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Experts Predict Economic Growth For Nigeria

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The abundant investment opportunities in Nigeria as well as the statistics to back the fact that Nigeria remains an investors’ haven and gateway to Africa was the fulcrum of presentations and discussions by a panel consisting of the leaders of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and United Bank for Africa (UBA) at the investment gathering organised in London by Bloomberg, the multinational financial news corporation at the weekend.

Despite the challenging market conditions, Nigeria, according to them is projected to continue on the growth path over the next couple of years, presenting increasing opportunities for corporate financiers, sovereign investors, corporations and financial intermediaries.

In his presentation on Doing Business in Nigeria: Creating Wealth from Opportunities in Africa’s Largest Market, Mr. Phillips Oduoza, the CEO of UBA said the growth will be fuelled by activities in the oil and gas, power, infrastructure, manufacturing and agricultural sectors of the economy. He emphasised that the government reforms in these sectors and the attendant multiplier effects of the linkages between them in terms of job creation and increased consumer spending, will be very significant in the years ahead.

“As Nigeria’s truly pan-African bank with operations in 18 other African countries as well as London, New York and Paris, UBA is well positioned to help potential investors capitalise on these opportunities in Nigeria and the wider African continent,” he told the London gathering.

Also speaking at the conference, the CBN Deputy Governor and Coordinator of the Financial Systems Strategy 2020, Mr. Suleiman Barau, gave an update on the financial system reforms and highlighted that the planned Nigerian International Financial Centre (NIFC) presents more than N35 trillion worth of opportunities in the near term.

According to him, there exists about N218 billion worth of financial intermediation opportunities within the financial services sector especially in mobile money, insurance, pensions and real estate. In a similar vein, he stated that given the relative size today, traditional strongholds of the Nigerian economy such as power, agriculture, infrastructure and oil and gas sectors presents more that $355 billion of investment opportunities.

He said there is a stronger domestic financial markets in Nigeria today owing to the recent reforms by the CBN, which were hinged on four pillars; enhancing the quality of banks; establishing financial stability, enabling the evolution of a healthy financial sector and ensuring that the sector contributes to the real economy.

According to the CBN boss, the NIFC was a critical component of the overall FSS 2020, given that it will facilitate the diversification of the economy and catalyse rapid economic growth in Africa, sub Saharan Africa and Nigeria in particular. “Despite its massive size, population, abundant resources and potential returns, the continent has largely been excluded from the global financial system,” he said.

On his part the CEO of the Nigerian Stock Exchange Mr. Oscar Onyema said the market outlook for Nigeria remains very positive with the NSE, targeting a market capitalisation of 1 trillion USD in the next five years in a reform driven strategy that is hinged on targeted business development, strong regulatory environment, state of the art technology, growth enabling market structure and first rate investor protection programs.

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More Youths Engage In Artisanal Refining

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As unemployment bites harder amidst rising cost of living, more youths in rural communities in Rivers State are now going into artisanal refining business to earn a living.
The Tide reliably gathered that some youths residing in Port Harcourt City were gradually moving to rural communities for bunkering business otherwise known as ‘kpo-fire’ 
Narrating his experience to The Tide, Mr Godwin Ibeneme who resides in Rumuekini in Akpor, said he was introduced into the kpor-fire business by his father.
Ibeneme, who hails from Ibaa/ Obelle area of Emohua Local Government Area, said his father compelled him to join other youths who were thriving in the business in the community.
“My father came to my house here in Rumuekini, and told me to come to the village, that other young men are making it through kpo-fire’ bunkering since I have lost my job.
“ I didn’t waste time to give it a trial, because I had really looked for what to do, since I lost my job at a fast-food company. Since then, I can tell you that I have been taking care of myself, unlike before when everything looked hopeless”, he explained.
The Tide also learnt that the kpo-fire’ business was currently thriving in Isiokpo axis of Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
A resident of the community who pleaded anonymity, told The Tide that there was a high level of discrimination in the business.
According to him, he decided to engage himself at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, to hustle for his daily bread, instead of staying idle.
The Tide recalls that the Federal Government had promised to build modular refineries in the Niger Delta region since 2019 as an alternative to illegal oil bunkering in the region as well as to create employment for the youth. 
The Tide also reports that three years after the promise was made, nothing has been done in that regard.

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Oyigbo Cassava Plant, Legacy Project   -Akawor

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The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, Amb. Desmond Akawor, says the cassava plant project, being executed by the Rivers State Government in Oyigbo is a legacy project that will generate huge employment for Rivers people.
He said the project was well thought out and would stand the test of time to tackle unemployment as well as ensure food availability in the state.
Akawor made the remarks during an interaction with journalists at the weekend in Port Harcourt.
According to him, the cassava plant which was supposed to be executed by the previous administrations, was initially planned to be a joint venture between the state government and some organisations, but that the other partners did not pay their counterpart funding.
“The steps taken by the Wike-led administration to bring this project to life without the counterpart funding is commendable, because of the huge economic benefits it will give to the state.
“Many people have also been employed at the construction sites of flyovers being executed by Julius Berger. Eighty percent of those working there are indigenes, while the company provides the expatriates”, he said.
The  PDP chairman also hinted on the plans of the state government to privatise the Buguma fish farm and banana farm, among others, so as to make them more viable.
He said that the state government had not abandoned the projects initiated by the previous administration, but was thinking on what to do with them. 
Akawor maintained that the employment of 5,000 persons into the civil service was still ongoing, saying the government is only taking time to ensure that indigenes of the state are employed.

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PH Airport Resumes Skeletal International Flight Operations

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Skeletal flight operations have resumed at the international wing of the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
This follows the lifting of the curfew that was imposed in the state by the Rivers State Government to check cases of insecurity in the state.
The Tide’s checks show that many of the airlines that operate international flights are yet to resume flight operations, even though the coast is clear for them to resume operations.
The Cronaux Airline, it was gathered, is the only airline at the moment that has fully resumed international flight.
Other airlines that operate at the international wing, like the Lufthansa Airline, Turkish Airline, and Ethiopian Airline are yet to resume operations. 
The Acting Head of Corporate Affairs, FAAN, Kunle Akinbode, confirmed the resumption of international flight operations at the airport, last Friday, saying the international wing is now open for international airlines to operate.
He explained that the curfew that was imposed in the state delayed the resumption of international flights operations, even when issues of Covid-19 standard protocols had been addressed.
“Now that the curfew is over and the international wing is open for flight operations, it is left for each of the airlines to work out its own schedule for operations.
“It will not be the duty of the airport management to sort things out for them and know when to resume. I know that some have started. Lufthansa has said they will resume next month, August”, Akinbode said.
The Tide reports that the international wing of the Port Harcourt Airport had been shut since the Covid-19 lockdown, and did not reopen when other international airports in Lagos, Abuja and Kano among others reopened for international operations.

Stories by Corlins Walter

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