Nigeria’s tier-1 bank, Zenith Bank Plc, has announced that it plans to intensify effort in the area of retail banking this 2019, by lending more to SMEs and households; albeit at affordable interest rates too.
The company’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Peter Amangbo, who made the disclosure yesterday in Lagos, emphasized that the bank is really determined to increase in its loan book in 2019.
He acknowledged that the Nigerian banking industry witnessed a slow down in loan growth last year, a situation that has been forecast to reoccur in 2019.
But the bank is trying to avoid being affected. And one of the ways it plans to do this is by lending to the low and middle-income people and businesses.
“We just talked about the loan volume going down in the industry but we are now looking at other areas. If the big ones are not taking loans you won’t fold your hands because those deposits that you are holding, the deposits can even sink a bank.
“So we are looking for other outlets. We are developing our retail end of the market and we are being very aggressive about that. We believe that is an area with a lot of potential. We are looking at individuals, households, small businesses. We are reaching out to them with credit facilities, whether to pay school fees or to meet some obligations pending payment of their salaries or whether to develop their small businesses.”
The CEO also noted that the move would be good for the targeted market and the economy at large.
But most importantly, it is a good move for the leading financial services provider, which is making efforts to change its perception as an elitist bank.
Note that Zenith Bank is not the only bank that has expressed demonstrated interest in small loans to households and SMEs. Just recently, First Bank of Nigeria Limited rolled out its wire array of services for schools, which basically provides credit facilities to schools and parents.
Zenith Bank Plc is one of Nigeria’s most profitable banks. As we reported, the company made the most profit in the Nigerian banking sector as at Q3 2018.
The company’s stock is currently trading at N20.30 on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
Novavax secures $1.6 billion funding for COVID-19 vaccine production
The fund is expected to help Novavax start a final-stage study of its vaccine candidate.
An American Vaccine Development Firm, Novavax Inc, one of the front runners in the race to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 treatment, will receive $1.6 billion funding from the United State government to support large scale manufacturing of coronavirus vaccine.
This represents the biggest contribution to the ‘Operations Warp Speed Program’, a public-private partnership initiative by the US government, to facilitate and accelerate the development, manufacturing and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.
Novavax in a statement said that the funds will allow the biotech firm to conduct advanced human studies and engage in manufacturing to deliver 100 million doses as soon as late 2020.
Novavax is among the companies trying to develop a vaccine against the novel coronavirus that has developed into a pandemic and spreading rapidly in countries like US, India and Mexico. The Operation Warp Speed Program has supported efforts of firms like Pfizer Inc, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna Inc, AstraZeneca Plc and Merck & Co, to get doses of the vaccine as early as possible.
READ MORE: New Covid-19 Cases reach all-time high – WHO
The fund is expected to help Novavax start a final-stage study of its vaccine candidate before the winter period, with as many as 30,000 people.
Novavax, had earlier secured as much as $388 million in May from the coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, the single largest contributions from the organization at that time. The biotech company’s vaccine candidate is to provoke the production of antibodies that prevent the spike protein which the coronavirus uses to infect host cells.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), drug manufacturing firms and university researchers are investigating more than 140 experimental vaccines. Moderna, Pfizer and the University of Oxford, in collaboration with AstraZeneca, are among the companies and institutions that have started studies of their vaccines in healthy patients.
Lagos Ferry Company targets 480,000 commuting passengers daily – MD
The administration is seeking ways to decongest the heavy Lagos traffic and using inland water transport.
The Managing Director of the Lagos Ferry Services Company (LAGFERRY) Mr AbdoulBaq Balogun says the company has a target of transporting 480,000 people daily on the waterways of Lagos State.
He made the comment in an online show called ”Covinspiration”.
He said, “As at June 30, we had operated for 77 days on inland waterways and moved 60,000 passengers”. Revealing that the company had 14 boats and was making efforts to expand operations with bigger ferries with the involvement of private investors.
Adding that the administration is seeking ways to decongest the heavy Lagos traffic and tapping into the potential of inland water transport.
“With about 1.6 million people moving on Lagos roads every day, we are being tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that we move at least 30 percent of these motorists off the roads through the waterways.
“That gives us about 480,000 passengers. So, moving 480,000 passengers is our daily target on the waterways of Lagos State.
“Mr Governor is focusing his energy on ensuring a multi-modal transport system with the abundance of water bodies we have. We are moving people and goods on pleasant experience through the inland waterways,” he said.
He said the company operates in all the 40 inland waterway routes, and expanded operations will decongest traffic from in the on Lekki Epe Expressway, Ikorodu road, the Third Mainland Bridge and Lagos-Badagry Expressway
The managing director said that traffic congestion on Lekki Epe Expressway, Ikorodu road, the Third Mainland Bridge, Lagos-Badagry Expressway would be minimized with LAGFERRY operations in those six routes.
“We are just coming on board, we are still testing the water, passengers are just coming to know us and we are still creating awareness.
“We have not reached our peak and we are yet to get to the optimum operational level. We want to expand the services of LAGFERRY to other routes and enhance productivity,” he said.
Update: Buhari suspends EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu from office
The suspension follows the investigation of allegations of gross misconduct against him on Monday.
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the suspension of the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, from office. The suspension follows the investigation of allegations of gross misconduct against him on Monday.
According to available information, Magu was suspended to allow for probe into allegations against him.
The EFCC boss appeared before a presidential probe panel headed by retired Justice Ayo Salami, who is investigating the allegations against him.
The latest development is coming a day after he was invited to face the Rtd Justice Ayo Salami led probe panel, to various allegations that had been levelled against him, which borders on misconduct and financial irregularities.
Meanwhile, the Presidency in reaction to the probe of Magu, declared that it shows that nobody under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is above scrutiny. A monitored report suggests that the investigation of the EFCC boss was to reinforce that this administration’s commitment to transparency and accountability, adding that the holder of such office must be above suspicion.
A monitored report states that the interrogation of Magu is to give him the opportunity to clear himself of the weighty allegations against him.
The Department of State Services (DSS), yesterday stated that contrary to claims in the media that the EFCC boss had been arrested, he was only invited by a presidential panel that was set up to review the activities of the EFCC.
According to the DSS, he was served the invitation to the panel, while on his way to the Force Headquarters, Abuja for a meeting, so he was neither arrested nor forced to honour the invitation.
The acting Chairman of EFCC appeared before the panel probing allegations of gross misconduct against him on Monday, July 6, 2020.