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.

Ecobank to focus on women entrepreneurs

The Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan, has said female entrepreneurs with focus to build shopping empires will be considered for credit facilities in the bank.

Akinwuntan spoke during the unveiling of a new initiative tagged: “Ecobank Female Entrepreneurs Initiative” which recently held in Lagos.

Some of the benefits include access to credit facilities with little or no collateral, network opportunities across Africa, financial advisory services, wealth management resources and loyalty schemes.

The initiative was designed to provide women with the necessary support to help them excel in their endeavours, promote and grow their businesses and generally position them for increased participation in the economy of the nation.

It was also part of activities of the commercial bank to mark this year’s International Women’s Day and also  recognise women as special and unique customers who require tailor-made service offerings.

He said: “Increasingly, we are seeing the change in the attitudes of women, and their economic viability as individuals and leaders in their fields. Their banking and financial services as a whole therefore present vast opportunities, if properly understood and managed.”

According to Akinwuntan, the launch is a charge to the society in line with the theme of the International Women’s Day 2019, to challenge the status quo and strive for a balance by empowering females in their immediate environments and subsequently, on a macro level.

In his words: “Our female customers will become our flagship ambassadors and we have created this platform for them in line with the sustainability requirements of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). These women will be provided with free health checks, training and empowerment sessions and other support tools from Ecobank. The Ecobank Female Entrepreneurs Initiative aims at empowering women by helping them build capacity to grow their businesses.”

The  Executive Director, Commercial Banking, Mrs. Carol Oyedeji, stated that Ecobank was proud to join the rest of the world to commemorate the Day with the special theme #BalanceforBetter.

She remarked: “This year’s theme leaves no one in doubt as to the dire need to raise more awareness that gender balance is not a women’s issue but a human issue that must be tackled for us to have a better society and that it should not be mistaken for a battle between the sexes.”

She called on corporate bodies to ensure women attain their full potential in all areas of society, including the workplace, which she said is vital to the communities and economies to thrive. “A balanced world is a better world. We must help forge a more gender-balanced world by celebrating and recognising women’s achievements, raising awareness against bias and taking action for equality,” she added.

Continental Re’s profit rose by 22% in 2018

Image result for Continental Re’s profit rose by 22% in 2018Continental Reinsurance Plc said its pre-tax profit rose by 22 per cent in the 2018 financial year.

In a statement on Thursday, the company said its pre-tax profit rose to N4.36bn in 2018, from N3.57bn in 2017, while investment income grew by 44 per cent to N5.36bn.

The statement said its gross premium income increased by 15 per cent to N34.19bn, while underwriting profit stood at N1.18bn.

Given the potential cyclicality of reinsurance underwriting business, it stated that the composition and structure of earnings reflected the benefits of the group’s geographically diversified operations.

It added that these gave it flexibility in generation of topline, enabling it to offset the impact of localised adverse claims experience with better quality premiums from other regions,broad asset mix and investment management prowess that smoothened the volatility of underwriting earnings.

The Group Managing Director, Dr Femi Oyetunji, stated, “Market and business-cycle insight are key. It is about deploying the right strategy and having the right operational balance. We have resources with deep local knowledge of the diverse environmental dynamics across Africa which marry their insights with strong technical capabilities to achieve sustainable positive outcomes in our underwriting and asset management activities.

“I must say that our group has once again shown resilience with our teams optimising production and maximising return on investments.”

According to the statement, the group’s topline growth was driven by its deepening pan-African presence.

From a segment perspective, it stated, Southern Africa, Eastern Africa, Central Africa and Francophone Western Africa grew at double-digit rates of 48 per cent, 25 per cent, 24 per cent and 12 per cent respectively, while Northern Africa and Anglophone Western Africa grew by six per cent and four per cent respectively.

The company said product mix remained stable with fire and engineering accounting for 54 per cent, followed by general accident at 16 per cent, life at 12 per cent, energy at eight per cent, marine at seven per cent, and liability accounting for five per cent of the gross written premium.

“Going forward, the work of orchestrating the strengthening of our regional operations persists with a focus on continuous renewal of our talent base, our solutions offering, our operating model, our core processes and the technology we deploy, in order to embed the assimilation of our brand and our distinctive value proposition into the evolving, and increasingly sophisticated African market,” Oyetunji added.

NB to launch solar-powered brewery

Nigerian Breweries Plc and CrossBoundary Energy Limited have signed a Solar Power Purchase Agreement for the installation and operation of a 650 kilowatts solar plant located in Ibadan.

The firm, in a statement, which was made available to the Nigerian Stock Exchange on Thursday, said the solar energy plant would become operational this year.

It said the project would be the first of its kind in Nigeria as it would supply one gigawatt annually to the Ibadan Brewery at a significant discount to the current cost of power.

The statement read in part, “The project will also reduce the brewery’s carbon-dioxide emissions by over 10,000 tonnes over the lifespan of the plant. In addition to helping to power our world-class brewery in Ibadan, the solar plant will enable us to deliver on our ‘Brewing a Better World’ initiative.

“This will support our parent company’s (Heineken NV) global ‘Drop the C’ programme for renewable energy, which is aimed at growing production-related energy sourced from renewables from the current level of 14 per cent to 70 per cent by 2030.”

FCMB demonstrates commitment to employees’ welfare

First City Monument Bank has said it will continue to encourage and execute programmes that will promote healthy living and work life balance of its employees.

In a statement made available to our correspondent on Thursday, the bank said this during the employees’ health week.

The bank stated that the week long programme was aimed at promoting the well-being and reducing the health risk factors of employees, as well as their respective family members.

It stated, “The objective is to generate sustainability through several health and exciting activities that ultimately enhance productivity. It focuses on good nutrition, exercise and early detection of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol, among others.”

The highlights of the programme, it added, were free and comprehensive medical check-ups for all employees of the bank, free mammograms for female employees to help detect early signs of cancer, counselling and tips on healthy eating and lifestyle, especially the importance of eating more fruits and vegetables.

It added that these were carried out in partnership with a team of highly experienced nutrition experts, health coaches’, medical specialists and counsellors.

More millionaires emerge in Fidelity Bank promo

Twelve winners emerged during the fifth edition of Fidelity Bank’s monthly draw on Get Alert in Millions promo season 3, which took place at the bank’s head office in Lagos on Tuesday.

During the promo, 11 customers won N1m each, a grand winner from Lagos won N2m, while other consolation prizes of television sets, refrigerators and generators were given to other winners.

The winners, who were selected through an electronic process, emerged from different zones in the country.

During the event, the Regional Branch Head, Chinwe Illoghalu, said the promo was a way of giving back value to the bank’s customers.

She said, “This is the fifth monthly draw in our series of the game season 3 of the bank and people are winning millions. It is just a promo for our savings’ customers and it is in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s financial inclusion policy and a way of showing our appreciation to our customers and engendering customer loyalty.

“We have given out N13m today and other consolations prizes and we are set to have more draws. What we are trying to do is to build customer loyalty and encourage savings culture among Nigerians.”

While noting that customers were already familiar with the traditional method of opening bank accounts, she said Fidelity Bank was encouraging people to open account through the digital method.

“We have taken it a step further to capture more of the value chain and you can open accounts through our USSD channels, social media channels,” she said.

She said that Fidelity Bank’s programmes were transforming lives as many of its customers were entrepreneurs.

“You can’t spend all that comes to you, savings will transform your life,” she said.

She said the bank was expecting more winners to emerge at subsequent draws as it still had a total of N31m and several consolation prizes yet to be won.

Huawei to deepen investment in Nigeria

Image result for Huawei to deepen investment in NigeriaHuawei, a global provider of Information and Communications Technology infrastructure, has pledged to increase its investment in the country and enable the digital transformation of all industries.

The company pledged to drive the energy, financial and agricultural industries with advanced technology in order to develop the digital economy.

The Chief Executive Officer, Huawei Enterprise Nigeria, Tank Li, expressed his delight at the growth of ICT in Nigeria and unfolded Huawei’s plans to deepen its investment in the country while speaking at the Huawei Nigeria Eco-Connect 2019 held in Lagos.

Li said, “Our partners are the most important platform. Huawei is willing and ready to share the profit with its local partners for a sustainable ecosystem, where all partners can grow together.”

“Today, I feel really amazed. Three years ago, we only had 20 or a maximum of 25 channel partners in this kind of event, but today, we have more than 500 channels registered. This shows the great confidence that we put in this country, Nigeria. It is still the biggest economic entity on the African continent.”

According to Tank Li, Huawei plans to enhance its relationship with its partners to further develop the Nigerian market by creating an ecosystem around the partners.

“In our enterprise business, our core value is really to build an ecosystem with our partners together. In 2019, we will raise our connection with the partners’ ecosystem and we will call it ‘Huawei Insight’, that means we will enlarge our collaboration with all the partners,” he stressed.

The Vice President, Huawei Cloud Business Unit, Mr Edward Deng, who was represented by Mr Olusoji Adeyemo, stated that the company was ready to assist the Nigerian government to transform the energy, finance and agricultural sectors, among others.

He said “Africa is one of the most diverse and promising emerging markets globally with tremendous potential and cloud services are expected to unleash the latent capacity and drive the growth in the country.

“We are looking forward to Huawei Cloud’s innovative technologies and services, such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence assisting African and by extension the  Nigerian government, carriers, and enterprises in a variety of industries such as finance, energy, agriculture, to leapfrog to a fully-connected, intelligent era.”

FG seeks to diversify stock market instruments

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, has said the Federal Government is seeking to diversify instruments of the stock market through the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

Ahmed, while speaking at the maiden Awards Night of the Securities and Exchange Commission, said the Federal Government was committed to building a vibrant capital market that would contribute to the growth and development of the country.

She said the ERGP policy objectives for the financial sector aimed to further diversify instruments of the stock market, review the capitalisation of the financial institutions and encourage lending to the real sector of the economy similar to the Capital Market Master Plan.

She noted that the capital market played a central role in the development of the economy through the mobilisation of long-term savings for investment, as well as efficient pricing of financial instruments.

Ahmed said, “The government is making a lot of efforts to diversify the economy, raise revenue and block leakages; efforts are also being made to ensure the mobilisation of resources that will aid investment in small and medium enterprises and provide infrastructure.”

“The main thrust of the Capital Market Master Plan aligns with the vision of the ERGP for the financial services sector. When the ERGP was being prepared, copious references were made to the 10-year master plan.”

She added that the ERGP vision for the financial services sector was to strengthen relevant market institutions and mitigate risk by building a healthy and competitive financial system, which would be better positioned to support the private sector and contribute towards the sustainable development of the economy.

According to her, the strengthening of the capital market is necessary for the government to be able to create jobs, wealth and increase the standard of living of the people.

She said, “The capital market is central to all of these efforts. As the ERGP recognises the power of the capital market to drive its own forms, the Capital Market Master Plan Implementation Council has proven to be an embodiment of recognition.”

The acting Director-General, SEC, Ms Mary Uduk, said the event was put together to appreciate the support and collaboration the commission had received from market operators and various stakeholders in the capital market, which had advanced the collective aspiration to accelerate the growth of the market and contribute to the development of the nation’s economy.

She said the implementation of the 10-year Capital Market Master Plan commenced in earnest under the guidance of the CAMMIC, chaired by Mr Olutola Mobolurin.

Uduk added that the commission had taken up the initiatives outlined in the master plan document in a systematic manner, while also painstakingly engaging with the government, its agencies and other critical stakeholders to achieve the set objectives of the plan.