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Nigeria, African Countries To Benefit From World Bank’s $22.5m Electricity Grant

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Nigeria and 18 other African countries would benefit from World Bank’s 22.5 million dollars additional financing for the Regional Off-Grid Electricity Access Project (ROGEAP) in Western and Central Africa.
The World Bank announced this in a statement issued on Friday in Washington D.C., adding that its board of Executive Directors had approved the additional financing.
It said the additional financing was in the form of grants from the International Development Association (IDA) and the Clean Technology Fund (CTF).
According to the statement, the project’s geographic scope would cover Nigeria and 18 other countries in Western and Central Africa, 15 of which were members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The countries included Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
Others are Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad and Mauritania.
According to the statement, the project is to support the development of the market for stand-alone solar products in Western and Central Africa, including a dedicated effort for the Sahel countries.
It noted that it complemented the 150 million dollars of IDA and 67.2 million dollars CTF approved by the board in April 2019 for the project.
“The project will support activities to accelerate the deployment of stand-alone solar products, in a sub-region where 50 per cent of the population does not have access to electricity and where less than 3 per cent of the population uses such innovative technologies.
“It seeks to harmonise policies and standards and business procedures to develop a regional market of stand-alone solar products, support entrepreneurs in business acceleration activities and provide credits and grants for the deployment of stand-alone solar home systems,” it said.
The statement further said the project was expected to contribute to human capital development by electrifying public health centers and schools, which were needed to improve health and education outcomes.
It also said the project would support job creation.
“For instance, it will apply in farming communities which can use solar water pumps for irrigation, solar milling equipment for product transformation and solar refrigerators to bring products to market.
“The project will support the small and innovative business enterprises through solar home systems and will make an impact in economic recovery, following the coronavirus pandemic,” it stated.
The statement noted that through the additional funding and restructuring, the ECOWAS had been appointed as a new implementing agency of the project, which would work on developing a regional market and supporting activities for entrepreneurs.
It added that the ECOWAS would coordinate the project activities with the West African Development Bank (BOAD), the other implementing agency of the project, which would support the provision of a line of credit with commercial banks operating in the sub-region.
Meanwhile Ms Deborah Wetzel, World Bank Director of Regional Integration for Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and Northern Africa, noted that the stand-alone solar systems had a large market potential in Western and Central Africa including the Sahel.
She, however, said that investments in off-grid solutions had lagged behind in the sub-region.
“The new financing will help address the important growth in demand for reliable electricity and will help create jobs for the millions of people currently living without an electricity connection or with unreliable supply.
“It will also help businesses and public institutions that will use modern stand-alone solar systems to improve their living standards and economic activities,” she said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the IDA, which was established in 1960, assists the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boosted economic growth.
It reduced poverty and improved the lives of the poor.
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Lawmakers Want CBN To Halt Naira Devaluation

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The House of Representatives has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to urgently put in place a policy to check further devaluation of the naira to the United States dollar and other international legal tenders.
The House decried that while the Nigerian currency was losing value, others in Africa were appreciating.
At the plenary on Wednesday, the House unanimously adopted a motion moved by the Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Pensions, Mr Bamidele Salam, which warned the CBN of the implications of further devaluing the naira.
The motion was titled, ‘Matter of urgent public importance on the need for the Central Bank of Nigeria to urgently put in place monetary policies to stop the free fall of the naira against the dollar and other international legal tenders’.
Salam recalled that the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, while addressing the Bankers’ Committee at a summit on the economy in Lagos earlier in February, informed the committee about the naira devaluation against the dollar.
The lawmaker also quoted Emefiele as saying at the summit that the official exchange rate stood at N410 to the dollar.
“That is 7.6 per cent weaker than the rate of N379 published on the central bank’s website,” Salam noted.
According to the lawmaker, while the value of the naira relative to the dollar had declined by nine per cent in the last six months, the South African rand and Ghanaian cedi had appreciated by 11.4 per cent and one per cent, respectively.
Salam also recalled that the CBN adopted multiple exchange rates in 2020, in a bid to avoid an outright devaluation. 
He noted that the official rate used as a basis for budget preparation and other official transactions differed from a closely controlled exchange rate for investors and exporters known as the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Rate Fixing Methodology.
He stressed that the naira had traded in a tight range between N400 and N410, while the NAFEX rate was different from the parallel market, considered illegal by the CBN, where the naira closed at 502.
Salam said, “The House is concerned that devaluation is likely to cause inflation because imports will be more expensive any imported goods or raw material will increase in price; aggregate demand increases, causing demand-pull inflation. Firms/exporters have less incentive to cut costs because they can rely on the devaluation to improve competitiveness.
 ”The concern is that the long-term devaluation may lead to lower productivity because of the decline in incentives.
 ”The House is further concerned that devaluation of the naira makes it more difficult for Nigerian youths especially in the IT sector, whose businesses are online and must necessarily transact businesses in the US dollars. 
“It also reduces real wages. In a period of low wage growth, a devaluation that causes rising import prices will make consumers feel worse off “.

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Four West African Countries To Buy Nigeria’s Unutilised Electricity

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Four West African countries, Niger, Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso, are collaborating to buy the unutilised power produced in Nigeria. 
The Chairman of the Executive Board of the West African Power Pool (WAPP), Sule Abdulaziz, disclosed this at the WAPP meeting on the North core project in Abuja, on Wednesday. 
Abdulaziz, who is also the acting Managing Director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), said the four countries were collaborating to make the power purchase from Nigeria through the North core Power Transmission Line currently being built.
He explained, “The power we will be selling is the power that is not needed in Nigeria.
“The electricity generators that are going to supply power to this transmission line are going to generate that power specifically for this project. So, it is unutilised power”.
He said Nigeria was expecting new generators to participate in the energy export for the 875km 330KV Northcore transmission line from Nigeria through Niger, Togo, Benin to Burkina Faso.
Abdulaziz said, “In addition, there are some communities that are under the line route, about 611 of them, which will be getting power so that there won’t be just a transmission line passing without impact”.
The WAPP chairman noted that the project, funded by World Bank, French Development Council and the African Development Bank, had recorded progress, adding that the energy ministers would be addressing security issues for the project at another meeting in Abuja.
He said, “Nigeria has the greatest advantage among these countries because the electricity is going to be exported from Nigerian Gencos (generation companies). 
“So, from that, the revenue is going to be enhanced and a lot of people will be employed in Nigeria”.
The Secretary-General, WAPP, Siengui Appolinaire-Ki, said the cost of the project was about $570 million, adding that part of the investment in each country would be funded by that particular nation.
According to him, the countries in the partnership, including Nigeria, are also being supported by donors.
He said the funding agreement was ready as partner countries were awaiting the disbursements.
Appolinaire-Ki, however, said the donor agencies had said they needed a Power Purchase Agreement between the buying and the selling countries to be executed before releasing the fund.

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Reps Probe N275bn Agric Loans Under Yar’Adua, Jonathan, Buhari

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The House of Representatives has resolved to investigate the disbursement of loans and credit facilities by the Federal Government in the agriculture sector since 2009.
The period under review covers the administrations of the late Umaru Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan as well as the present President, Muhammadu Buhari.
The resolution was sequel to the unanimous adoption of a motion moved by Hon. Chike Okafor at the plenary last Wednesday, titled ‘Need to investigate disbursements of all agricultural loans/credit facilities to farmers from 2009 to date to enhance national food security’. 
Okafor said, from 2009 to date, the Federal Government had approved the disbursement of funds to farmers in various schemes to the tune of over N275billion, ranging from Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme to the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending, to help farmers improve agricultural production and guarantee food security in Nigeria.
The lawmaker also noted that apart from increasing food supply, the schemes were to grant agricultural loans to large and small-scale commercial farmers to lower the prices of agricultural produce, generate employment and increase foreign exchange earnings.
He said, “The House is aware that since the approval, most farmers have not been able to access the loans due to stringent requirements being demanded by banks from prospective borrowers and the alleged siphoning of over N105billion meant for farmers by management of NIRSAL.
“The House is concerned that food production has not attained the expected level, despite the approval of over N275billion facilities to farmers. 
“The House is worried that the projected diversification of the economy from oil production to agricultural production and increase in agricultural output, food supply and promoting low food inflation will not be achieved if farmers are unable to access loans meant to increase agricultural production”.
Adopting the motion, the House resolved to mandate the Committee on Banking and Currency to “investigate disbursements and compliance of all agricultural loans/credit facilities to farmers from 2009 to date to enhance national food security in the country”.

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