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FG risks another fine over alleged contract breaching 

There is a possibility that the Nigerian government may again be fined for the alleged breach of contract on Mambilla Hydroelectric project.

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African Development Bank, Process and Industrial Development, P&ID court case against Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari | Federal government, external debt serving

There is a possibility that the Nigerian government may again be fined for the alleged breach of contract on Mambilla Hydroelectric project. This development emerged following a $9 billion (N3.5 trillion) judgment against Nigeria, involving British Firm – Process and Industrial Developments Ltd (P&ID).  

The dispute: Messrs Sunrise Power and Transmission Company Limited (SPTCL) has instituted a legal action against the Nigerian government over the Mambilla project. 

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The plaintiffs claimed that it was awarded a $5.8 billion contract for the construction of the Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Project on the basis of Build, Operate and Transfer. 

According to the firm, after they were awarded the contract in 2003, some ‘vested interests’ in government in 2017 signed another contract with three Chinese companies, Sinohhydro Corporation of China, China Ghezouba Group Corporation of China and China Geo-Engineering Group Corporation, to form a joint venture for the execution of the same project. 

[READ MORE: Despite FG’s reduction, US refuses to drop hiked visa fees for Nigerians]

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The Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, was also mentioned in the controversy, as the company reportedly accused him of the unilateral decision to remove the company from the contract. Similarly, the former Minister of Power, Babatunde Fashola, was accused of not supporting the project, contrary to his promise.

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As a result of the breach of contract, the SPTCL dragged the government and its Chinese partners before the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris, France. 

What you should know: Mambilla hydropower project is a 3.05GW hydroelectric facility being developed on the Dongo River near Baruf, in Kakara Village of Taraba State, Nigeria. 

Expected to commence operation in 2030, Mambilla will be Nigeria’s biggest power plant, producing approximately 4.7 billion kWh of electricity a year. 

[READ MORE: FG bows to pressure, ready to negotiate with P&ID firm over $9 billion U.K judgement]

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The project is estimated to cost $5.8 billion and will generate up to 50,000 local jobs during the construction phase. 

Patricia

Famuyiwa Damilare is a trained journalist. He holds a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Mass Communication at the prestigious Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ). Damilare is an innovative and transformational leader with broad-based expertise in journalism and media practice at large. He has explored his proven ability in the areas of reporting, curating and generating contents, creatively establishing social media engagements, and mobile editing of videos. It is safe to say he’s a multimedia journalist.

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Hospitality & Travel

COVID-19: Virgin Atlantic files for bankruptcy

The airline is seeking protection under chapter 15 of the US bankruptcy code.

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Covid-19 crisis: Virgin Atlantic files for bankruptcy

The  British airline, Virgin Atlantic, has filed for bankruptcy as the global aviation industry continues to grapple with the devastating effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.

According to a report by Daily Mirror, this recent action is coming after Virgin Australia filed for voluntary administration, a type of bankruptcy, in April.

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An earlier appeal by the airline for a bailout from the British Government was turned down by ministers, leaving the airline in a race against time to secure new investment.

The airline’s boss, Sir Richard Branson, even offered to pledge his Caribbean holiday island Necker in exchange for investment.

In the meantime, the airline said it will most likely run out of cash by September.

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David Allison QC, for Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited, previously said: “The group’s financial position has been severely affected by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which has caused unprecedented disruption to the global aviation industry.’’

‘’Passenger demand has plummeted to a level that would, until recently, have been unthinkable. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the group is now undergoing a liquidity crisis.’’

(READ MORE: Bristow Helicopters sacks about 100 pilots due to Coronavirus pandemic)

A spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic disclosed that the airline attended a court session on Tuesday as part of a solvent recapitalization process under 26(A) of the UK Companies Act 2006. That process would be going ahead with the support of the company’s majority creditors.

The airline’s official said, “Following the UK hearing held earlier today, ancillary proceedings in support of the solvent recapitalization were also filed in the US under their Chapter 15 process. These ancillary US proceedings have been commenced under provisions that allow US courts to recognize foreign restructuring processes.’’

‘’In the case of Virgin Atlantic, the process we have asked to be recognized is a solvent restructuring of an English company under Part 26A of the English Companies Act 2006.

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The UK based airline is seeking for protection under chapter 15 of the US bankruptcy code, which allows a foreign debtor to shield assets in the country.

This move is coming less than a month after the airline disclosed that it had agreed a rescue deal worth $1.6 billion to secure its future beyond the Coronavirus crisis. Under the arrangement, Virgin’s boss, Richard Branson, would inject $200 million, with additional funds provided by investors and creditors.

This proposal needed to secure approval from creditors under a court-sanction process.

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Mr Allison told Justice Trower that the Virgin Atlantic Group has sound business model during a high court hearing on Tuesday.

It can be recalled that Virgin Atlantic, who have been heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic had put in some measures to ensure the future of the airline is safeguarded. Some of these measures include the reduction of its schedule to prioritize core routes based on demand, cut over 3,000 jobs and so on.

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Tech News

Sim cards are now virtual and here’s why we like it

Telcos have moved from macro Sims to micro and nano Sims, now we have the eSims.

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MTN announced on July 15, 2020, that its virtual sim cards are now available in Nigeria. This eSim (embedded sim) is built into the smart device and provides the same function as the physical Sim cards; the difference is they cannot be damaged or lost like the physical ones. In cases where there is a damaged phone, the user will need to visit an MTN store to have it deactivated. Also, the MTN eSim can have more than the limited 200 contacts the physical cards normally carry.

However, not everyone can use the eSim just yet as it is compatible with a limited number of phone brands, some of which include: Google, Apple and Samsung, and even then, there are only a few models of these named brands the eSim can be integrated into.

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How does it work?

The eSim has to be activated onto a user’s device. This activation will be done in an MTN store by a customer service agent, this process according to MTN comes at no cost to the user. As soon as the device is confirmed to be compatible, a profile of the subscriber is created and the agent completes the integration process.

Reportedly, MTN will be testing the virtual sim cards over the next 1 year and will only be available to 5000 people during this test run. Also, current phone numbers cannot be linked to the eSim cards at the moment.

Nonetheless, this is yet another first for MTN, Nigeria’s’ biggest telecom company. The telco is no stranger to firsts in these parts; since 2001, the company has been credited with many firsts when it came to mobile communication and internet penetration. With the launch of the eSim, MTN has become the pioneer in West Africa.

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Why are we liking the Idea of eSims in Nigeria?

It is rather early to say whether or not the eSim will in time completely phase out the physical cards Nigerians are used to but the many upsides that come with it, give room for us to want the eSim to thrive.

Sims have had one of the most exciting evolutions- Telcos have moved from macro Sims to micro and nano Sims, now we have the eSims, very soon, we’ll probably go simless all together.

The Upsides?

  1. Using eSims means no more need for a sim card slot in newer model devices- so in case of a damaged slot, you can still use your device. Most devices that are compatible still have the sim card slot but just like the head phone jacks, the slots will probably disappear too.
  2. It is much easier to have multiple telephone numbers on one phone- no need to spend so much on a phone that supports two sim cards and no need to swap out sim cards any longer.
  3. It’ll be much easier to buy one off data plans and phone services when travelling abroad.
  4. Phones with the eSim feature have much more internal space, so they can fit in more components like bigger batteries, not just phones.
  5. eSims can be used in smart watches without having to link it to your phone.
  6. With the eSim comes locks to prevent anyone other than the user from using the embedded device, making it almost useless for anyone who intends to steal.

The Downsides?

  1. The process when a user wants to switch phones can be a bit of a hassle- they would have to log on to your carriers system to inform on the number change for the new phone/device.
  2. User can be tracked easily seeing as you cannot fully disconnect from the network.
  3. Can only work on expensive devices- this relatively new technology can only work on new and expensive phone and devices, hence, the chance it will go mainstream in Nigeria where there is still a large market for the older model phones that are not even internet compatible is rather unlikely.
  4. Could cause a slow in business for telecom companies as the eSim allows consumers to purchase data connectivity from whoever they choose online.

From all the offerings of the eSim, it seems the most beneficial to a user who travels a lot rather than the next door mobile phone user. Regardless, the eSim has a lot of potential and eventually it could take the place of physical cards, but for now they will have to exist alongside the physical cards.

Patricia
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Business

How to access CBN’s Health Research & Development grant

The Scheme shall be funded from the Developmental Component of MSMEDF.

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The Central Bank of Nigeria has issued the guideline for accessing the Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme (HSRDIS) grant.

The grant, which is part of the apex bank’s policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic, is designed to help strengthen the public healthcare system with innovative financing of research and development (R&D) in new and improved drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics of infectious diseases in Nigeria.

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The guideline was published on the CBN’s website on Tuesday.

Why it matters: HSRDIS is designed to trigger intense national R&D activities to develop a Nigerian vaccine, drugs and herbal medicines against the spread of COVID-19 and any other communicable or non-communicable diseases. This would be done through the provision of grants to biotechnological and pharmaceutical companies, institutions, researchers, and research institutes.

Who is eligible: Activities eligible for consideration under the Scheme shall include:

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  • Research and development of candidate drugs, herbal medicines, and vaccines validated by relevant health authorities for the control, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.
  • Manufacturing of drugs, herbal medicines and vaccines validated by relevant health authorities for the control, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.
  • Red biotechnological R&D in new health technology for the control, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.
  • The research partnership between academia and industry into the development of drugs and vaccines for the control, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.
  • Research and development into validated phytomedicines for the control, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.

Important Notice: Candidate vaccines undergoing pre-clinical testing or trials shall not be eligible for consideration under this Scheme. However, candidate vaccines 4 Classified as Confidential undergoing clinical testing or trials shall be eligible for consideration under the Scheme if considered to have high potential to cross the clinical trial stage and prospects of scale by the Body of Experts (BoE).

Who funds the grant: The Scheme shall be funded from the Developmental Component of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Fund (MSMEDF).

Grant Limit:

  • Research activities: Maximum of N50.0 million.
  • Development/Manufacturing activities: Maximum of N500.0 million.

NOTE: Disbursement under the Scheme shall be made to beneficiaries in tranches, subject to approved milestones achieved.

Research and Development Timeframe

  • research activities: Not more than two (2) years from the date of release of fund.
  • Development/Manufacturing activities: Not more than one (1) year from the date of release of fund.

Read the full guidelines here.

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