected to lift Imo State from the morass of underdevelopment and despair to a blooming height in productivity across the entire agricultural value chain.

According to the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Agricultural Development, Mr. Uche Odozor, some of the key impact areas the new initiative will focus on include oil palm, ginger, cassava, soya beans, cashew, pig farming, bee keeping, rice, maize, tilapia, water melon, cucumber, aquaculture, mushrooms, fresh vegetables, pineapple, dairy farming, goat farming, shea butter business, Isabella grape and agro-based e- commerce.

The central objective of the policy, according to the governor, is to make Imo State the centre of agriculture and agro-processing in Nigeria by increasing agricultural productivity through promoting technical progress and ensuring rational development of agricultural production and the optimum utilisation of the factors of production, with particular reference to labour.

Also, the policy involves ensuring a rapid improvement in the standard of living for the agricultural community in particular by increasing the individual earnings of persons engaged in agriculture; and to assure the availability of supplies as well as ensuring that supplies reach consumers at reasonable prices.

On how to achieve these, Odozor explained: “Governor Ihedioha believes that the situation in Imo deserves revolutionary and aggressively intelligent approach so that speedy recovery could happen for the benefit of the people.

“People must be empowered and removed from poverty. Wealth must be created in communities. Food must be amply available for local consumption and for export to other communities and abroad for foreign exchange earnings. Agriculture must once again become the core pillar and pride of our economy.”

“The current situation of gross incapacitation in agriculture must be converted into a palpable testimony that brings joy to the people and pride to the nation.

“To the governor, everything that should be done, would be built on inclusive agricultural productivity growth; improved nutritional outcomes; enhanced livelihood for people and foreign exchange income earning capacity.”

To demonstrate how detailed and efficient the agro-policy action would be, Odozor hinted that the new agricultural roadmap would demand the data capture of the people across the 27 local government areas of the state within the next one month, with a target of at least 500,000 active members in the first tranche.

Policy thrust

In addition, the Governor Ihedioha -led administration is committed to ensure that it partners with relevant government agencies in agric development as part of its new policy thrust for the state to ensure that more farmers are empowered to realise abundant food supply for its indigenes.

The governor explained that Bank of Industry and Bank of Agriculture were going to play critical role in the state’s agric policy thrust during his administration.

Last line

With these lofty ambitions, Imo would be expected to be the hub of agro-investment and a thriving food basket for Nigeria and the African sub-region. Particularly, the current government is passionate and optimistic that with the new roadmap on agriculture, Imo is heading to becoming one of the major contributors of non-oil exports in Nigeria; and to achieve a productive industrial base for Nigeria as well as living up to its status as the Eastern Heartland.

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Labour seeks pact to rid Lagos of sex workers

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Labour seeks pact  to rid Lagos of sex workers

Following the shocking appearance of sex workers during the last Workers’ Day rally in Lagos, organised labour, under the aegis of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Lagos State Council, is taking steps to collaborate with Lagos State Government, non-governmental organisations and other relevant agencies to re-orientate the sex workers and gradually rid the state of the ignoble profession.

Disclosing this to New Telegraph, the Chairman of NLC in the state, Comrade Agnes Funmilayo Sessi, said it was embarrassing for the young ladies to come out boldly during the parade coupled with the fact that their union is not affiliated to any of the recognised labour centres.

Sessi, who lamented the audacity of the sex workers, said: Basically, the work of NLC is to organise all its affiliate unions. The sex workers are not part of our affiliate unions. So I am sure government has not given permission for sex workers to be a registered trade union, but even if government permits that, I am so sure NLC will not allow such a trade union among its affiliates.

“Having said that, last year May1, when we had Workers’ Day, we were so shocked that we saw a group of very well dressed and good looking ladies, and it was not until we mounted the podium to acknowledge all the trade unions that marched past in from of the governor when we saw this group of ladies march past us and we saw their banners bearing ‘sex working is their right and all what not.

“We were shocked. All other trade unions that marched past us, we waved our hands and acknowledged them. But immediately we saw them, we dropped our hands because it was a thing of shock to us. You know anything that goes wrong in that circle they will mention NLC. It wasn’t only NLC that was there, TUC was there and we also had security personnel there, and I was looking out, probably the security agencies would challenge them as to how they got themselves to that place because we never invited any group like that.

“It is only our affiliates that have the right to come on that day because we are actually celebrating the workers but sex workers are not part of us. But earlier as I have said, I am a woman, I am a mother, and a wife; and I am a social change agent in our society. Probably these people are being organised by other group of people. I don’t know if there is anyone trying to take advantage of these vulnerable girls, but on our own, we are not to judge anybody, we are not to condemn, rather, we like to be social change agents because they are also children of some parents.”

Describing the girls as prodigal children that need reabsorption into a decent lifestyle, brought back to their senses with change in orientation and perception about life, she pointed out that some of them might have taken the decision due to economic hardship.

According to her, “some might be as a result of bad association, and some because of the bad foundation they had. We contribute, not only to the workforce but also to ensure there is stability in the economy, so we ensure as NLC that the society is rid of every evil. So we try to bridge the gap between the failures in the government side, the failures on the family side and try to reorganize or reorient ate the minds of these young ones. We can with love and correction add value to their life and regain them to positive living. We don’t want to condemn them in totality because we cannot throw the baby away with the bathe water.

“We will partner with some NGOs and some bodies with the capacity to counsel them and to also add value to their lives. NGOs that can engage them in positive ways, train them in whichever trade they might choose. However, in doing this the recalcitrant ones who don’t want to change might have themselves to blame. We will not totally condemn them but to re-orientate them.”

To effect the process, she disclosed that the congress would seek audience with the state governor to discuss it as the union does not have the capacity to do it alone.

“We want to partner with government and NGOs. So as soon as government gives us the listening ear then we commence the process. We also want to identify those taking advantage of them, and if there is need for them to be prosecuted so that these young ones can be liberated and then they can find a decent way of life and be usef to themselves and the country. So it’s going to be a three way thing, the government, Labour and the NGO. Let us all come together, even the churches and mosques should not be left out,” she noted.

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‘Poachers smuggle N365m worth of pangolin from Nigeria’

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‘Poachers smuggle N365m worth of pangolin from Nigeria’

Investigations have revealed that this year alone, smugglers have illegally exported pangolin scales weighing a combined 33.9 tonnes worth over $100 million (N365 million) to Asia via Nigerian ports.

A survey conducted by wildlife trade watchdog, TRAFFIC, revealed that porous borders, lax law enforcement, corruption around the Nigerian ports helped criminal networks in Nigeria corner most of the African trade in pangolins, considered to be the world’s most trafficked mammal.

It explained that the combined 33.9 tonnes worth more than $100 million shipment to Hong Kong and Singapore this year by smugglers were intercepted.

The watchdog organisation noted that less than a quarter of major pangolin seizures from Africa came via Nigeria in 2016 and by 2018, it jumped to almost two-thirds and three-quarters of the total weight seize linked to Nigeria.

“Traffickers like Nigeria more than anywhere else, they prefer to go there because it makes it easier for them to export,” said Eric Kaba Tah, deputy director of wildlife law enforcement group, The Last Great Ape Organisation, based in Cameroon.

“The situation for pangolins is becoming more and more serious and even more dangerous,” said Tah, who has helped crack down on the trade in Cameroon, one of the other main pangolin trafficking routes to Asia, it was quoted by TRAFFIC.

It added that other African countries known for pangolin trafficking such as Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda have all clamped down on the illicit trade and are now pushing pangolin traffickers towards Nigeria.

The watchdog agency explained that pangolin meat is considered a delicacy in some Asian markets and the hard keratin scales – the stuff of human fingernails and rhino horns – are dried, ground into powder, and used in medicines in China to treat ailments such as poor lactation, sores and rheumatism.

Demand for African pangolins in countries such as China and Vietnam has been growing as the number of Asian pangolins has dwindled over the years, to the point where two of the four Asian species are now on the critically endangered list.

The other two are endangered and all four African species of pangolin were classed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature when all commercial trade in pangolins, also known as scaly anteaters, was banned in 2016.

“At the rate at which pangolins are being traded and poached, it could take two decades for the mammal to be extinct,” said Ray Jansen, Chairman of the African Pangolin Working Group in Pretoria.

However, the Nigeria Customs Service disagreed over the allegation, saying that trafficking of the mammals had reduced in Nigeria.   

An official of Nigeria Customs Service, Assistant Comptroller, Mutalib Sule, said the belief that Nigeria had become a pangolin trading hub was not true.

He argued that pangolin trafficking through the ports was on the decline.

“There is effort at the borders to ensure that such things do not come in again. No country had been able to stamp out smuggling altogether. Sometimes Nigeria is just a point of convergence,” he said.

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FX restriction: Dairy product import drops by 25.19%

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FX restriction: Dairy product import drops by 25.19%

Following the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s restriction on foreign exchange for importation of certain products, Nigeria has witnessed a 25.19 per cent drop in importation of dairy products from New Zealand and three other countries.

The country imported N211 billion ($578. 97 million) worth of the product between 2017 and 2018.

Findings by New Telegraph revealed that the sharp drop had to do with CBN’s policy on foreign exchange restriction on the product, as data by International Trade Statistics (ITS) show that the country imported $331.19 million worth of the product in 2017 and $247.78 million in 2018.

According to details of the ITS data, New Zealand export dropped by 9.4 per cent from $122.4 million to $110.9 million, while that of Netherlands declined by 41.97per cent from $107.94 million to $62.6 million.

Also, Germany recorded 32.01per cent drop in its export to Nigeria from $64.4 million to $43. 79 million, while 16.47 per cent crash was recorded by Ireland from $36.41 million to $30.42 million.

Despite the decline, demand for skim milk powder from Netherlands and Denmark has increased by 43 per cent due to deficit in local milk production.

Nigeria currently has a deficit of 600,000 tonnes of skimmed milk valued at N558.6 billion (1.55 billion euro). The dairy sector’s capacity is estimated at 700,000 tonnes or 53.85 per cent of the domestic demand of 1.3 million metric tonnes.

Findings had revealed that the price of skim milk powder, which was 2,300 euro per tonne in 2017, had remained at 2,217euro per tonne between March and December, 2018 before it was reviewed downward in order to avoid stock accumulation.

About two months ago, CBN initiated moves to implement ban on forex access to milk importers. 

According to a document sighted by New Telegraph, the regulator directed banks in the country to stop the processing of milk and its related products on “Bills for Collection basis,” which allowed the importer to buy on credit.

In a circular addressed to the banks, CBN also announced that the mode of payment with regard to the importation of milk and its related products must be on the basis of Letters of Credit (LC) only.

According to a letter sighted by New Telegraph, an email a Tier 1 lender sent to its customers included the directive as part of CBN’s efforts aimed at streamlining payment modes for food imports.

Between 2015 and 2017, importation of skim milk from Europe slumped by 34 per cent because of earlier foreign exchange policy by the apex bank. It, however, picked again in 2018.

The United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) exporters’ guides on Nigeria imports had revealed that the country was in short supply of about 600,000 metric tonnes, stressing that Nigeria was a massive market for European milk.

It added that the country’s dairy market had a potential of $3 billion in excess.

Also, USDA explained that two of the European Union’s most important markets for milk powders, Netherlands and Denmark, had significantly increased their exports to Nigeria because of high demand by consumers.

“Condensed milk and dried milk powder are mostly used and account for approximately 50per cent of each product,” USDA noted.

Last year, the former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, said that milk worth $1.2 billion was being imported into the country yearly.

He lamented that an average cow in the country produced less than one litre of milk per day, compared to other countries where a cow could produce 100 litres per day.

In  order to bridge the gap, in 2017, the President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, said that he would take charge of 50,000 cows by 2019 in order to produce 500,000 tonnes (500 million litres) of milk per year.

The company said that it would invest $800 million in dairy production in the next three years.

Also, as part efforts to tackle milk shortage in the country, in 2015, an Irish company, Ornua, formerly known as Irish Dairy Board, opened a new packing facility in Nigeria to generate sales of 3billion euro dairy products. The company explained that it took the decision to capture the milk market in the sub-region.

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TUC tasks FG’s economic team on diversification

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As Nigeria marks her 59th Independence anniversary, organised labour under the aegis of Trade Union Congress [TUC] has advised the newly created Economic team to work towards diversifying the economy for growth.

Lamenting the backwardness the country had been through in the last 59 years compared with countries like China and India, the labour centre in a statement signed by its President, Comrade Quadri Olaleye, and Secretary General, Comrade (Barr.) Musa-Lawal Ozigi, mni, advised the team to work to diversify the economy so the teaming youths can be gainfully engaged.

According to the congress, “if there were jobs in Nigeria, our youths will not migrate in droves to other countries in search for greener pasture.

“It is saddening that our children die in different oceans in an attempt to cross over to Europe. Only recently hundreds of young men and women were forcefully ejected from South Africa; it is same with India, Ghana, Kenya, etc. That should not be.

“In the same vein, the team must take into cognizance the fact that we are now members of African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

“Government must not toy with the key objective of the agreement; else Nigeria will become a dumping ground.  The world is a global village but every country jealously protects its corner, which is why they weigh options before partaking in agreements such as this.”

On the new minimum wage, it expressed displeasure that months after the National Minimum Wage Committee set up by the Federal Government to work on the new wage had submitted their report, government was still not committed to paying the new wage.

The congress said: “We are beginning to think that signing it in the first place was because of the 2019 General elections. To talk about setting up another Committee over the same issue makes us feel we have been swindled. We have learnt our lessons.

“The argument on the part of government has always been that there is no money to pay minimum wage whereas lawmakers have budgeted N5.6 billion to purchase automobile that are not produced in Nigeria.

“Our belief is that government can actually pay if only the cost of governance will be reduced. As long as some people continue to feel that they are more Nigerian and therefore should enjoy more than others we cannot have a sane society.”

It also lamented the widespread insecurity, saying that various forms of agitations have become a major threat to lives and properties.

According to TUC, it has even discouraged potential investors, especially foreigners. The billions of naira that should be invested to create jobs and build infrastructure are yearly budgeted for arms and ammunition, yet there appear to be no end in sight.

“We are beginning to think that there are people feeding from our insecurity challenge. This must be investigated and culprits brought to book. In the last 10 years according to report, Boko Haram sect have killed about 27, 000 civilians and 24 aid workers. We have a dire situation in our hand.

“The war on agitations is arising from what some call marginalization. There is need for inclusiveness in governance. People should be given a sense of belonging. All the regions are still deficient in terms of basic infrastructure and therefore should be attended to.

“No country can make any significant progress where there is absence of justice and equity. A united Nigeria can truly be stronger than European Union but a lot depends on the leadership,” the statement added.

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NSE: Investors lose N102bn

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NSE: Investors lose N102bn

…as stocks fall for seventh day

 

The Nigerian equities market yesterday tumbled for seventh consecutive trading day as sell pressure remains unabated, producing 15 losers against 12 gainers.

Key market indicators, the NSE ASI, declined by 0.79 per cent as bargain hunters remained on the sideline, following growing investment apathy.

Consequently, the All-Share Index dipped 210 basis points or 0.79 per cent to close at 26,598.94 as against 26.809.92 recorded the previous day while market capitalisation of equities depreciated by N102 billion or 0.79 per cent to close at N12.948 trillion from N13.050 trillion.

Meanwhile, a turnover of 591 million shares exchanged in 2,907 deals was recorded in the day’s trading.

Other financial institution sub-sector was the most active during the day (measured by turnover volume), with 362.7 million shares exchanged by investors in 169 deals.

Volume in the sub-sector was largely driven by activities in the shares of Custodian and Investment Plc and United Capital Plc.

The premium sub-sector, boosted by activities in the shares of Access Bank Plc and Lafarge Africa Plc, followed with a turnover of 127.2 million shares traded in 1,019 deals.

Shares of Lafarge Africa Plc led the gainers chart, appreciating by 9.80 per cent to close at N1.12 per share. Cornerstone Insurance Plc and Chams Plc followed with a gain of 8.33 per cent each to close at 39 kobo and 26 kobo per share respectively while Jaiz Bank Plc gained 4.26 per cent to close at 49 kobo per share.

On the flip side, shares of PZ Cussons Nigeria Plc led the losers with 10 per cent to close at N6.30 per share. NCR Plc plunged 9.09 per cent to close at N4.50 per share while Guinness Nigeria Plc dropped 7.69 per cent to close at N30.00 per share.

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Budget: OPS hinges expectations on good socio-economic milieu

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Budget: OPS hinges expectations on good socio-economic milieu

As President Muhammadu Buhari finally presents the 2020 budget to a joint session of the National Assembly, members of the organised private sector under the auspices of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) have said that it will take good infrastructure and investment friendly policies for the implementation to be realized.

It noted that it would be a tall order for the economy to achieve a growth rate of 3.6 per cent in 2020 from its present 2.02 per cent recorded in the first half of 2019.

President of LCCI, Engr. Babatunde Ruwase, said in an interview with our correspondent, said it was not realistic for Nigeria’s GDP to achieve the growth rate because of inherent economic challenges that appear not to have solutions in sight.

The LCCI president explained that there were still volatility surrounding the country’s economic sphere, saying that infrastructure challenge, policy summersaults, lack of economic direction, regulatory challenges and many more were factors that will work against the country’s GDP growth rate in 2020.

President Buhari had said that sub-Saharan Africa was projected to grow from 3.1 per cent in 2018 to 3.6 per cent in 2020. This is driven by investor confidence, oil production recovery in key exporting countries, sustained strong agricultural production as well as public investment in non-dependent economies.

According to the LCCI boss, “it is a very tall order. Realistically, it is not going to be easy to move from the level we are now to the 3.6 per cent GDP growth rate projection for sub-Saharan Africa because the inherent challenges we have in the economy are still with us.

“Challenges like poor infrastructure, inconsistencies in  economic policy direction, regulatory challenges, policy summersaults and many more are still visible out there. So it is going to be difficult to achieve. I will be happy if we achieve it but, then the signs are not positive right.”

In his own reaction to the 2020 appropriation bill, the Director-General of the LCCI, Muda Yusuf, said that the key assumptions underpinning the budget were realistic except for the exchange rate assumption of N305 to the dollar.

This is one assumption, Yusuf, explained that is difficult to justify, especially at a time when declining revenue has become a major issue both for the government and the citizens.

He stated that the 2020 budget numbers underscored the need to be more innovative in boosting revenue, reducing leakages and ensuring that revenue generating agencies of government remit what is due to government.

Yusuf said: “We need to do things differently if we must get a different result. In view of the critical revenue situation reflected in the budget numbers and previous revenue performance, no effort should be spared to attract private capital for investment in key infrastructures that may consider bankable. This would reduce the financing gaps that currently exist.”

The LCCI director-general, however, stated that the private sector looked forward to the details of the finance bill proposed by the government in order to ensure appropriate engagement with the legislature before it passage into law.

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Global stocks edge up on trade truce bets

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Stocks gained on Wednesday on a report that China could yet agree to a partial trade deal with the United States despite recent tensions, while the prospect of a last-minute Brexit agreement between the European Union and Britain seemed as remote as ever.

Sterling was little changed against the dollar after losing nearly 1per cent over the past two sessions, while oil prices rose on trade optimism and after Turkey launched a military operatihere in northern Syria.

China is still open to agreeing to a partial trade deal, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, despite the recent U.S. blacklisting of Chinese technology firms and reports on visa restrictions from both sides.

“You don’t want to ignore headlines, but at the same time each headline seems to say the same thing – that both sides want to see something happen and both sides are encouraged that something may happen,” said Michael Lorizio, senior fixed income trader at Manulife Investment Management in Boston.

According to Reuters News, markets have been wobbly this month on more evidence that the U.S.-China conflict over trade is increasingly damaging the global economy. Stocks have been particularly sensitive to headlines regarding trade.

“There are expectations that some sort of an interim deal will emerge from these meetings,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.

“Investors certainly seem more hopeful now than they did two days ago.”

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 146.5 points, or 0.56 per cent, to 26,310.54, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 20.08 points, or 0.69 per cent, to 2,913.14 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 65.51 points, or 0.84 per cent, to 7,889.29.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.40 per cent and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe .MIWD00000PUS gained 0.39 per cent.

Emerging market stocks lost 0.17 per cent. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS closed 0.45 per cent lower, while Japan’s Nikkei .N225 lost 0.61 per cent.

Meanwhile, talks between the European Union and Britain over an agreement to cover London’s departure from the EU on Oct. 31 appeared to be going nowhere.

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Stakeholders seek sustainable fertiliser financing

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Stakeholders seek sustainable fertiliser financing

Key stakeholders in West Africa’s fertiliser sector are calling for more action to support the industry, which is central to the continent’s agricultural revolution.

The call came out of the first West Africa Fertiliser Financing Forum, organized by the African Fertiliser Financing Mechanism and partners, and held at the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Abidjan recently. 

A major outcome of the forum was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the West Africa Fertiliser Association and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The agreement aims to strengthen the fertiliser value chain in West Africa and set the scene for the implementation of the regional agenda on sustainable agriculture.

“After two intense days of discussions on concrete solutions, it is now time for us to follow up and make sure that what was said here becomes a reality,” said Marie Claire Kalihangabo, coordinator of the Africa Fertiliser Financing Mechanism, which was established by the bank in 2007.

Fertiliser is cited as one of the key components in the 2006 Abuja Declaration on Fertiliser for the African Green Revolution. At the time, Africa’s fertiliser use averaged only eight kilograms per hectare, or 10 per cent of the world’s average, leading to low productivity.

Financing remains one of the missing links for a robust agricultural value chain in West Africa, participants said. They also pointed out that fertiliser suppliers and distributors are facing several challenges when it comes to accessing financing through commercial banks and other financial institutions. The challenges include limited working capital, a low equity base and lack of trust.

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…Signs MoU with LuxSE on green bond

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…Signs MoU with LuxSE on green bond

The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and Luxembourg Stock Exchange (LuxSE) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to cooperate in promoting cross listing and trading of green bonds in Nigeria and Luxembourg.

The announcement was made at the signing ceremony led by NSE CEO, Oscar Onyema, and LuxSE CEO, Robert Scharfe.

The event took place yesterday during the annual meeting of the World Federation of Exchanges in Singapore.

The MoU further established an agreement for the two exchanges to collaborate with a view to sharing best practices and organising joint initiatives in their respective markets.

According to Onyema, “this collaboration reinforces NSE’s drive to foster the growth of sustainable finance in Nigeria, a journey that commenced with the launch of the first Sovereign Green Bond by NSE, in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Environment, Federal Ministry of Finance and the Debt Management Office.

“With the MoU, issuers will enjoy the benefit of increased visibility through the cross listing of their securities in Nigeria and Luxembourg.The partnership will further facilitate the growth of the Green Finance industry in Nigeria and ultimately deepen the Nigerian capital market through the mobilisation of the foreign green capital needed to fund sustainable projects in Nigeria.”

On his part, Scharfe said: “Sustainable finance is becoming a truly global movement. By joining forces with other exchanges to promote and facilitate green finance, we strive to accelerate the sustainable finance agenda and increase awareness of interest in investment projects that support the sustainable development that our world needs. We are pleased to cooperate with the Nigerian Stock Exchange to further strengthen sustainable finance in and between our markets.”

The Nigerian green bond market received international recognition following the issuance and listing on the NSE of the N10.69 billion Federal Government sovereign green bond in December 2017. The issuance sparked significant interest from the international and local capital market communities as it opened new investment opportunities, especially for domestic investors, to increase their exposure to financial instruments that generate social and environmental impact.

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