A consortium of 30 French companies from France, has expressed readiness to invest in key sectors of the Nigerian economy.
The Head of French delegation, Mr Philippe Labonne made this known when he led the investors on a visit to the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), Yewande Sadiku in Abuja.
Labonne listed the key sectors to include banking, infrastructure, renewable energy and youth empowerment.
He said that the decision by the companies to invest in Nigeria was taken following a directive by the French Government for French companies to increase their investments in Nigeria.
According to him, the Nigerian economic environment is encouraging following the recent stability in the country’s foreign exchange market.
In a bid toward achieving their investment objective, Labonne said that most of the French companies would form strategic partnerships with their Nigerian counterpart.
“We are here to access the investment environment in Nigeria to enable us take advantage of Nigeria’s investment opportunities.
“We have about 30 companies in this delegation in sectors such as infrastructure, services, agriculture and banking and the purpose of this meeting is to identify key sectors where we can invest.
“We are interested in many areas such as energy, agriculture, services, especially toward youths and we will identify other areas subsequently,’’ Labonne said.
In her remarks, the Executive Secretary NIPC said that Nigeria remained a top destination of capital inflows in the African continent.
According to Sadiku, Nigeria is strategically located in Africa to serve the needs of many countries as a regional hub to the continent.
“We have a compelling population that provides the market which means that Nigeria can serve as a manufacturing hub for investors.
“Nigeria gets about six per cent of the Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) inflows and we remain a top destination of capital inflows.’’
While expressing delight for the interest by the investors, Sadiku said that France was one of the many countries that Nigeria was targeting in its focused investment strategy.
She reiterated the objectives of Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), which she said charts government expectations from an economic perspective to give investors comfort in areas to invest.
On investment inflows of FDIs, Sadiku said France appeared as number ten on the chart and represented about one billion dollars of the capital inflows that have come into Nigeria.
“But what we see of France is more than one billion dollars potentially of capital flows. As a country, we see potentially a lot more, if we work in building that relationship.
“And this event is one of such to deepen that investment relationship with the country and with the investors in the country”, she said.
On the Ease of Doing Business, she noted that there had been great improvement and the government was working actively on recording more improvements to ensure more investments in Nigeria.
FG Pays N405bn Interest On CBN Loans Outside Budget
The Federal Government has paid an interest of N405.9 billion from January 2022 to April 2022 on loans it got from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through the Ways and Means Advances.
This is according to data obtained from the government’s Medium-Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper 2023-2025.
There was, however, no budgetary allocation for it in the 2022 budget.
The Federal Government had previously spent N912.57bn in 2020 and N1.12tn from January to November last year on interest on Ways and Means Advances, despite the lack of budgetary allocation for it in the budgets.
CBN said on its website that the Federal Government’s borrowing from it through the Ways and Means Advances could have adverse effects on the bank’s monetary policy, to the detriment of domestic prices and exchange rates.
“The direct consequence of Central Bank’s financing of deficits are distortions or surges in monetary base leading to adverse effect on domestic prices and exchange rates i.e macroeconomic instability because of excess liquidity that has been injected into the economy,” it said.
The World Bank, in November last year, warned the Federal Government against financing deficits by borrowing from the CBN through the Ways and Means Advances, saying this often put fiscal pressures on the country’s expenditures.
According to the World Bank, the CBN’s financing and the fuel subsidy tended to adversely affect investments in human and physical capital.
It said the government had always under-budgeted for debt service because it failed to consider the cost of ways and means financing in its debt service allocation.
Also, a global credit rating agency, “Fitch Ratings”, in January 2021, raised concerns over the Federal Government’s repeated recourse to its ways and means facility with the central bank.
The agency said using Central Bank’s financing in Nigeria could raise risks to macro-stability in the context of weak institutional safeguards that preserved the credibility of policymaking and the ability of the central bank to control inflation.
Ways and Means Advances is a loan facility used by the central bank to finance the government in periods of temporary budget shortfalls subject to limits imposed by law.
Oil Firms Get Safe Oil Transport Route
Oil companies in Nigeria now have a safe transport route for their crude oil following the inauguration of the new Amukpe-Escravos Pipeline.
This is sequel to the vandalisation of the 180,000 barrels Trans-Niger pipeline by oil thieves, causing oil majors to abandon the facility.
The new crude oil transportation choice will decrease incidents of oil theft, which has affected the revenues of many oil companies in Nigeria and by extension the country’s economy.
According to reports, the new pipeline has a capacity to move 160,000 barrels of crude oil per day and the 67-kilometre-long pipeline is mostly underground, which hides it away from the prying eyes of oil thieves and pipeline vandals.
Sources say the dewatering for the new pipeline would be completed on Friday, while site Acceptance Test is being conducted with the movement of commercial-quantity crude volumes.
Already, some top players in the oil industry have started leveraging the new pipeline, one of which is Seplat Energy.
The Nigerian-based major oil company, which is listed on the floor of the Nigerian Exchange and the London Stock Exchange, said it has started commercial transportation of crude oil via the Amukpe-Escravos Pipeline.
Seplat Energy’s CEO, Roger Brown, said the development would aid the firm and guarantee a better delivery for stakeholders.
He continued that the commercial launch of the pipeline is very important for the company in the country as it offers more safe export routes which will guarantee higher revenues and profit-making for the company and enable the company to make a larger contribution to the country’s economy.
Meanwhile, Seplat and other top oil firms had relied on the Trans-Niger pipeline to move their crude products.
The pipeline was attacked recently, causing oil companies to abandon it. It has been difficult for oil firms in Nigeria to move products due to oil thefts which is the main reason the country has failed to meet its daily Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) quota of 1.77 million barrels of crude oil export.
The severity of the problem caused major companies to receive just five per cent of all crude volumes between October 2021 and February, this year which were transported via the Trans-Niger pipeline.
The economy received further blow recently as an oil pipeline with the capacity to move 180,000 barrels of crude daily across the country was hit by oil thieves, forcing it to halt the transportation of oil since June.
This further worsens the various incidents of crude oil theft which have become a challenge in the upstream sector, which stakeholders see as organised.
Bloomberg quoted an insider who is familiar with the issue as saying that the Trans-Niger pipeline has not been officially closed with the communication bandwidth which is about 15 per cent of the country’s average daily output.
Govt Designates Dry Ports As Ports Of Origin, Destination
The Federal Government, through its Federal Ministry of Transportation, says it has started moves to designate Inland Dry Ports (IDP’s) as Ports of origin and destination across the country.
Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Mr Emmanuel Jime, stated this during the launch of the Operational Manual for Inland Dry Ports in Nigeria, which provides the processes and procedures for the Inland Dry Ports.
Mr. Jime, who pledged that operators and the regulators would be mandated to abide by the processes in the manual to address the gaps, boost transparency, and accountability in the sector, said modalities are being put in place.
“The Federal Ministry of Transportation has begun moves to designate Inland Dry Ports in Nigeria as ports of destination and ports of origin to enable them function the same way a seaport will function.
“In addition to this, agencies of government, as present inside the seaports, will be present inside the Inland Dry Ports.
“As a matter of fact, we expect the Inland Dry Ports to be more efficient than the seaports because we are learning from the mistakes made at the seaports in order not to replicate the same at the dry ports.
“As you are aware, the Council is the supervising and implementing agency of the Dry Port projects in the country”, he said.
The NSC Chief explained that activities in the manual include container import by rail, container export by rail, container import by truck, container export by truck, customs controls and empty container storage.
“The Inland Dry Port projects were conceived as part of the Federal Government’s reform programme in the Transport sector to promote efficient transportation, enhance efficiency at our ports and to engender trade facilitation.
“Consequently, the Federal Executive Council granted approval for the establishment of Inland Dry Ports in March, 2006 at six locations across the Country namely: Isiala- Ngwa – Abia State; Erunmu Ibadan- Oyo State; Heipang Jos – Plateau State; Funtua – Katsina State; Maiduguri – Borno State and Dala, Kano State which is to be commissioned very soon.
“Address Dry Port operations procedures as it relates to export and import activities; align Dry Port Operations to international best practices; and ensure standard quality control in dry port operations.
“The Manual, according to him, is based on best international practice adapted to suit the Nigerian context. Indeed each dry port will have its specialties, organisational implementation, layout constraints, and services offered and would therefore amend aspects of the manual on a case-by-case basis.
“It may be pertinent to state that this Manual would be used as a measure of performance by the regulator (in this case, the Nigerian Shippers Council) and will be subjected to future review to be in tandem with obtainable best practices, upon agreement of the two parties (the operator and the regulator).
“The launching of the Manual marks yet another milestone in the successful development and operation of the IDP projects in Nigeria”, he stated.
Earlier, the Minister of Transportation, Alhaji Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, explained that the projects were conceived as part of the Federal Government’s Ports Reform Programme designed, among others, to decongest the seaports, while also taking shipping and port services closer to importers and exporters in the hinterland.
Represented by the Ministry’s Deputy Director, Inland Container Depot, Mr. Ewache Victor, the Minister said in addition to the above six gazetted Inland Dry Ports, approval was also granted for the upgrade of Kaduna ICNL Bonded Terminal to a full-fledged Dry Port.
“This was on the request of the Kaduna State government in 2008 resulting in approval by the Federal Executive Council. In April, 2018, the Kaduna Inland Dry Port was officially gazetted as a port of Origin and Final Destination, considering the level of development and the commitment of the Concessionaire to the project.
“Also, other Inland Dry Ports are being processed in the following locations: Elolo ICD, Kebbi State by Deltatlantic Nig. Limited; Dagbolu ICD, Osun State by Osun State Government; Onitsha ICD, Anambra State by Sea Shipping Agency Limited; Ibadan ICD, Oyo State by CRCC Construction Company Limited; AMES Edo ICD, Edo State by Atlantic Marine and Engineering Services Limited; Bauchi ICD, by Bauchi State Government; Enyimba Economic City ICD, Abia State.”
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