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MTN Belts Up To Fight Bharti Airtel In Nigeria …Obtains Mega Loans From Banking Consortiums

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One of Nigeria’s foremost telecommunications service providers, MTN Nigeria, is now expanding its capital base and repositioning itself preparatory to tackling head-on, the expected breakneck competition which the recent acquisition by India’s Bharti of Zain Group’s Africa holdings  will pose.

MTN Nigeria has obtained a loan facility of N250 billion from a consortium of 15 Nigerian banks. The telecom giant is also obtaining additional funding totalling $450 million from two foreign banks. The facilities were arranged by MTN itself and will deploy the proceeds to further expand its network across the country to brace up for the heightened competition which Bharti’s entry into the Nigerian market will pose. On Monday, India’s Bharti Airtel sealed its longstanding $9 billion acquisition deal with the Zain Group of Kuwait, in which it took control of its Africa operations, including Zain Nigeria.

Bharti has a reputation for trying to distress the competition wherever it operates, by crashing prices and expanding geographical coverage, among other strategies.

A day after closing the deal for acquisition of Zain’s Africa assets for $10.7 billion, Bharti Airtel said it would introduce the concept of ‘affordable tariffs’, a move that may initiate a price war in the continent. “We will not go for tariff cut. We will go for a long-term affordability strategy which is good for the customer and for the company,” Bharti Airtel CEO and in-charge for international operations Manoj Kohli said.

 “The monthly usage is 60-70 minutes per customer in Africa against 450-500 minutes in India. There is a pent-up demand. Tariffs are high in Africa. Our objective is not to introduce low tariffs in Africa… Our objective is affordability. We will see the level of affordability normal customers want,” he said. People believe that MTN is up to the task and that subscribers stand to gain from the heightened competition that is in the offing.

As at September 2009, MTN had 28.74 million subscribers, while GloMobile had 16.22 million and Zain had 14.93 million in Nigeria.

At the formal signing of the loan agreements in Lagos on Wednesday, MTN’s chief executive officer, Ahmad Farroukh, described the development as “another historical milestone in the development of telecommunications in Nigeria.” As the largest ever naira-denominated syndication in the country, this record-breaking financing follows the raising of a $2 billion facility in 2007 which won African Telecoms Deal of the Year award by Euromoney. At the time, it was the largest facility granted to a single country telecommunications operator in Africa. MTN Nigeria also won the award for its maiden financing in 2003.

The naira tranche of the facilities has a tenor of five years and the banks that participated in the syndication include Access Bank, Afribank, Bank PHB, Citibank Nigeria Limited, Diamond Bank, Ecobank Nigeria, FCMB and Fidelity Bank.

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Nigeria, 12 Others To Drive Global Trade By 2030 – Report

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A trade research report has indicated that Nigeria and 12 other countries will be responsible for the driving of the global trade to the tune of $30 trillion by the year 2030.
The research, which was commissioned by Standard Chartered and prepared by PwC Singapore posited that Nigeria and 12 other countries would be responsible for driving global trade to $30tn by 2030.
According to the report sponsored by the Singaporean organisation, the global exports would be more than double from $17.4tn to $29.7tn over the next decade, while much of the growth would be driven by 13 markets.
It said Nigeria would be growing at an annual rate of 9.7 per cent, with about $112bn in exports by 2030, through key corridors such as India, Indonesia and Mainland China.
It also stated that Kenya, the second African nation on the list, would be growing by 7.6 per cent annually, with $10bn in exports by 2030 through key corridors namely, Pakistan, Uganda and the United States of America.
The list consists mostly of Asian countries with Mainland China contributing the most at $5.02tn by 2030 and growing at 7.1 per cent annually.
Other countries are Hong Kong ($939bn, 5.7 per cent), South Korea ($972bn, 7.1 per cent), and India ($564bn, 7.6 per cent).
Bangladesh, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Saudi Arabia also featured in the report.
The report is based on an analysis of historical trade data and projections until 2030, as well as insights from a survey of more than 500 C-suite and senior leaders in global companies.
According to the report, global trade will be reshaped by five key trends: the wider adoption of sustainable and fair-trade practices, a push for more inclusive participation, greater risk diversification, more digitisation and a rebalancing towards high-growth emerging markets.
It said almost 90 per cent of the corporate leaders surveyed agreed that these trends would be shaping the future of trade and would be forming part of their five to 10-year cross-border expansion strategies.
The research also found a significant trend towards the adoption of sustainable trade practices in response to climate concerns and a rising wave of conscious consumerism.
It said while almost 90 per cent of corporate leaders acknowledged the need to implement these practices across their supply chains, only 34 per cent ranked it as a ‘top three’ priority for execution over the next five to 10 years.

By: Corlins Walter

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Currency In Circulation Rose By N129bn In Oct – CBN

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The currency in circulation in the country rose by N129bn to N2.97tn in October from N2.84tn in September, according to the figures from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The currency in circulation had fallen to N2.78tn in August from N2.81tn in July.
It stood at N2.74tn in June, N2.79tn in May, N2.79tn in April, N2.8tn in March, N2.78tn in February and N2.83tn in January.
The CBN said, “The currency in circulation increased by N465.47bn or 19.06 per cent to N2.91tn in 2020, compared with N2.44tn in 2019.
“In 2020, there were higher withdrawals by DMBs than deposits, due to the panic need to hold cash to deal with the emergencies and reduced banking hours due to restrictions to curb spread of the pandemic”.
The apex bank said to maintain public confidence and ensure integrity of circulated notes in the economy, it developed and unveiled a clean note policy and banknote fitness guidelines in 2018.
The guidelines outlined details of quarterly and yearly activities towards the achievement of this objective.
According to the CBN, the clean note policy encapsulates diverse currency management activities to preserve the integrity and maintain the quality of banknotes in circulation.
The policy provides that every newly printed and existing banknotes should conform to predefined standards before circulation and re-circulation in the economy.
Currency in circulation is defined as currency outside the vaults of the central bank – that is, all legal tender currency in the hands of the general public and in the vaults of the deposit money banks.
The CBN said it employed the “accounting/statistical/withdrawals and deposits approach” to compute the currency in circulation in the country.
It said this approach involved tracking the movements in currency in circulation on a transaction-by-transaction basis.
According to the CBN, for every withdrawal made by a DMB at one of CBN’s branches, an increase in CIC is recorded; and for every deposit made by a DMB at one of CBN’s branches, a decrease in CIC is recorded.
The transactions are all recorded in the CBN’s CIC account, and the balance on the account at any point in time represented the country’s currency in circulation.

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CBN’s eNaira Records 600,000 Downloads Within One Month

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Barely four weeks after its launch in October, the eNaira app of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has witnessed about 600,000 downloads.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, who disclosed this in a statement at the weekend, said, “In less than four weeks since its launch, almost 600,000 downloads of the e-Naira application have taken place.
“Efforts are ongoing to encourage faster adoption of the e-Naira by Nigerians who do not have smart phones.
“The support of the financial industry will be critical in the ongoing deployment of the e-Naira and efforts are ongoing to encourage continued partnership between the CBN and stakeholders in the financial industry”.
The CBN governor also said that building a robust payment system that would provide cheap, efficient, and faster means of conducting payments for most Nigerians have always been the focus of the apex bank.
According to him, the growing pace of digitization globally makes it essential that they leverage on digital channels in fulfilling this objective.
Emefiele disclosed that total transaction volumes using digital channels were more than doubled between 2018 and 2020, as volumes rose from 1.3 billion to over 3.3 billion financial transactions in 2020.
He added that digital payment channels also helped to support continued conduct of business activities during the lockdown.
The CBN boss noted that the robust payment system has continued to evolve towards meeting the needs of households and businesses in Nigeria. This, according to him, reflects the confidence people have in the payment system.
He said that between 2015 and September 2021, about US$900 million has been invested in firms being run by Nigerian founders.
“Notwithstanding these gains, close to 36 per cent of adult Nigerians do not have access to financial services.
“Improving access to finance for individuals and businesses through digital channels can help to improve financial inclusion, lower the cost of transactions, and increase the flow of credit to households and businesses,’’ Emefiele added.

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