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African Union chief calls for friendlier business climate, foster investment



The African Union Chairperson, Moussa Mahamat, has called for a business-friendly climate to promote private sector investment.

Mr Mahamat, speaking at the formal unveiling of the Ecobank Pan-African Centre in Lagos, said the project is a testament to what can be done if the government provides an enabling climate for companies to grow.

“Ecobank was born out of the idea among West African businesspeople who are determined to provide the African continent with a homegrown financial institution,” said Mr Mahamat. “It has shown exactly what can be achieved by the African private sector when they come together in genuine collaborative and joint efforts.”

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“Again, it has also shown that it is possible when government creates enabling environment for the private sector to thrive,” he continued.

Mr Mahamat also stressed the need for active engagement between the public and business sectors in Africa for economic equality.

Speaking at the event, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said the state would continue to foster an atmosphere that promotes business efficiency and encourages foreign direct investment.

He also added that the facility has a strong link that would help the state’s Smart City initiative and modernise infrastructure.

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“This Pan-African Centre is, indeed, an intelligent building designed with energy efficiency and is one of the things we need in Nigeria. … It is a state-of-the-art building focused on environmental sustainability and I am sure that from what I have seen around, it is redefining building and infrastructural development,” said the governor.

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Business & Finance

Petrol Price Increases By N9/Litre At Private Depots



Private Depots have hiked their Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, petrol price from N148/litre to N157/litre.

The increase has discouraged the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, members from buying or lifting the products from private depots.

According to the IPMAN National Vice President Alhaji Abubakar Maigandi, the N9/litre difference, which is about a 6.08% increase, has culminated in gradual withdrawal of sales.

He explained that the marketers are reluctant to lift the product since the Federal Government would not allow them to sell above the regulated band of between N162-N165 per litre.

It has given room to skeletal traces of petrol scarcity in some retail outlets, he said.

Maigandi however added that IPMAN has opted to meet the Nigerian Midstream & Downstream Regulatory Authority, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Engr. Ahmed Farouk.

He revealed to The Nation that the association would ask the Authority to grant members of the association direct product allocations instead of allowing them to depend on a third party.

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Maigandi also noted that IPMAN would ask the Authority to pay the outstanding debt that the defunct PEF owes the marketers.

He stated that the Fund owes each marketer up to seven months debts.

The National Vice President, who was asked whether the new Midstream & Upstream Regulatory Agency management had invited IPMAN to any meeting, said: “Up till now we didn’t see him.

“But we have the intention of going to see him probably this week. So, by this week we are going there because the situation is seriously changing.”

Continuing, he revealed: “If you go round you will see the queues have started developing because the private depot owners have raised their prices.

“They are now selling at N156-157/litre instead of N148/litre. That difference is scaring marketers from buying the product since if they come they will be forced to sell the product at a government-regulated rate. And that is not possible.

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“The CEO should try and do something about it hence there will be scarcity.

“We are going to tell him (the CEO) that the government should quickly pay us the outstanding debt with Petroleum Equalization Fund.

“This is because PEF owes each marketer up to seven months. This is a huge amount of money. It is over N50 billion as you have reported.

“Secondly, the government should be giving independent marketers their direct allocation instead of allowing them to be taken from a third party. We want it the way they have been giving to the Major Marketers.

“So, the independent marketers also want it directly from the source instead of going through a third party.”

But the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, allayed fears of a shortage of products.

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Nigerians Complain After Downloading the CBN eNaira app, hits over 100,000 downloads on playstore



Less than 48 hours after its official launch by President Muhammadu Buhari, the individual wallet for eNaira has recorded more than 100,000 thousand downloads on Google Playstore alone.

Apple’s App Store does not readily show an estimate of downloads.

The Nigerian official Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) was initially scheduled for launch on October 1 but was shifted till later in the month.

eNaira is the first of its kind in Africa. According to the Atlantic Council CBDC tracker, Naira debut made Nigeria one of the five countries in the world that have their own CBDC as the popularity of digital and cryptocurrencies continue to soar despite clampdowns in several countries.

There are two versions of the eNaira wallet – one for individuals (Speed Wallet) and another for merchants (Merchant Wallet).

“e-Naira will make a significant positive difference to Nigeria and Nigerians including supporting a resilience-payment system ecosystem, encouraging rapid financial inclusion, reducing the cost of processing cash, enabling direct and transparent welfare interventions for our citizens, increasing revenue and tax collection, facilitating diaspora remittances into Nigeria, reducing the cost of financial transactions and improving the efficiency of payment in Nigeria,” the governor of Central Bank of Nigeria Godwin Emefuele said on Monday.

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However, many people that have downloaded either of the eNaira apps on Playstore are having a tough time using them.

“An app with so many flaws. Can’t go past the registration stage because the app happens to send a confirmation message to an email it never requested for. So, I didn’t get any message and couldn’t register on the platform,” one user, Mark Samuel, said in his review of Speed Wallet on Playstore.

Another person who identified himself as Colorado Akpan said: “The interface is okay, But keeps telling me Incorrect account number even after trying 3times they told me to contact support because my BVN has been used too many times.”

CBN said for people who are faced with a similar problem as Akpan, the “system will unlock you after 30 minutes.”

Another person who has downloaded the app told The Guardian he was only able to register after trying nine times. But his problem did not stop there.

“I was lucky to get a confirmation email sent to me even though it was delayed. It was shocking, however, that the confirmation email that was supposed to expire after an hour, expired in less than five minutes,” he said.

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One Fajuyi Michael faulted the insistent on confirming registration on the app using the link sent to an email attached to an individual’s bank verification number (BVN).

Fajuyi said the “email address shouldn’t be a stumbling block. What if one has changed the email attached to BVN if any?”

Similar negative comments are trailing the Merchant Wallet version of the app on the Play Store.

One Queen Sly, in her review of Speed Wallet on the App Store, described the app as “fantastic”.

Her experience contrasted that of Kanny Ekong, who said the app rejected his account number “even when I’m sure it is correct.”

Currently, Speed has a two-star rating on Playstore with more than 2000 reviews, most of which are negative. It has 190 reviews on the App Store as of 3:00 am Wednesday and it is positive with a 3.3-star rating with more positive reviews.

It is not uncommon for tech products, especially applications like the eNaira wallets, to be buggy. It is, however, expected that the CBN will update the apps to improve the ease of registration and use.

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Expert: CBN’s N15 trillion infrastructure fund key to Nigeria’s economic growth



A construction industry expert, Mr Temitope Runsewe, has commended the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for its proposed N15 trillion Infrastructure Fund, saying it was key to job creation and economic growth.

Speaking with newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday, Runsewe said that the opportunity to utilise private sector funds to support infrastructure investment in critical sectors of the economy had enormous benefits.

He recalled that in July, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, had alluded that the nation’s infrastructure deficit would require billions of dollars annually to fix.

He also pointed to a report by a credit rating firm – ‘Moody’ in a 2020 report where it projected that Nigeria would require about three trillion dollars over the next 30 years to solve its infrastructure issues.

Against this backdrop, Runsewe commended the Apex bank for the bold proposal, adding that examples abounded around the world of private-sector funds being used for capital projects.

“The effects of unstable power supply, decrepit public infrastructure and inadequate social amenities are a reality most Nigerians are all too familiar with.

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“While the government has ramped up infrastructural projects such as railways and roads across Nigeria recently, studies show that Nigeria’s low GDP numbers are closely linked to inadequate infrastructure delivery.

“Our greatest challenge with economic growth in Nigeria is the glaring infrastructure deficit, which the government alone cannot fix.

“It is urgent that we involve private sector capital in the mix to ensure that the economic potential of the country is improved by providing the roads, power and other public facilities required in a growing economy,” he said.

NAN reports that Nigeria’s N15 trillion infrastructure fund (InfraCorp) which will be launched this October, is expected to address the challenge of infrastructure deficit in the country.

The fund which is backed by the African Finance Corporation and the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority seeks to utilise private sector capital to support infrastructure investment according to the Apex Bank.

Speaking on what impact the fund would have on the Nigerian economy, Runsewe who is the Managing Director of Dutum Company Ltd said that as a construction industry expert, he understood the need for funds in infrastructure development.

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“Working in the construction industry over the years, I have seen up close the challenges faced by both national and sub-national governments to meet the infrastructural needs of citizens.

“What InfraCorp provides is not just the necessary funding to support the government in bridging the infrastructure deficit, it also opens up opportunities to create more jobs in the construction industry and improve the skill level of professionals.”

“Everyone can attest to the fact that the level of excellence required by the private sector is much higher than what obtains in the public sector.

“What this means is that we will reduce wastage to the minimum and optimize service delivery.

We might end up saving as much as N2trn annually by opening up public infrastructure delivery to global best practices,” he said.

Runsewe added that with such professionalism, more resources will be available for the government to improve education and healthcare delivery among other things.

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