In a bid to help small and medium-sized entrepreneurs compete favourably and scale up, the immediate past Executive Director, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Olusegun Awolowo, recently supported Bellafricana members with a N60 million grant.
The CEO, Bellafricana, Bukky Asehinde, said this opportunity is meant to support SMEs through the Export Development Fund (EDF) via the Export Expansion Facility Programme [EEFP] which issued a N60 million grant to the 15 awardees of the third ACE Awards as well as other Bellafricana members that have shown export potential.
He said EEFP seeks to democratize the discovery of exporters and their access to relevant government incentives to grow.
”The initiative supports businesses in Nigeria, with at least one customer abroad, or working on acquiring customers abroad and also supports businesses in Nigeria that provide services that an export business might need.
EEFP, founded as part of Awolowo’s legacy to grow Nigeria’s export industry, has provided a catalyst that supports the country’s active export businesses and export-ready businesses.
Speaking further, Asehinde said Awolowo, through the NEPC, had been supportive of the growth and expansion of not just Bellafricana but her members and giving more visibility to African-owned creative businesses.
She added that Awolowo, through NEPC, had sponsored and supported over 5000 creatives and is now wrapping up with this major grant, adding that creative entrepreneurs can scale up while growing the country’s export industries.
NCC: N208bn 4G Telcos Investment To Boost Internet Speed
Communication giants, MTN Nigeria Communications Plc and Airtel Africa have invested a combined sum of N208.56 billion in fourth-generation network and other capital expenditure in the first quarter of 2022, as part of efforts to boost fast internet service.
According to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Internet services in the nation is currently predominantly run on 2G and 3G networks.
It added that although 4G coverage is available to about 37 per cent of the population, download speeds are still uncompetitive with nations in the same income bracket as Nigeria.
The NCC in it’s release stated that telecommunications companies (telcos) have begun to increase their investments in 4G infrastructure.
MTN said it has rolled out 2,260 4G sites in the first quarter of this year to boost penetration.
In its earnings report for the quarter ended March 31, 2022, the company said, “Capital expenditure in the period was up by 80.8 per cent off a lower base in Q1 2021 and aggressive coverage expansion to capture growth opportunities, focusing on the 4G network and rural telephony programme.
“We are also frontloading some of our capex plan for the year as part of risk mitigation on supply chain disruption. Core capex, excluding the right of use assets, increased by 156.8 per cent, with capex intensity of 17.2 per cent remaining within target levels.
“We deployed 2,260 4G sites, representing approximately 85 per cent of the total sites deployed during the period and reflecting solid data revenue growth”, The firm added that 4G now accounts for 76 per cent of data traffic and covers about 72 per cent of the population.
In its earnings report for the financial year ended March 31, 2022, Airtel said, “We continued to invest in our network by expanding 4G coverage and building capacity to cater for the future needs of our customers and to continue providing them with high-speed data.
“Our expansion of 4G network capability across our footprint and connecting rural areas through deployment of new sites continued to be our two key focus areas. Our investment in the 4G network through single RAN technology has resulted in both expansion of our 4G coverage and enhanced network capacity.
“At the end of FY’22, 87.6 percent of our total sites are now on 4G, compared to 76.5 per cent in the previous year.”
The firm added that 99 per cent of its sites in Nigeria now have 4G capabilities.
According to the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (2020 – 2025), 4G LTE network is needed to achieve this kind of download speeds.
Withdrawal Of Naira Notes: Stakeholders Call For Caution
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has debunked rumours that it is planning to withdraw naira notes from circulation and replace it with its digital currency, the eNaira, which was launched last October by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Recall that stakeholders had warned the apex bank to desist from such move.
Director, Corporate Communications Department of the CBN, Osita Nwanisobi, at the weekend, noted that, the statement purportedly to have been made during a stakeholders’ engagement on eNaira adoption in Asaba, Delta State, was misconstrued.
He, therefore called on the public to disregard such information in its entirety.
The eNaira is a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) that was rolled out to improve financial inclusion in the country, reduce the cost of transactions, and boost security in the financial system.
According to Nwanisobi, the digital version of the Naira is meant to complement the existing currency notes and, therefore, will circulate simultaneously as a means of exchange and store of value.
On the benefits of adopting the eNaira, he said the digital legal tender, aside from the safety and speedy features, will also ensure greater access to financial services by the underbanked and unbanked populace, thereby enhancing financial inclusion.
Nwanisobi, therefore, urged members of the public and business owners to embrace the digital currency, the eNaira, saying it offers more possibilities.
Meanwhile, the eNaira speed wallet is expected to have another update which will allow users to pay bills and conumate online shopping payments directly from their wallets.
Stakeholders have, however, queried the decision of the government over planned removal of Naira notes from circulation.
They noted that in civilised societies, physical money exists side by side with other forms of financial transactions.
Speaking in an interview the The Tide’s source, the President of National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees of Nigeria (NUBIFIE), Comrade Anthony Abakpa, expressed wonder how such a policy could be brought out without enough preparation and enough awareness.
“The CBN ought to give enough time to enable Nigerians prepare for it. CBN should know that not every Nigerian is having bank account, talkless of e-money. Most of them who cannot write would not be carried along.
“What CBN needs most is ability to educate everyone on it and save people from demoralisation, because it will demoralise and be cumbersome to many people and they will lose confidence in government.
“CBN should run both physical and e-money together, not total removal of physical notes from circulation”, Abakpa said.
On his part, the General Secretary of Iron and Steel Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ISSAN), Comrade Lucky Odigie, urged Federal Government to desist from policy summersaults.
He said, “Federal Government should not start what it will not be able to sustain. In fact, this policy has already failed before birth.
“How can Government just wake up with policy that would add more burdens to the masses that have already been pushed to the wall?”
Odigie also advised FG to always put the interest of the masses first in all their planning in order to reduce harsh economic situations that are pushing some into vices.
NMDPRA Unveils Regulations On Gas Pricing, Pipeline Tariff, Others
The Nigeria Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) says it is drafting six regulations on midstream and downstream operations to bring clarity, improve business processes and ease of doing business in the sector.
This, it said, is to enhance efficient operations of the oil and gas industry.
The Authority Chief Executive (ACE), NMDPRA, Farouk Ahmed, who made this known in a meeting with members of the Independent Petroleum Producers Group (IPPG) in Abuja, said the regulations are on gas pricing, environmental management plan, environmental remediation fund, decommissioning and abandonment, gas infrastructure fund and natural gas pipeline tariff.
Ahmed also informed the Group that a working team, chaired by Mr Ogbugo Ukoha, Executive Director, Distribution Systems, Storage & Retailing Infrastructure (DSSRI) was set up to review the draft regulations, engage and consult stakeholders for smooth implementation when released.
“One of our key concerns is boosting local refining. Dangote and BUA refineries are coming on board. However, we want to see more companies investing in refineries so we can stop the importation of refined petroleum products, save our foreign earnings, create jobs and add value to the economy’’.
The NMDPRA boss noted and commended the gradual growth of indigenous players in local exploration and production of petroleum products.
Earlier, the IPPG Chairman, Mr Abdulrazaq Isa, said the IPPG was an association of 25 indigenous Exploration and Production (E&P) companies with the vision to promote the continued development of the Nigerian petroleum industry for the benefit of industry stakeholders and the nation.
Isa noted that timely communication with industry players was important at this time that the Authority is going through a transition period.
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