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PENGASSAN Urges FG To Privatise Refineries

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The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), has urged the Federal Government to privatise the nation’s four ailing refineries using the 49/51 per cent government/private investor model adopted for the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas.
The President, PENGASSAN, Ndukaku Ohaeri, gave the advice in Lagos last Friday while fielding questions on the developments in the oil and gas industry and other national issues.
The NLNG, backed by the NLNG Act, is owned by four shareholders, namely, the Federal Government of Nigeria, represented by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (49 per cent); Shell (25.6 per cent); Total Gaz Electricite Holdings, France (15 per cent), and Eni (10.4 per cent).
Ohaeri maintained that the model was a huge success and if the Federal Government had intention of reviving the refineries, it needed to replicate that model in the industry.
He said: “The shareholders at the NLNG are private entities who are in business, Therefore, there is a high level of responsibility among the staff members.
“You will not see any of them neglecting their duties because they are acquainted with one big man somewhere.”
He also made reference to the Eleme Petrochemical Company Limited that was sold to a Chinese firm, Indorama in 2006, saying that the company, after the sale, had also become a successful private enterprise that had kept on expanding.
The PENGASSAN president also noted that while the government had been successful in tackling terrorism, kidnappers, cultists and robbers still posed a threat to the peace of the society.
According to him, these vices stem from the high unemployment rate in the country, adding that if people are gainfully employed, there will be no need to engage in crime.
He said PENGASSAN “is an association and a critical stakeholder that fought for the enthronement of the democracy that we have. We stand for the progress of the nation.”

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Nigeria’s Economy Still Vulnerable To Shocks – LCCI

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The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has said that Nigeria’s economy is still vulnerable to external shocks due to fluctuations in global oil prices.
LCCI President, Mrs Toki Mobogunje, said this at a press conference on “State of the Nigerian Economy” held in Lagos, on Wednesday.
She said the mono-product nature of the economy would continue to expose the nation to volatility in the global oil market with its attendant consequences on the economy.
Mabogunje called on the Federal Government to intensify diversification efforts and embrace structural reforms to attract private investment and stimulate economic growth.
According to her, businesses still struggle to survive owing to multiplicity of levies, infrastructure challenges, sluggish growth, excessive regulation, high cost of credit and unfavourable government policies.
She said the challenges confronting growth of businesses had remained in spite of the country’s upward movement by 15 places in the ease of doing business ranking.
The LCCI president advised government to vigorously implement friendly policies to support expansion of businesses.
Speaking on inflation, Mabogunje advised the government to stem rising consumer prices through increased investment in infrastructure, especially power and transportation.
“The inflation rate, at 11.98 per cent in December, was the fourth consecutive month of rising inflation. Rising inflation has a profound welfare effect on citizens as it weakens purchasing power, as heightened food inflation naturally escalates poverty conditions.
“Policy makers need to worry about the increasingly intense inflationary conditions, especially the food component of inflation,” she said.
This, Mabogunje said, would help bridge the supply gaps and reduce transportation costs.
On foreign exchange and external reserves, she said the approach of supporting the reserves with foreign portfolio investment was unsustainable.
The LCCI president said there will be problems if portfolio investors develope apathy for Nigerian assets.
She also noted that the current security situation in the country had devastating implications for business activities, economic growth, food production and investment.
Mabogunje urged government to ensure a concrete and sustainable means of reducing youth unemployment by stimulating investment across all sectors of the economy.

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AfDB Moves To Invest $600m In Alternative Energy

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) says it has freed up $600 MILLION for investment in renewable energy in Africa.
The President, AfDB, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, who disclosed this in his keynote speech at the UK-Africa Investment Summit, said, “Huge opportunities exist for investment in renewable energy, especially for hydropower, wind, solar, thermal and geothermal.
“But many of these opportunities can’t be realised unless we invest a lot more in project preparation to make the projects bankable. The African Development Bank through its NEPAD infrastructure project preparation facility has helped to mobilise financing for $8.5 billion of infrastructure projects.”
The AfDB said the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa, based at the bank, had supported investments in excess of $800m in renewable energy.
He said, “With global climate change, and increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, there is an urgent need to climate proof infrastructure investments.
“The devastating cyclones in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe led to massive destruction of critical infrastructure. The same applies to coastal states, which are more vulnerable to coastal erosion and floods. Infrastructure investment must now be climate-resilient.”
According to Adesina, the bank used a partial risk guarantee to support the Lake Turkana wind power project in Kenya, the largest wind power generation project in Africa, which will produce 300 megawatts of electricity.
“The African Development Bank’s €20 million Partial Risk Guarantee essentially backstopped the government of Kenya’s obligations to developers against delays in the construction of transmission lines,” he said.
He noted that the bank launched a $1billion synthetic securitisation that it used to transfer risks on its private sector portfolio assets to the private sector.
Adesina said, “We are currently exploring with the DFID the use of synthetic securitisation for the sovereign portfolio of the African Development Bank. This will be used to transfer sovereign risk to the market, working with insurers and reinsurers in the UK. This could be a huge game changer for how governments can transfer their sovereign risks on infrastructure to the market.
“Because the bulk of infrastructure is financed through foreign loans, and the revenue streams are in local currency, it introduces high financial and forex risks to investors. Using swaps and hedging are effective, no doubt, but more can be achieved by focusing on local currency financing. This will also help with debt sustainability as the bulk of Africa’s external debt is on infrastructure.

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Why the UK’s Exit from the EU could Represent a Golden Opportunity for Nigeria

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Following Boris Johnson’s dominant election victory in December, it appears the UK is edging ever closer to Brexit. One of Johnson’s key campaign promises was to deliver on the results of the referendum in 2016 and allow the nation to “move on” from the chaos that has dominated British politics for more than three years.

Following his election victory, Johnson promised: “We can start a new chapter in the history of our country, in which we come together and move forward united, unleashing the enormous potential of the British people.”

He added that he wanted to make the 2020s a decade of prosperity and opportunity, but where does that leave the UK’s relationship with its other trade partners, and is there an opportunity for Britain to strengthen its ties with Nigeria?

The two nations have a long trade history and the latest data places Nigeria among the largest markets for UK exports. Although, at this moment, there is no existing trade deal between the UK and Nigeria, aside from World Trade Organisation ties and the UK’s status as a ‘most favoured nation’.

Their most favoured nation status means the UK enjoys the lowest tariffs, the fewest trade barriers and the highest import quotas, but could the ties to Nigeria become stronger in the fall-out of Brexit, and against the backdrop of the US-China trade war?

This economic conflict between the world’s biggest markets poses a threat to Nigeria, as Africa’s top oil producer, due to the tariffs being levelled by the two countries on the other’s imports.

Speaking in 2019, Muda Yusuf of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce explained: “The US and China are the two biggest economies in the world, so if they are having issues with respect to trade, it will affect the global economy, it will slow down growth and when we have a slowdown in growth, it will invariably affect commodity prices.

“So, we are likely to see a drop in crude oil price and it will affect Nigeria because we are heavily dependent on oil.”

The recent easing of the trade war between the nations could offer some respite, but could the UK’s severing of trade ties with EU member states offers an opportunity for stronger trading connections with Nigeria?

In May of last year, the UK’s then-Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, confirmed that Britain would aim to deepen its insurance sector ties to Nigeria through the introduction of Naira-dominated instruments in London’s financial markets.

This is great news for the global strength of the Naira, which has dropped in value against the British Pound by around half since the turn of the century. And the explosion in popularity of forex trading online means that these markets are now being evaluated and discussed more than ever.

The list of forex brokers operating online is growing globally, and Nigeria is no exception to that trend. As a result, more and more citizens are paying attention to the nation’s trade links – and paying closer attention to the Brexit picture unfolding thousands of miles away.

Source: Pexels

 

Source: Pexels

The two countries’ commercial relationship is already underpinned by more than £6.1bn worth of annual trade. UK brands remain in very high demand throughout Nigeria, especially luxury items, while Nigeria’s low-income tax rates make the nation an exciting prospect for British investors.

And as the nation edges ever closer to finally leaving the EU, we could see those ambitions of greater investment finally realized, but the UK isn’t the only country paying closer attention to Nigeria and recognizing its trade potential.

If their trade war with China continues to cool, the USA could further develop its presence in Nigeria beyond its present investment, which was placed at $5.6bn in 2018, and increase its activities to support SMEs in the country.

President Donald Trump emphasised America’s friendship with Nigeria on the occasion of the 59th independence anniversary last year, describing the nation as “our strongest partners in Africa”.

 

Source: Pexels

He also affirmed that Vice President Mike Pence and Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo were working together to build on the two countries’ “long-standing history of co-operation”. Indeed, the pair came together last June to discuss trade reforms, among other topics.

But the slowdown caused by the tensions with China is bad news for countries that are trade partners of the two economic superpowers, and Nigeria’s hopes of capitalizing on additional investment from America, and potentially reducing its debt profile of N26trn, could be dashed.

This perhaps makes the UK a much safer bet for future growth, and Prime Minister Johnson will undoubtedly be eager to promote trade discussions with new partners following his nation’s exit from the EU.

But it falls on Nigeria to make the most of this opportunity, as there will be many other nations seeking to make inroads, and capitalize on the UK’s desire to strengthen its international trade links outside of Europe.

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