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Network operators earmark $8.5bn to bridge telecommunication gap

To bridge the telecommunication infrastructure gap in the country, Nigerian mobile network operators have earmarked $8.5 billion. The companies intend to invest this amount to meet the demand for telecommunication services across Nigeria.

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Telecommunication companies, Telecoms, Call tariffs, Taxes and levies, Then and now: Nigeria's telecommunication history , Nigerian Telecoms Connectivity Offerings Impact Nigerians More than Ever

To bridge the telecommunication infrastructure gap in the country, Nigerian mobile network operators have earmarked $8.5 billion for investment purposes. In specific terms, the companies intend to invest this amount to meet the demand for telecommunication services across Nigeria.

The network operators will invest the $8.5 billion in the next two years to improve telecommunication services and expand their reach. This investment represents an increase of $1.6 billion over the past two years.

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According to the Global System for Mobile communication Association (GSMA), the mobile Internet gap in the country is estimated at 30 percent. The association in its Mobile Economy West Africa 2019 Report, also disclosed that 29 percent of the Nigerian population are mobile Internet users.

In addition, the GSMA report revealed that about 41 percent of the Nigerian population have access to mobile network broadband, even though they do not subscribe to mobile Internet services.

“The improved macro-economic outlook for the sub-region, following the economic recession in Nigeria in 2016, bodes well for demand for telecoms services. Along with increasing investments in 4G networks, this will support capex growth over the medium term.

“From 2019 to 2020, mobile operators in the sub-region will spend $8.5bn on network infrastructure and services – an increase of $1.6bn over the previous two years.”

Social and economic benefits of the internet

The association’s analysts said there are social and economic benefits for individuals and communities who have access to the Internet. They added that the benefits are (but not limited to) improved business efficiency and increased access to life-enhancing services.

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Meanwhile, the GSMA report stated that at the end of 2018, there were around 100 million mobile Internet users in the region, representing an increase of 19 million over the previous year. This makes mobile the primary platform for accessing the Internet in West Africa.

Nigeria surpasses the average index score for Mobile Connectivity Index

Nigeria was among four countries that scored higher than the sub-Saharan Africa average index score in the Mobile Connectivity Index, the GSMA report disclosed.

The association stated that most countries in West Africa scored below the average index score for sub-Saharan Africa. However, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Cape Verde, and Ghana surpassed the average index score.

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Cote d’Ivoire is the most improved country in sub-Saharan Africa, having recorded significant improvements in infrastructure, affordability and content development. This improvement earned Cote d’Ivoire 9.2 points over three years in the Mobile Connectivity Index.

Challenges network operators face in deepening digital inclusion in West Africa

In GSMA’s assessment, network operators face several challenges when enhancing digital inclusion in West Africa. According to the report, cost of operation, inconsistent and distortive government regulation are some of the challenges.

“Extending coverage remains economically challenging given the high costs of increasing coverage and issues related to consumer demand. Inconsistent and distortive regulation from governments restricts public and private investment in connecting the unconnected.

“Overcoming these barriers will require focus, innovation and collaboration between the public and private sectors around solutions for extending network coverage into rural areas and stimulating demand for mobile Internet services among underserved populations.”

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Patricia

Olalekan is a certified media practitioner from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ). In the era of media convergence, Olalekan is a valuable asset, with ability to curate and broadcast news. His zeal to write was developed out of passion to shape people’s thought and opinion; serving as a guideline for their daily lives. Contact for tips: [email protected]

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Around the World

Shell considers relocating its headquarters to the UK

Royal Dutch Shell has consistently pushed for the Dutch Government to stop taxes on dividends.

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GLOBAL GAS vs SHELL: COURT SETS ASIDE AWARD OVER BREACH OF CONTRACT, Investors, shareholders shocked as Shell reduces dividend

Oil and gas giant, the Royal Dutch Shell, is considering moving its corporate headquarters from The Netherlands to Britain. This could be a move against the implementation of dividend tax in The Netherlands.

The move was disclosed by the oil company’s Chief Executive Officer, Ben Van Beurden, during an interview with a Dutch newspaper on Saturday, July 4, 2020. According to him, the oil giant is not ruling out relocating its headquarters from the Netherlands to Britain. He said:

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You always need to keep thinking. Nothing is permanent and of course we will look at the business climate. But moving your headquarters is not a trivial measure. You cannot think too lightly about that.”

Further confirming the Chief Executive Officer’s comment, a Shell spokesman told Reuters that the oil giant is looking at ways to simplify its dual structure, as it had been doing for many years.

Royal Dutch Shell has consistently pushed for the Dutch Government to stop the tax on dividend paid to shareholders, as this makes financing dividend, share buy-backs and acquisition a lot more difficult.

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An earlier attempt by the Dutch Government to stop the dividend tax as an incentive to convince Unilever to unify its dual structure in Rotterdam, was met with an outcry by the public, who see that as a gift to rich foreigners.

It can be recalled that Shell had announced a few days ago that it might likely write down between $15 billion-$22 billion in post impairment charges for the second quarter of 2020. The impairment, which is its largest since the merger with Shell Transport and Trading Company Ltd in 2005, shows the huge adverse impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on the oil giant’s businesses.

Also, in a move that shocked investors, Shell for the first time since the Second World War, cut down the dividend that it paid to its shareholders by two-thirds due to the negative impact of the pandemic. The decision came as a surprise to many including shareholders of the oil company which is by far the biggest payer of dividend in the FTSE 100.

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Coronavirus

Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi tests positive for COVID-19

Umahi has directed those who worked in the budget review for 2020 to immediately test for COVID-19.

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David Umahi, Ebonyi State workers will not get salaries for this reason

The Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi has tested positive for COVID-19, reported on Saturday afternoon.

Umahi’s Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Francis Nwaze, confirmed the news and also revealed that some associates of the governor also tested positive.

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He also said that the Governor is not showing any symptoms of the disease, though he has isolated himself in line with the NCDC protocols.

“The governor has directed his Deputy, Dr Kelechi, to coordinate the state’s fight against the disease and appealed to the citizens to take the NCDC protocols seriously.

READ MORE: Governors may push for 42% of federal allocation in new sharing formula

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“He will currently be working from ‘home’ and will be conducting all meetings virtually,” Nwaze added.

David Umahi becomes the sixth Nigerian governor to test positive for the disease, Governors of Kaduna, El- Rufai, Bauchi, Bala Mohammed and Oyo, Seyi Makinde have fully recovered while the recent cases have been the Governors of Ondo, Rotimi Akeredolu and Delta, Ifeanyi Okowa.

On Thursday, Governor Umahi announced that the state’s Executive Council was finalizing the budget review required by World Bank and said “most us broke down and are being treated of malaria.”

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He also directed those who worked in the budget review for 2020 to immediately test for COVID-19 and admitted he is expecting a second test result after he initially tested negative in March.

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Economy & Politics

Nigeria’s debt rises to $79.5 billion, as debt to revenue ratio worsens

According to data obtained from DMO, $27.66 billion (N9.9 trillion) is the total external debt.

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Nigeria's Debt to revenue ratio, DMO suspends April 2020 FGN savings bond offer

Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy’s total public debt rose to $79.5 billion (N28.63 trillion) as of the first quarter of 2020, which is March 31, 2020. This represents a 15% increase from the figure that was recorded for the corresponding period in 2019, which was about $69.09 billion (N24.94 trillion).

This was disclosed in a latest publication by the Debt Management Office (DMO) on Friday June 3, 2020.

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Nigeria has seen its debt stock rise sharply in recent years as the country tries to fund infrastructural and developmental projects and boost its fragile economy, which has been in and out of recession. The country’s economy has been projected to fall into recession again, due to the adverse impact of COVID-19 that has seen oil prices crash globally.

According to data obtained from DMO, $27.66 billion (N9.9 trillion) is the total external debt. This represents 34.89% of the total public debt stock. Whereas, $51.64 billion (N18.64 trillion) is the total domestic debt, which represents 65.11% of the total public debt.

READ MORE: Nigeria borrows N754 billion in 3-month, total debt now N25.7 trillion  

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The Federal Government accounts for 50.77% of the total domestic debt, which is $40.26 billion (N14.53 trillion), whereas the State Governments and Federal Capital Territory account for 14.34% of the total domestic borrowing which is $11.37 billion (N4.11 trillion).

Nigeria has been under a lot of fiscal crisis following the crash of oil prices triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. The oil sector accounts for about 90% of the country’s foreign exchange earnings and about 60% of its total revenue.

The country, which had lined up a series of debt issue this year, had to halt the external commercial borrowing due to oil price collapse. The Minister for Finance, Zainab Ahmed, had last week disclosed that the country would no longer go ahead with its Eurobond debt issue.

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READ ALSO: Lagos debt hits N39.6 billion, to borrow N97 billion more

The Nigerian government, for now, is focusing on the domestic markets and concessionary loans to help fund the 2020 budget deficit which is made worse by drop in revenue. In the recently approved 2020 revised budget, the federal government is expected to borrow N850 billion from the domestic market.

This rising debt has put a lot of pressure on the government’s resources as it spent $1.69 billion (N609,13 billion) to service its domestic debt in the first quarter of 2020 alone.

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Nairametrics had reported that Nigeria’s global rating is at risk due to the sharp rise in the country’s sovereign debt and a growing finance gap. According to a report from the global rating agency, Fitch Ratings, this could trigger a rating downgrade as policymakers struggle to stimulate growth and deal with the impact of low oil prices and sharp drop in revenue.

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According to Fitch, the country’s debt to revenue ration is set to deteriorate further to 538% by the end of 2020, from the 348% that it was a year earlier.

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