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Stock Exchange, Four Banks Close Shop In Cote d’Ivoire



The West African

Stock Exchange and four banks have suspended their operations in Cote d’Ivoire, following disagreements and security fears raised with the government of President Laurent Gbagbo.

Three international banks, Nigeria’s Access bank plc, the French subsidiary of BNP Paribas- BICICI and America’s Citi bank, announced their suspension of operations on Monday.

On Wednesday, the Standard Chattered Bank, established for corporate banking, was closed to customers and other business activities.

The West African central bank, BCEAO, which provides the financial backbone to eight francophone West African countries including Cote d’Ivoire, had earlier suspended its operations in Cote d’Ivoire in January.

The closure of the four international banks, the stock market and the central bank signals the gradual pulling of the curtain over economic activities in Cote d’Ivoire.

The Ivorian economy is already crawling from the battery of international sanctions targeted at the cocoa industry, which is the mainstay of the economy.

The international community had piled sanctions on the Ivorian economy, following President Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to hand over power to Alassane Ouattara.

Ouattara was the declared winner of the presidential elections held in November 2010 by the Ivorian electoral commission and the UN operations in Cote d’Ivoire, but Gbagbo rejected the results.

The Tide West African correspondent, who went round the branches of the banks in the central business and administrative zone of Cote d’Ivoire reports that all the banks were closed for business.

The premises of the West African Stock market was also sealed, with a strong presence of Ivorian security guards.

A communiqué issued by the West African Stock exchange on Wednesday said it had to suspend operations because Gbagbo had “requisitioned” the office.

The communiqué said the Board of Trustees of the Stock Market met in Ouagadougou and decided to suspend the operation of the market in Abidjan, after reviewing the political situation.

The communiqué, signed by the Stock Exchange president, Yade Coulibaly, said “all market operators are to stop trading in the Abidjan market until further notice’’.

The statement on the susupension of operations by BICICI, posted on its website on Monday, said the bank had to close temporarily for security reasons.

“We regret to announce to you that BICICI temporarily suspended its activities from this day February 14, 2011.

“We are no longer able to ensure that our work is done in satisfactory legal and accounting conditions for our customers or ensure the physical security of our staff,’’ a statement signed by the bank’s Managing Director, Yao Kouassi, said.

According to a statement, the French bank said its operations had been hampered by many “legal and regulatory confusions’’ in Cote d’Ivoire.

A Staff of the Nigerian Access bank in Abidjan told newsmen that there was a “directive from Lagos that the bank in Cote d’Ivoire should be closed on Monday.

“We had to go home, but we are not sure when the bank will be re-opened,’’ the staff said.

The Ivorian Minister of Budget, Katinan Kone, said the closure of the banks contravened the legal agreements entered on the security of depositors’ funds.

“The BICICI and Citi bank violate the rights of investors by confiscating their deposits. The Laurent Gbagbo-led government cannot tolerate these acts of defiance,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, customers had a run on the West Africa regional bank, Ecobank and the subsidiary of the Societe Generale bank in Cote d’ Ivoire, SGBCI, on Wednesday.

“We had many customers, who came in to draw down their money and we met all their requirements,” a senior manager at the headquarters of Ecobank told newmen.

Okwuashi said that it was unfortunate that Nigerian port system lacked the requisite number of professionals to manage the system effectively.

The port technocrat stressed that the Inland Container Depots (ICDs) were initiated to alleviate port congestion and that port managers should understand the importance of the ICDs.

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CBN Releases N756bn To Over 3m Farmers To Boost Food Security



The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), says it has released the sum of N756.51 billion to 3,734,938 small holder farmers, cultivating 4.6 million hectares of land, to boost the Federal Government’s food security initiative.
Mr Godwin Emefiele, the CBN Governor, made this known while presenting a communiqué from the bank’s recently held, 280th meeting of its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).
Emefiele said that N120.24 billion of the sum was extended for the 2021 wet season to 627,051 farmers for 847,484 hectares of land, under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).
“The sum of N121.57 billion was disbursed to 32,617 beneficiaries.
“For the Targeted Credit Facility (TCF), N318.17 billion was released to 679,422 beneficiaries, comprising 572,189 households and 107,233 Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs),’’ he said.
Emefiele revealed that the apex bank also expended huge sums in its youth investment scheme, to empower Nigerian youths, and to reduce unemployment by providing to the creative sector and Information Technology.
“Under the National Youth Investment Fund (NYIF), the Bank released N3.0 billion to 7,057 beneficiaries, of which 4,411 were individuals and 2,646 SMEs.
“Under the Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI), N3.22 billion was disbursed to 356 5 beneficiaries across movie production, movie distribution, software development, fashion, and IT verticals,’’ he said.
The CBN Governor also revealed that the apex bank had invested close to N1trillion to boost the real sector of the economy, covering 251 real sector projects.
He said that the bank’s intervention also spanned health sector support initiatives and electricity distribution.
“Under the N1.0 trillion Real Sector Facility, the Bank released N923.41 billion to 251 real sector projects, of which 87 were in light manufacturing, 40 in agro-based industry, 32 in services and 11 in mining.
“On the N100 billion, Healthcare Sector Intervention Facility (HSIF), N98.41 billion was disbursed for 103 health care projects, of which, 26 are pharmaceuticals and 77 are in the hospital services.
“Similarly, the sum of N232.54 million was disbursed to five beneficiaries under the CBN Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention (Grant) Scheme (HSRDIS) for the development of testing kits and devices for COVID-19 and Lassa Fever.
“On the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP), N36.04 billion was disbursed to 17 Meter Asset Providers to nine Distribution Companies (DisCos), for the procurement and installation of 657,562 electricity meters,’’ Emefiele said.

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Siat Assures Host Communities Of Fair Deal … Offers 15 Varsity Students Scholarships



As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility to its host communities, an agro-allied company located in Rivers State, Siat Nigeria Limited, has assured that it would continue to cater for the wellbeing and needs of the indigenes of the communities where it is doing business even as it has offered undergraduate scholarship awards to 15 students from the areas.
The company, which gave the assurance during the presentation of scholarship awards to the students at its corporate headquarters in Ubima Community in Ikwerre Local Government Area recently, said it would continue to promote a harmonious working relationship with its host communities and strive as much as possible to contribute to their growth and development.
The Managing Director of the company, Mr Felix Nwabuko, who gave the indication in an address during the company’s this year’s undergraduate scholarship programme, said the scholarship initiative is just one of the corporate social responsibility lined up by the company for its host communities.
According to him, the university scholarship award is intended to assist and encourage students of the host communities in the areas of Agriculture, Agricultural Economics, Accounting and Engineering.
While congratulating the beneficiary students on their success during the scholarship examination, Nwabuko noted that they are by this award, ambassadors of not only their communities but Siat Nigeria Limited, and urged them to exhibit good behaviour throughout the duration of their university education.
“It is our fervent belief that the beneficiaries will avail themselves of this singular opportunity and study hard to become good citizens of not only the communities they came from but the society at large”, he said.
Nwabuko commended the government at both the state and local levels for providing the enabling environment for the company’s operations as well as the peace the firm has enjoyed from the host communities.
He noted with delight that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, and its associated harsh economic effects, Siat Nigeria Limited did not lay off its workers like other companies including banks, stressing that it was because the company took into consideration the excellent relationship and goodwill it has with the host communities.
The beneficiaries of the scholarship were drawn from the company’s Ubima and Elele estates.
The first round of the scholarship programme took place in 2016 and the beneficiaries, according to the company, have all graduated.

By: Donatus Ebi

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AKK Project Will Enhance Gas Utilisation For Industrialisation – Buhari



President Muhammadu Buhari says successful completion of the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano, AKK Project in 2023 would enhance domestic gas utilisation as the mainstay for national industrialisation.
Buhari stated this at the opening ceremony of the 2021 Gas Sector Stakeholders (AKK) Forum organised by the Gas Aggregation Company Nigeria (GACN) yesterday in Kano.
He was represented by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva.
“Today’s event reinforces our commitments to realizing the inherent potentials of gas usage as a national catalyst for achieving economic diversification from crude oil and as transition period to the renewable energy,” he said.
He revealed that the project would also increase government revenue and create more jobs opportunities for the unemployed Nigerians.
The President said that many companies had been shut down due to power supply problem across the country.
He explained that it would take two to three years to reactivate those industries to their optimal performance.
Buhari also said that the Federal Government has reduced the price of gas from 2 dollars 50 cents to 2 dollars 18 Cents.
“Let me use this medium to announce that following successful negotiations between Federal Government of Nigeria and organized unions, the price of gas has been reduced from $2.50 Cents to $2.18 Cents, with immediate effects,” he said.
He said that all the relevant stakeholders had been communicated on the issue.
Also speaking, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, said that the AKK project had been on the drawing board for the past 30 years.
Kyari said when completed, it would provide enough gas for both domestic and export purposes.
“Nigeria has huge gas resources, gas means prosperity and delivering gas is an opportunity creation,” he said.
He pointed out that the project would revive about 232 industries along AKK corridor.
In his remarks, the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado-Bayero, commended the Federal Government for the project, which he said, would also assist to enhance socioeconomic activities in the state.

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