Aviation industry needs serious attention, says Bi-Courtney

Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited, the operator of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, has said the country’s aviation industry requires urgent attention from the government.

The firm, in a statement on Friday, said the Federal Government should, as a matter of urgency, look into issues of Public-Private Partnership towards the provision of infrastructure in the industry.

According to the BASL, the PPP model has worked in the development of sectors such as energy, mining, transport and telecommunication in other countries.

It added, “It would take more than words to achieve a PPP that works; and it is only when such collaborations work that a country can enjoy the benefits. The advantage of a PPP is that the management skills and financial acumen of private businesses can create better values for money for taxpayers when proper cooperative arrangements between the public and private sectors are used.

“However, in Nigeria, there is apathy towards the practical operation of this model stemming from the attitude of the government, lack of investor security, lack of respect for the sanctity of contracts and the rule of law. Under this scenario, the case involving Bi-Courtney Limited, operators of the MMA2 airport terminal, is certainly not a good poster for the country.”

BASL noted that despite developing the MMA2 terminal to make it easy for the travelling public to get better service than any other airport in the country, the terms of the PPP, which brought the firm in, had continually failed to encourage more of such developments.

The firm said the only way for development to happen in the country was to attract the private sector to play a critical part in the journey.

It said the government, through its agencies, needed to encourage the investors by honouring binding contracts and agreements.

The firm said, “There have been ongoing engagements and sensitisation by officials of the same government on development, transformation, collaboration, among others, on the need to give PPP a chance since government alone can no longer shoulder the responsibility of providing all necessary critical infrastructure for the country at large.

“But how best do you convince serious-minded investors about the PPP arrangement when local investors are being treated as unwanted partners when relevant agencies, which are to create the enabling environment for genuine private sector participation in the infrastructure development of the nation’s aviation sector, across all levels, routinely breach binding agreements and contracts with sheer impunity and pay lip service to the ease of doing business in Nigeria.”

Federal Government resolves conflict in Digital Switch Over implementation

The Federal Government has resolved the brewing crisis threatening the implementation of the Digital Switch Over (DSO) from analogue television broadcasts in the country.

The National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen. Babagana Monguno, had summoned the critical stakeholders in the Digital Switch Over to a meeting to resolve some of the issues.

At the meeting were Senator-elect and Chairman of the Board of National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Alhaji Ikra Bilbis, Director- General NBC, Malam Ishaq Modibbo-Kawu, the CEO of Details Nigeria Limited and operators of Goth, John Ugbe.

The meeting was also attended by Chairman, Pinnacle Communications Limited, Mr Lucky Omoluwa, whose efforts to make the meeting possible was acknowledged by the NSA, and the CEO of Pinnacle Communications Limited, Mr Dipo Onifade.

The NSA told the stakeholders that the Federal Government was determined to uphold its policy on Digital Switch Over (DSO) and continue encouraging private investment in the nation’s economy.

The meeting facilitated a resolution of the five-year dispute which had challenged the smooth implementation of the Digital Switch Over (DSO) and led to missing of its set deadline twice.

The meeting facilitated the protection of the Federal Government policy on DSO from legal interpretation in law courts as well as salvaged private investment in the nation’s economy and attendant jobs creation.

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), in 2018, issued a warning notifying leading pay television service providers, DStv and GOtv, operating under MultiChoice, that their operations in Nigeria might be terminated in 2019.

The action of the regulatory agency not to renew the service operators’ licence, which was issued in 2014, was hinged on non-compliance with DSO White Paper.

The House of Representatives in April 2017, instructed its Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values to investigate Multichoice Nigeria’s ‘exorbitant charges’ for its DStv and GOtv packages.

DSTV, which is one of the South African brand’s biggest markets, has been around in Nigeria for about 22 years.

Beware of unfortified products, CPC warns consumers

Image result for Beware of unfortified products, CPC warns consumersThe Director-General of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, Babatunde Irukera, has alerted consumers on the need to consume fortified foods as they are beneficial to their health.

He said this at a sensitisation programme on food fortification organised by the commission in collaboration with Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition for Consumer Protection Associations and Non-Governmental Organisations.

Food fortification is the process of adding micronutrients to food by manufacturers or the government to reduce the number of people with dietary deficiencies within a population.

Irukera said there was a need for consumers to be aware of nutritional gaps in foods and deliberately seek fortified foods to make up for the deficiencies.

He said that an estimated 468 million non-pregnant women and 293 million children sufferred yearly from anaemia and night blindness due to intake of foods that were deficient in iron and vitamin respectively.

He also made specific reference to the incidences of birth defects like spinal bifida, which occur as a result of lack of intake of folic acid .

He said a tripartite meeting of the FCCPC, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria was convened recently to discuss ways of ensuring that food producers fortify their products to make up for deficient nutrients.

He said a similar meeting had also been held with food producers to intimate them of their obligation and also the need to properly label food packages.

The FCCPC DG advised consumers to be health and nutrition-conscious in their food selection and purchases to protect against the above mentioned deficiencies.

“The commission will support consumers’ access to adequately fortified foods so that they can get value for their money.

“Consumers have the right to receive adequate information about the contents of the food they consume in order to make informed choices,” he said.

NLNG to take FID on Train-7 in Q4 2019

Image result for NLNG to take FID on Train-7 in Q4 2019The Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas company on Friday announced that it would take a final investment decision on its new eight million metric tonnes per annum Train-7 gas plant by the fourth quarter of 2019.

It said funds were being sourced by the company in order to actualise the project, as the plant would grow the NLNG’s production capacity from 22mtpa to 30mtpa when completed.

The Managing Director, NLNG, Tony Attah, who disclosed this in Abuja, noted that plans for the FID to happen had advanced considerably.

He explained that the NLNG’s shareholders, consisting the Nigerian government (represented by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation), Shell, Total and Nigerian Agip Oil Company, were supportive of the Q4-2019 FID.

On how far his firm had gone in sourcing for funds, Attah said, “We are not far off as a matter of fact;  when you start a project of this nature, you will have estimates in mind. In the course of the presentation, the executive secretary (of the NCDMB) mentioned that this particular project is in the region of $4 to $5bn. But when he referenced the value network, it is beyond the $4 to $5bn that we will be spending in Bonny.

“It is also about the upstream development, which is the real gas that will come to us. That also is a huge investment of $5 to $6bn. So, potentially, the full value network is almost $12bn. We have gone to the market to raise that fund and we are very positive.”

Attah added, “This is the biggest opportunity I will say for Nigeria today. We have 600tcf (trillion cubic feet) of gas, which puts us as number nine in the world, but we are very aware of the 600tcf scope that would be proven. The issue with gas is the receiver and that is what the NLNG represents today as the receptacle for gas.

“We are here to enable gas. It is time for Nigeria and I am even challenged that Nigeria has ridden on the back of oil for more than 50 years, it is now time to fly on the wings of gas.”

The NLNG boss said his firm was focused on remaining competitive in the global LNG market and would prove that to the world with the Train-7 project, as well as end gas flaring in Nigeria.

“What we talk about is not competition but competitiveness, essentially as we stay competitive, we believe that we will continue to be in business,” he added.

Nigeria. ng domain grows to 134,320 in three months

Image result for Nigeria. ng domain grows to 134,320 in three monthsThe registration of Nigerian domain name, .ng country code top-level domain, grew by three per cent to reach 134,320 from December 2018 to February 2019.

An analysis of the data obtained from the Nigeria Internet Registration Association showed that the number of .ng domain increased by 1,197 between December and January 2019, and by 2,123 from January to February this year.

The data showed that about 14,696 new domain registrations were recorded in the three months under review, with 8,411 domain renewals and 280 domain restorations to other registrars.

The Nigerian domain name report showed that there were 114,325 active domain names at the third level and another 19,995 active domain names at the second level, 4,772 new registrations, 2,797 domain renewal and 88 domain restorations, making a total of 134,320 domains as of February  2019.

According to NiRA, the growing number of registration shows that Nigerians continue to embrace the .ng brand and indicates the efforts of the NiRA accredited registrars in growing the .ng brand.

The association stated that the .ng ccTLD was the second fastest growing registry in Africa.

The Internet traffic has also been on the rise with many global content providers localising their contents and driving traffic by 10, 000 per cent in the last five years.

The Chief Executive Officer, IXPN, Mr Muhammed Rudman, in a statement recently, explained that the measurement of the growth in traffic was from 2013 to 2018, adding that it could be largely attributed to the connection of some international content service providers to the Nigerian exchange point.

Rudman said Facebook, Akamai, China Telecoms, Angola Cables and a huge number of the service providers in the country were recently connected to the exchange point, driving traffic locally.

“For us, hitting 10,000 per cent traffic and exchanging over 110 gigabits per second in the last five years is a huge success. It goes to show that we are achieving our mandate, which is to facilitate Internet operations in Nigeria and to localise traffic as well as reduce local Internet routing cost,” he said.

CBN injects $268.60m, CNY39.09m in retail SMIS

The Central Bank of Nigeria, on Friday, injected $268.60m and CNY39.09m in the Retail Secondary Market Intervention Sales of the foreign exchange market.

A statement from the CBN said that the figures of the sales consummated on Friday, revealing that the sums were injected to meet requests of customers in the agricultural, airlines, petroleum products and raw materials and machinery sectors.

The  apex bank’s Director, Corporate Communications Department, Isaac Okorafor, also confirmed that the sum of CNY39.09m was for the payment of Renminbi-denominated letters of credit for agriculture as well as raw materials.

Friday’s transaction was in addition to the $210m injected into the Wholesale, Small and Medium Enterprises, and Invisibles segments of the market on Tuesday, the bank said.

Okorafor expressed satisfaction on the performance and stability of the economy, especially after the country’s 2019 general elections.

He attributed the level of stability to the bank’s transparency in foreign exchange transactions and interventions aimed at the diversification of the economy.

The Naira exchanged on Friday at N360/$1 on Friday in the Bureau De Change segment of the market.

Sterling recovers as PM May gets extension for orderly Brexit

Britain’s pound held above 1.31 dollar on Friday after recovering overnight when European Union leaders gave Prime Minister Theresa May a two-week reprieve, until April 12, to decide how to leave the European Union.

Sterling had plunged towards 1.30 dollar on Thursday in its biggest one-day fall of 2019 as fears mounted that Britain would crash out of the EU on March 29.

The EU has said Britain can have a short delay to Brexit, as requested by May, but she must first win parliamentary approval for her withdrawal deal that sets out the future relationship between London and its biggest trading partner.

May, however, has already lost two attempts to secure parliamentary support, and with the odds stacked against her for another vote next week the risk of a no-deal Brexit rose sharply.

The EU’s leaders have described the two-week extension as a “last chance” for Britain to secure an orderly Brexit.

“Last night’s move by the EUCO (European Commission) has lowered the immediacy of hard Brexit risk next week,” Nomura FX strategist Jordan Rochester said.

“But no deal can still happen if Theresa May were to wish it, either next week or on 12th April,” he added.

The pound was up 0.1 per cent at 1.3117 dollar by 0845 GMT, while its gains versus the euro were as high as 0.7 per cent to 86.14 pence – largely on the back of weakness in the single currency following disappointing data out of Germany.

Despite the rise, currency derivative markets signaled a growing caution the outlook for the British currency with one-month risk reversals on the pound versus the euro and the dollar plunging to multi-month highs.

Trader Moni to reach 10m petty traders

The presidency has said Trader Moni, a scheme to provide small funds for petty traders in Nigeria, is still on, and would reach 10 million petty traders in the country.

Senior Special Assistant to Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Laolu Akande, in a statement, said the government has continued to give the loans since the All Progressives Congress (APC) won the elections.

The presidency and the APC have been accused of buying votes under the guise of Trader Moni, and since winning the election, the scheme had been suspended.

But Akande said this is not the case, stating that 30,000 new traders have benefitted from the funds since the conclusion of the election.

He said: “Trader Moni, the interest/collateral free N10,000 loans for petty traders is on course. Ignore reports to the contrary.

“In fact since after the elections, about 30,000 new loans have been given across ten states. Also since traders have started repaying, N15,000 disbursements have also commenced to petty traders in Lagos, Borno, Ogun & Oyo states.

planned two million beneficiaries. And this is for all the 36 States and the FCT.”

The vice-president, who took the scheme to major markets across the nation before the elections, has since stopped the nationwide travel since the conclusion of the elections.

Trader Moni is an Empowerment Scheme of the Federal Government created specifically for petty traders and artisans across Nigeria

NEITI lauds NNPC, DPR others on compliance

The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has applauded its stakeholders in the oil, gas and mining sectors of the nation’s economy for implementing the principles of the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). It said this had led to the ranking of the country’s as making “Satisfactory Progress”.

Its Executive Secretary, Mr. Waziri Adio, expressed delight over cooperation extended to NEITI by government agencies including the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Federal Inland Revenue (FIRS), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the Central Bank of Nigeria, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and its agencies like the Mining Cadastre Office, Mines Inspectorate Department, were outstanding.

In a statement, Adio also expressed appreciation to the companies under the canopies of Companies Forum, Miners Association of Nigeria and Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS) operating in the extractive sector that had given NEITI  support during the validation.

In addition, the civil society organisations including Publish What You Pay (PWYP), Media Initiative for Transparency in Extractive Industries (MITEI) and the Media among others had contributed in no small measure towards the ranking in the highest category of Nigeria by the EITI.

“This highest ranking by the EITI is a major milestone for Nigeria and the invaluable roles of relevant millennium development agendas (MDAs), Companies and civil society organisations (CSOs) working to push for reforms in the sector are hereby duly acknowledged and deeply appreciated by NEITI,” he said.

He said the current trend of reforms in the country’s extractive sector made possible by the determination and commitment of its stakeholders to see change happen in a sector that is considered for now to be the life wire and mainstay of the economy was one of the determining factors for the ranking of the country.

Adio, who had earlier personally written letters to the different stakeholders to officially inform, congratulate and thank them about Nigeria’s achievement of the highest status in EITI implementation noted their support during the validation exercise which saw Nigeria make history again was  phenomenal and should be sustained.

He reiterated the commitment of NEITI to continue to work closely with its stakeholders to push for reforms and enthrone transparency and accountability in the extractive sector in Nigeria.

“On our part, we are committed to keeping Nigeria in this leadership position in the EITI community which our country voluntarily joined in 2003 and we will continue to crave your support to us as an organisation and to the full actualization of the NEITI mandate as enshrined in the NEITI Act 2007,” Adio said.

Zenith Bank ahead, pays N2.80 kobo dividend

Zenith Bank ahead, pays N2.80 kobo dividendZenith Bank’s financial result for the year ended December 31, 2018 has reaffirmed its market leadership as Nigeria’s most profitable financial institution.

The bank’s Profit Before Tax (PBT) for the year was N232 billion, up 16 per cent from N199 billion in 2017; while Profit After Tax (PAT) was N193 billion in 2018, up 11 per cent from N174 billion in 2017.

Shareholders during the Annual General Meeting approved dividend pay-out of N2.50 kobo per share, bringing the total dividend to N2.80 kobo per share, representing a yield of 11.2 per cent for the financial year 2018.

Zenith Bank’s profit before tax was achieved through the Group’s optimisation of cost of funds, cost-to-income ratio and cost of risk, ensuring that earnings per share strengthened by 11 per cent to N6.15 in 2018 from N5.66 kobo in 2017. Notwithstanding the challenging operating macroeconomic environment, the bank mitigated the knock-on effects through the growth of its net interest income and operating income by 15 per cent and 8 per cent respectively as it was able to ensure improved cost efficiency across its business.

Similarly, the bank’s total assets grew by six per cent, from N5.60 trillion in the preceding year to N5.96 trillion in 2018; while shareholders’ fund grew marginally by 0.5 per cent, from N812 billion in 2017 to N815 billion in 2018. Zenith Bank’s total deposits were N3.69 trillion for the year ended December 31, 2018, representing a 7.3 per cent increase over the preceding year’s figure of N3.44 trillion.

Equally, return on equity (ROE), and return on assets (ROA), improved to 23.8 per cent and 3.3 per cent in 2018 from 22.9 per cent and 3.4 per cent respectively in 2017. The bank’s gross earnings however dropped by 15.4 per cent, from N745 billion in 2017 to N630 billion as at end 2018.

Interest expenses reduced by 33.3 per cent, as the bank’s stock of low-cost deposits increased, with interest paid on time deposits declining the most by 61.1 per cent. Also, the cost of risk dropped to 0.9 per cent as against 4.3 per cent in 2017 while loan loss expenses moderated by 81.3 per cent. In the same vein operating expenses (OPEX), declined by 1.0 per cent although Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) cost increased due to the new directive to include off-balance sheet exposures in levy calculation.

The bank’s balance sheet remains robust as the loan to deposit ratio, liquidity ratio and capital adequacy ratios were 44.2 per cent, 72.0 per cent and 25 per cent respectively, all well above the regulatory threshold. However, there was a moderation in the bank’s capital adequacy ratio (CAR), from 27.0 per cent in 2017 as a result of the initial IFRS9 adjustment for the new expected credit loss (ECL) model for impairment recognition. The bank’s non-performing loans ratio, however, increased marginally to 4.9 per cent in 2018 from 4.7 per cent in 2017. However, this is still within the regulatory threshold and far below industry peers.

Also, the bank’s robust risk management framework ensured that the cost of risk reduced significantly from 4.3 per cent in the prior year to 0.9 per cent in 2018. This was achieved through the reduction in impairment charges by 81 per cent, N80 billion, compared to 2017, re-affirming the bank’s enhanced asset quality. In the same breadth, coverage ratio increased by 34.2 per cent from 143.4 per cent to 192.4 per cent over the same period, an indication of prudent disposition consistent with the bank’s known record of excellent credit risk management. As a result of the significant improvement in efficiency, the bank’s cost-to-income ratio settled at 49.3 per cent from 52.8 per cent in 2017.

The bank’s customer deposits grew by seven per cent led by an increase of N109 billion in savings and an increase of N122 billion in current accounts, providing it with a platform to rebalance its deposits mix. In 2018, costly deposits were foregone in favour of cheaper and more stable deposits resulting in a reduction of expensive and shorter dated deposits by N110 billion. This culminated in the reduction of cost of funds which declined by 40 per cent from 5.2 per cent in 2017 to 3.1 per cent for the year.

The Chairman of the bank, Jim Ovia, assured shareholders of the bank’s commitment of continuing to deliver superior returns in the years ahead during the financial institution’s 28th Annual General Meeting held in Lagos on March 18, 2019, at Civic Centre Lagos. Commenting on the bank’s performance in 2018, Ovia said Zenith Bank remains a clear leader in the digital space, with several firsts in the deployment of innovative products, solutions and an assortment of alternative channels that ensure convenience, speed and safety of transactions. “To continue to cater to the varied appetites of our customers in a constantly changing world and stay ahead of the competition, therefore, we have invested massively in new technologies and innovative solutions in the last financial year. This is geared towards ensuring that we continue to provide best in class quality services that create value for all our stakeholders,” he said, noting that Zenith Bank made significant progress in the adoption and integration of sustainable banking principles into its business, especially in its credit administration process.

Also, the bank’s efforts to deepen its roots in the retail segment have started yielding results.  This has led, in the main, to a remarkable increase in the volume of transactions across various electronic platforms as well as significant customer acquisitions. This growth in transactions on the bank’s digital channels continues to support the bank’s retail push as fees from e-products increased by 44 per cent over 2017 with retail deposit balances also growing by 25 per cent. The bank also stated that it would continue its investment in the retail end of the market to consolidate its leadership in both the corporate and retail segments.

Consistent with this excellent performance and in recognition of its track record of stellar performance, the bank was recently ranked as the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in 2018 by The Banker Magazine. Similarly, Zenith Bank was recognised as the Best Corporate Governance Bank in Nigeria by The World Finance for the sixth time just as Ethical Boardroom, a Europe based Boardroom watchdog reaffirmed this recognition by naming Zenith Bank as the Best Bank in Corporate Governance in 2018. Recognition has also come the way of the bank as it was recently named the Best Institution in Sustainability Reporting in Africa 2018 (SERAS Awards) and the Bank of the Year 2018 (BusinessDay).

According to the bank, its outlook for 2019 is positive, supported by improving macroeconomic conditions, relative exchange rate stability, and expected stability in the oil market.