The StarTimes and Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) venture has yielded no returns for the nation after 11 years of operation.
This was disclosed by the Director-General, NTA, Yakubu Ibn Mohammed while he was questioned by the Senate Joint committee on Finance and National Planning on Monday.
The Senate queried the management of NTA over what it called 11 years non-profitable venture with StarTimes.
StarTimes is a Chinese electronics and media company with a strong presence in Africa. It offers digital terrestrial television and satellite television services to consumers, provides technologies to countries and broadcasters that are switching from analog to digital television.
Chairman, Senate Joint committee on Finance and National Planning, Senator Solomon Adeola, asked, “Mr DG are you telling this committee that for solid 11 years, the joint venture agreement NTA had with StarTimes has not yielded any profit despite using your facilities for over one million subscribers.
“This is completely unfair to Nigeria. Something is cooking. You must come with the MD of your subsidiary unit overseeing the contractual and operational agreement.”
Not a single kobo was made in 11 years
The NTA boss, said, “As an Executive Director in 2009 in NTA, not a single kobo was made from the joint venture with StarTimes, the same situation I met in 2016 when I returned as D-G.
”In fact, on assumption of office as D-G, that was the first question I asked, upon which records of non- profitability was presented by the NTA subsidiary outfit running it. The non- profitability status of the venture remains till today.”
Consequently, to dig further, the DG was ordered to appear before the committee again on Tuesday along with the Managing Director of NTA TV Enterprises, Maxwell Loko, supervising the joint venture with StarTimes.
US imposes $15,000 visa bond on 15 African countries, others
The US has issued a visa rule requiring tourist and business travelers in some countries to pay a bond of up to $15,000 in addition to the visa fees.
The outgoing administration of US President, Donald Trump, on Monday, November 23, 2020, issued a new temporary visa rule that requires tourist and business travelers from 15 African countries and others to pay a bond of up to $15,000 in addition to the visa fees, which ranges from $16 to $300, in order to visit the United States.
According to TheCable, the US State Department said the visa bond pilot programme, expected to take effect from December 24 and end on June 24, 2021, is targeted at countries whose citizens have higher rates of overstaying B-2 visas for tourists and B-1 visas for business travelers.
The Trump administration said the six-month pilot program aims to test the feasibility of collecting such bonds and will serve as a diplomatic deterrence to overstaying the visas. Hence, overstay places significant pressure on Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security.
The visa bond rule will permit U.S. consular officers to request tourist and business travelers from countries whose nationals had an overstay rate of 10% and above in 2019 to pay a refundable bond of $5,000, $10,000, or $15,000.
The countries whose tourist and business travelers fall into this category and subjected to the bond requirements are 24 countries, including 15 African countries. While these nations had higher rates of overstays, they sent relatively fewer travelers to the United States.
The countries include Afghanistan, Angola, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Burma, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa), Djibouti, Eritrea, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Laos, Liberia, Libya, Mauritania, Papua New Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen,
Nigerian travelers escaped paying the temporary visa rule, as their overall score was below the threshold of 10% and above overstaying rate.
Senate approves issuance of N148bn promissory notes to Bayelsa, 4 others
Promissory notes worth N148,141,969,161.24 has been approved by the Senate as refund to Bayelsa, Cross River, Ondo, Osun and Rivers States
Promissory notes worth N148.141billion have been approved by the Senate as a refund to Bayelsa, Cross River, Ondo, Osun, and Rivers States for projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government.
The approval which was given by the Senate at the plenary on Tuesday, 24th November 2020, came after the presentation of a report by the Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, led by Senator Ordia Clifford (PDP-Edo).
According to a news report by NAN, this is a go-ahead to the Federal Government, who had sought the approval of the Senate for issuance of promissory notes for a refund on federal projects executed by State governments.
The request was contained in a letter addressed to President of Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan by President Muhammadu Buhari, and read at plenary. The Senate referred the matter to the Committee on Local and Foreign Debts for further legislative input.
Senator Ordia Clifford, while presenting the report of the committee, said the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance; Federal Commissioners of Finance and Works in the five states, had briefed the committee on details of the projects.
He said the Committee was presented with documents relating to the approvals of the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing for the execution of the projects and certificates of completion, amongst other documents.
At the plenary today, Senator Ordia moved the motion that the Senate approves the Committee’s recommendations by approving the issuance of the promissory notes to the State governments.
According to him, the amount due to the five states is N148.14billion.
- Bayelsa was allotted N38.40billion
- Cross River was allotted N18.39billion
- Ondo was allotted N7.82billion
- Osun was allotted N4.57billion
- Rivers was allotted N78.95billion
What they are saying
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, disclosed that records showed PDP states had the highest refund, he said: “If you look at the list of states, only two are APC states and they have the least in terms of refund, this is fantastic and a mark of leadership by the Federal Government. This shows tolerance and leadership by this administration.”
Interswitch Group becomes Finastra’s lead technology partner in Nigeria
nterswitch Group has unveiled a consolidated partnership with Finastra, one of the world’s most influential Fintechs.
In a bid to further develop its market and expand, Interswitch Group has unveiled a consolidated partnership with Finastra, one of the world’s most influential Fintechs.
This is according to a verified post by Interswitch Group on Linkedin, as seen by Nairametrics.
What this means
The strategic partnership enables Interswitch to become Finastra’s lead technology partner and will avail the latter the opportunity to bring the broadest set of financial software solutions to financial institutions in Nigeria and across Africa, in conjunction with Interswitch’s strong understanding of the local banking and payments landscape, as well as the ability to deploy solutions across these markets.
Some of Finastra’s financial software solutions that will be incorporated into Interswitch’s digital solution include: Fusion Kondor and Fusion Trade Innovation, which will consolidate Interswitch’s position as a hub for financial solutions, including treasury and trade solutions.
What they are saying
Commenting on the partnership, the Founder and Group Chief Executive Officer of Interswitch, Mitchell Elegbe, was quoted by Tech economy saying: “Our partnership with Finastra is consistent with our strategic growth plan and we both share the vision of deepening access to financial services by providing world-class technology and innovative solutions.
“The partnership enables Finastra to seamlessly deploy its technology in this market. For Interswitch, we will be leveraging our proven success and expertise in delivering transaction banking solutions to support Finastra in localizing and implementing their technology in this region.’’
On the other hand, the Head of Partner Ecosystem MEA & CIS at Finastra, Hamid Nirouzad, said: “Interswitch has a proven track record of delivering solutions to commercial banks, as well as, a strong understanding of the local banking landscape across Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa.
“Finastra is committed to providing its solutions to financial institutions across the world, and partnerships such as this will result in successful projects, with rapid delivery at a reasonable cost.”