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Nigerian Banks reduce dollar spending limits as forex scarcity rises

Many Nigerian banks are reducing how much foreign currency customers can spend abroad as concerns over the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and drop in crude oil prices worsens Nigeria’s currency situation.

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Nigeria’s GDP picks up to 2.28% y/y in Q3-19, Nigerian Banks reduce dollar spending limits as forex scarcity rises

Many Nigerian banks are reducing how much foreign currency customers can spend abroad as concerns over the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and drop in crude oil prices worsens Nigeria’s currency situation.

Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, the country’s biggest lender by market value, reduced international spending limits on its naira-denominated cards to $1,500 from $3,000 last week, while Zenith Bank Plc. reduced the limit to $1,000 from $3,000. Some media outlets report GTB reduced its limit to $500.

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Also, Providus Bank, one of the more recent banking institutions also informed its customers that it will be restricting limits to $1,000 per month.

Just last week, the central bank “adjusted” the exchange rate between the naira and the US dollar from N307/$1 to N360/$1 at the official window while it moved the exchange rate for business travelers looking to buy forex from N360/$1 to N380/$1. This marked the first official devaluation of the naira since 2017.

READ MORE: Another crushing recession ‘is coming’

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Why the restrictions: Analysts explain to Nairametrics that the recent devaluation or adjustment of the naira as the CBN will have it, could be the first round of currency depreciation expected in 2020. The exit of foreign portfolio investors from emerging markets like Nigeria is also expected to negatively impact the country’s external reserves.

Thus, banks may have decided to take precautions as the amount of dollars available for them to sell to their customers paying for transactions abroad may be declining.

The CBN is thought to have also restricted forex sales to BDCs following their requests further increasing dollar scarcity.

Nairametrics research also confirms the exchange rate at the parallel market is between N400 and N410 depending on who you are buying from and there is no guarantee that the seller actually has the dollar supply.
Blast from the past: This is not the first time the banks will be restricting dollar purchase for its customers.

READ MORE: Exploring branchless, other digital forms of banking in a crisis

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In 2015 and 2016 when the oil price and output crashed, the central bank introduced controls to reduce dollar demand, prompting many lenders to either cut or suspend foreign payments for customers using their naira cards.

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However, the measures taken then in 2016 came with damaging effects, as restricted access to dollars left businesses unable to import raw materials and locals unable to meet dollar-denominated expenses, including medical expenses and tuition at foreign schools.

Even while abroad, Nigerians still felt the brunt of the restrictions as banks placed spending limits on debit cards. The currency controls also had an adverse effect on investors as international airlines either pulled out or cut down on routes to Nigeria.

Olumide Adesina a French-born Nigerian, an Investment Professional at Nairametrics Financial Advocates, owners of Nairametrics.com. Olumide Adesina is a certified Investment trader, with more than 14 years of working experience in Financial trading. His work experience covers trading commodity derivatives and analysis of global equities, currencies, commodities, cryptocurrencies, and Fixed Income instruments. A member of the Chartered Financial Analyst Society. You can follow Olumide on twitter @tokunboadesina and email via olumide.adesina@nairametrics.com.

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Economy & Politics

Lagos to shut down Marine Beach bridge for emergency repairs

The closure will allow the Federal Ministry of Works to carry out emergency repairs on the bridge, in line with the government’s vision of providing a better transportation system in the state.

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Lagos state government has announced that the Apapa Marine Beach bridge will be closed for five months, from Wednesday 27th May, to Wednesday 21st October, 2020.

The closure will allow the Federal Ministry of Works to carry out emergency repairs on the bridge, in line with the government’s vision of providing a better transportation system in the state.

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In a statement from the Lagos state Ministry of Transportation, the Commissioner, Dr. Frederic Oladeinde, noted that the repairs were long overdue, and necessary to ensure safety of Lagosians, given the number of motorists that use the route.

The Commissioner noted that the repairs included bearing and expansion joint replacement and would be executed in two phases, taking one lane of the bridge at a time.

The first phase will involve handling the lane inbound Apapa while the second phase will be designated to work on the lane that conveys vehicles outside the axis,” he said.

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Alternative routes

Oladeinde noted that alternative routes around the bridge had been improved to make them motorable, and ease movements for road users.

To manage the construction period, the statement noted that Traffic Management Authorities would be hard at work to ameliorate the expected traffic issues and supervise other arrangements.

“Motorists inwards Wharf road will be diverted to the other section of the bridge outwards Apapa, a contraflow of 200metres has been put in place for vehicles to realign with a proper direction inwards Ajegunle or Wharf road, Apapa, while Motorists descending to Total Gas under bridge will drive without any hindrance,” it read.

The Commissioner called for the understanding and cooperation of motorists and road users during the period to ensure a smooth flow of plans.

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Economy & Politics

Fayemi set to activate digital economy with N5billion broadband infrastructure

Governor Fayemi plans to activate Ekiti state’s digital economy, this would help generate healthy competition within the ICT sector

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Fayemi set to activate digital economy with N5billion broadband infrastructure in Ekiti state

Ekiti state government has concluded plans to create a digital hub, with the laying of a 606-kilometer broadband infrastructure.

The project is expected to lift the state from 16% internet penetration to 90% and is estimated to be worth N5 billion, with the Federal Government contributing N1.1 billion of the total sum.

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This plan is part of the memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which the state Governor signed with O’odua Infraco Resources Limited, a consortium that develops high speed and efficient Fibre Optic Cable (FOC) Open Access Network (OAN) across the South-West region of Nigeria.

According to the Managing Director of O’odua Infraco Resources Limited, Mr Sammy Adigun, the project will be officially flagged off in October and completed within 14 months.

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(READ MORE: What Nigeria stands to gain from new National Broadband Plan)

This decision is a follow-up to the recent crash of Right of Way charges from N4,500 to N145 per meter for broadband infrastructure, and in line with one of the five pillars of Governor Kayode Fayemi’s development plan for Ekiti state.

The Governor noted that these decisions would help generate healthy competition within the ICT sector, thus activating Ekiti state’s digital economy and digital education.

Fayemi noted that the project execution, as well as the broadband policy in the state would be coordinated and supervised by a Digital Infrastructural Committee, made up of various relevant government institutions critical to the implementation of the project.

“For us the roadmap is first the fibre connectivity itself, the second is the adequate data center infrastructure, the third is the e-learning programme which will cover our educational institutions, then our safe city, our security programme will also be included.

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“With our geographical land information system (GIS), we would digitalize all our land records, and of course, commercial investment as well as digitalisation of our government assets and our health education initiative,” Fayemi explained.

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Economy & Politics

NCC reacts to claims that minister chased Diaspora Commission’s staff from office complex

The NCC denies claims of the video on social media, pointing out that the staffs of NIDCOM were not sent packing from the digital economy complex

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NCC orders immediate suspension of USSD charges by telcos, 5G Network to undergo 3 months trial before approval - NCC , NCC licenses 20 new Internet service providers amidst challenges , 150 million Nigerians risk being defrauded – NCC , NCC warns telcos against cyber fraudsters , NCC rolls out new regulations on drone use, NCC licenses 10 new VAS providers as it projects market to hit $500 million , NCC, Infracos set to develop broadband infrastructure with N265 billion raise , Telecommunications: Broadband penetration set to grow, Telecoms operators fined N2.9 billion over infractions , NCC reacts to claims that minister chased away diaspora commission staff from office complex

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has reacted to claims by the Chief Executive of Nigeria Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, that her staff members were chased out of its premises by armed men on the orders of the Minister for Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami.

The NCC, through a press statement on May 24, 2020 signed by its Director, Public Affairs, Dr. Henry Nkemadu, has said that nothing of such happened as it denied claims in a video making rounds on social media that the staff of NIDCOM were sent packing from the digital economy complex.

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According to the press statement from NCC:

Following the completion of the NCC building at Mbora, Abuja designated as NCC Annex and the acute shortage of accommodation space for the staff of the commission in the NCC head office at Maitama, Abuja, the Board of the commission directed the decongestion of the Head office building. Some of the departments of the NCC had started moving to the new office complex of 5 floors when discussions were held between the NCC and the Diaspora Commission to enable the Diaspora Commission also utilize any free offices within the complex.

“The fifth floor allocated to them had to be used to accommodate other departments from the NCC headquarters to ease the congestion. NCC’s offer to house the Nigeria Diaspora Commission was predicated on the long held position of the NCC that agencies of government will achieve more through strategic collaboration, partnership, synergy and sharing to the extent allowed by relevant laws.”

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(READ MORE: PenCom dissolves interim management committee for First Guarantee Pension, appoints new board)

NCC disclosed that it had secured approval for the commissioning of the office complex by President Buhari, and also the launching of 4 important projects of NCC, together with the renamed Ministry of Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy.

It also stated that the offer to NIDCOM had not been withdrawn, but had only hit a bump arising from the preparation for the visit of President Buhari to launch the projects and inaugurate the complex. It said that the Board and Management of NCC took a decision to ensure that every activity in the building was in line with the Federal Government’s agenda.

Going further, the statement reads:

“Incidentally, after the offer of the office spaces to the Diaspora Commission, the Director General, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa had not visited the complex to take possession of any of the offices and also the commission had not started using any of these spaces as offices.

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‘’As is usual in ensuring security and accountability before, during and after presidential visits, the building had to be cleared to allow for only known and identifiable persons to have access within the complex. Therefore, the Honourable Minister of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami could not have sent armed men to drive the staff of the Diaspora Commission out of the Communication Economy Complex.”

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The statement also pointed out that as at that time, only NCC staff were accredited to have access within the premises and that all properties belonging to NIDCOM were safely warehoused in some of the offices within the complex.

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