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AfCFTA forces FG to revamp port infrastructure to avert trade loss 

The Nigerian ports are undergoing infrastructure reforms in order to enable Nigeria to benefit fully from the AfCFTA.

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AfCFTA forces FG to revamp port infrastructure to avert trade loss, NPA discovers new method Apapa businessmen use to avoid port duties 

In order to enable Nigeria to benefit fully from the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) and take advantage of the opportunities it provides, the Nigerian ports are undergoing infrastructure reforms.

The Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman, stated that this would ensure smooth transmission of goods and investments through the ports. According to her, it would boost the trade relationship between Nigeria and other countries.

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Nigeria’s business environment; Survival of the fittest, Reps move to block leakage of N600 billion revenue monthly at Apapa, Tin Can port 

Why it matters: Infrastructure upgrade creates opportunities for the nation. The deplorable state of the ports in Nigeria has become a trade barrier, preventing connectivity, which is costly to companies depending on the ports for importing and exporting of goods. Bala-Usman said with this removed, and dredging of seaports, as well as the elimination of corruption, and manual processes in the sector, enormous opportunities would be recorded.

Bala-Usman, who disclosed the infrastructure reforms at the ports during the 2019 International Ports and Terminal (NIMPORT) Conference and Expo, said the changeover would engender effectiveness in Nigeria when the AfCFTA comes into full effect.

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“Investment in infrastructure will give the opportunity to link critical hinterlands with rails, waterways, rehabilitation of roads leading to the ports and deliberate policies put in place to improve the transport sector.

[READ MORE: NCC to capitalize on AfCFTA to boost economic gains)

“All the investments in infrastructure with the signing of the AfCFTA are aimed at integrating the economy of the country and removing barriers,” she told The Nation. 

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Other challenges confronting AfCFTA: Aside from the port issue, the road network is another problem for traders in Nigeria. Both the port and road connectivity have cost companies millions of naira. President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote disclosed late last month that his company lost N25 billion to the poor state of Oshodi-Apapa Expressway. A year before (2018), Dangote Group had disclosed that the salt and sugar arm of the group lost about N2 billion monthly which was caused by the perennial traffic gridlocks on the Apapa ports road.

Nigeria’s business environment; Survival of the fittest

Meanwhile, as reported by Nairametrics, NASCON Allied Industries Plc, one of the subsidiaries of Dangote Industries Limited, has moved some of its operations away from Apapa to Oregun and Port Harcourt. While disclosing the development, the company’s Managing Director, Paul Farrer, said the decision to move its operations was in response to the lingering gridlock in Apapa.

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Farrer said the Apapa gridlock was one of the key risks to the company’s business last year. He added that the Apapa gridlock affected the movement of raw materials to Oregun, timely delivery of finished goods to customers and increased turn-around time of the company’s trucks. So, if the deplorable road network and port congestion continue, AfCFTA will hold no benefit for Nigeria’s economy.

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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Tech News

3 startups to get N3 million grant each in the COVID-19 virtual hackathon 

The hackathon hopes to identify accessible and cost-effective E-Learning solutions for public schools.

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The Nigerian Communications Commission has announced that 3 finalist startups will get a grant of N3 million each at the end of the COVID-19 virtual hackathon 

These three startups will be selected from submitted entries that meet all the criteria and provide adaptable digital solutions for addressing the present and future impacts of pandemic and epidemic diseases 

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The solutions must be novel, clearly explained, with proof of concept  

NCC announced this through a statement published on its Twitter handle.  

The grant, it said, will enable the three startups with the most promising digital solutions to produce a prototype within 2 months of receipt.  

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According to the statement, submitted entries are expected to provide solutions in sectors such as health, digital communications, education, transportation.  

For those in health, the solutions should find a way to empower frontline healthcare workers or prevent, trace, and contain the spread in Nigeria.  

Solutions in digital communications are expected to aid the sustenance of economic activities and people-to-people communication while encouraging social distancing without compromising productivity. 

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The hackathon also hopes to identify accessible and cost-effective E-Learning solutions for public schools, as well as improved safety measures in public transportation in Nigeria.  

Interested tech hubs, startups and innovative digital SMEs can still submit entries on or before July 17, 2020.  

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Financial Services

CBN expands scope of regional banks in Nigeria, gives compliance timeframe

The aim of this directive is to expand the reach of the regional banks across the country, the CBN said.

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Regional Banks

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has expanded the scope of regional banks in the country, by requiring them to open branches in at least one additional geopolitical zone outside of the existing geopolitical zones where their operating licenses cover.

A circular that was issued earlier this week by the apex bank said this new directive is in accordance with “section 8 (g) of the CBN Scope, Conditions & Minimum Standards for Commercial Banks Regulations no [1] 2010 as revised on September 4, 2019.” 

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The new directive took effect on Friday, June 26, 2020. In other words, all the regional banks are expected to have become aware of this development since then. They now have a timeframe of six months to establish their presence in the geopolitical zones outside of where they currently operate.

It should be noted that prior to this time, regional banks in the country typically operated in at least two geopolitical zones of the federation. However, in line with the new expansion, the CBN shall now prescribe an additional geopolitical zone for each of these regional banks, thereby making the coverage area three geopolitical zones per regional bank.

Meanwhile, the CBN said the aim of this directive is to expand the reach of the regional banks across the country, whilst ultimately promoting financial inclusion. Note also that the new directive affects all regional banks, both the ones engaged in commercial banking and non-interest banking. Some part of the circular said:

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“Effective the date of this circular, all banks with regional authorisation shall be required to operate from one additional geopolitical zone as may be prescribed for each institution by the CBN, without prejudice to the existing requirement of the minimum of two (2) geopolitical zones of the federation. The essence is to promote spread and balance of the regional banks across the country.

“The compliance timeline to establish operational footprint at the advised zone shall not exceed six (6) months from the issuance of the regulatory advice to each regional bank by the CBN.”

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Economy & Politics

Nigerian and US Authorities battle former Enron Nigerian Subsidiary over $80 million Yacht

Both Nigerian and American governments have opposed Enron Nigeria’s appeal. 

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19 years after the bankruptcy of Enron Corporation, one of the biggest corporate bankruptcies in American history, a former subsidiary of the company is battling Nigerian and American Authorities over the sale of a yacht valued at over $80 million acquired by Nigerian businessman Kolawole Aluko. 

The yacht was seized by the US Government in 2018 after prosecutors say it was bought with the proceeds of bribes paid to Nigeria’s former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani AlisonMadueke. 

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The yacht was later auctioned for $37 million in 2019. The Nigerian government also dropped claims to the proceeds of the sale recently and a Texas Court ordered all proceeds should be retained by the US Government. 

However, a former unit of the Bankrupt Enron, Enron Nigeria Power Holdings claims its entitled to the proceeds and demands $22 million in a bid to get an arbitration awarded to them against the Nigerian government for suspending a contract signed with Enron in 1999 to build and operate a Power plant. 

(READ MORE: Nigeria leads Africa combined in Q2 2020 on BTC P2P)

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Enron Nigeria claims the Nigerian government dropped claims to the proceeds of the yacht’s auction in an attempt to fraudulently transfer assets to stop creditors from accessing them. Saying Nigeria dropping its claims was a recognition of the factual and legal basis” in a DOJ court filing. 

Both Nigerian and American governments have opposed Enron Nigeria’s appeal. 

Enron Nigeria Power Holdings Ltd is owned by ex-Enron staff involved in the negotiations for the Power Plant contract in Nigeria and was bought out of bankruptcy for $750,000 in 2004 by a Cayman Islands registered company. 

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An arbitration ruling in 2012 awarded Enron Nigeria Power Holdings $11.2 million including interest in damages against the Nigerian government. 

The DOJ says Mr. Aluko bought the yacht for $82 million in 2013 and funded a lavish lifestyle for Alison Madueke in exchange for NNPC contracts valued at over $1.5 billion. 

Aluko and his business partner, Olajide Omokore are also accused of laundering illicit revenues into and through the United States

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