MTN Nigeria Communications Limited has till May 31 to pay the balance of N55bn out of the N330bn fine imposed on the telecommunications company by the Nigerian Communications Commission for SIM card registration infraction, the regulatory agency has said.

In a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday, the regulatory agency clarified that MTN had paid a total of N275bn, leaving a balance of N55bn that must be paid by the end of May.

The statement said, “Following a negotiated reduction of the N1.04tn fine on MTN Nigeria to N330bn and in line with the staggered payment arrangement, MTN has, so far, paid N275bn to the Federal Government.

“Part of the fallout of the negotiated terms of payment of the fine is the listing of MTN on the Nigerian Stock Exchange and this is being done.

“What this means, according to the staggered arrangement, is that May 31, 2019 would be the deadline for the telecoms company to pay the sixth and final tranche of the balance of N55bn.”

It added, “After six months of negotiation and re-negotiation over the fine which led to the reduction to N330bn, it was agreed that MTN would pay a balance of N280bn in six tranches. This was in addition to the “goodwill” payment of N50bn earlier made by MTN to the government.

“Specifically,   MTN began the payment structure with the payment of N30bn into NCC’s Treasury Single Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria, 30 days from the date of the agreement dated June 10 2016.

“Subsequently, MTN paid N30bn on March 31, 2017; N55bn on March 31, 2018; N55bn on December 31, 2018,  and on March 31, it paid N55bn.

“The balance and final tranche of the payment will be paid by May 31 in line with the structure of the staggered payments agreed by MTN and the Nigerian government.”

The NCC. on October 20, 2015, imposed a fine of N1.04tn on MTN for infraction of the provision of the NCC Telephone Subscribers Registration Regulations 2011; for failure to disconnect 5.2 million improperly-registered Subscriber Identification Modules lines within the prescribed deadline, because the lines had economic activities on them without proper registration.

In an agreement reached by the parties involved in a way to avoid decision likely to cripple business interest of the operators  the commission regulates, it was also agreed that MTN would apologise to Nigerians, subscribe to the compulsory observance of Code of Corporate Governance for telecoms industry as well as undertake immediate steps to ensure its listing on the NSE.

African Alliance Insurance Plc, has said the company’s gross premium rose by 78 per cent in the first quarter of 2019 from the corresponding period of 2018.

In a statement on Monday, the Managing Director, Mrs Funmi Omo, disclosed this while speaking on its audited financial statements and 2019 targets.

“African Alliance Insurance has grown strategically in the past year. In the same quarter, we paid claims worth N1.8bn as against N1.5bn in the same period last year. We are in a strong financial position, and our recent investments and decisions back this,” she stated.

To further demonstrate its commitment towards financial inclusion and its brand promise to protect the future of every Nigerian, the company recently embarked on a nationwide Takaful campaign aimed at spreading kindness nationwide.

The campaign was a call to spread kindness and work together towards achieving life’s goals, the firm said.

The company recently embarked on its first rebranding campaign since its 58-year existence.

The rebranding which was the first in the company’s history, was led by Omo, to refresh the brand and align its internal digital transformation to its outward, youthful look and feel.

The new logo had two shades of blue and diamond shape.

“Life is precious to everyone of us. There is no other country in the world where people are resilient and determined to make the most out of life. Our new diamond logo demonstrates how special our customers are to us,” she said.

Omo added that the company’s focus on digital transformation would not only boost internal process efficiency but take the conversations to the customers on the digital channels for better customer experience.

“Right now, a customer can take a policy from the comfort of their homes on our website or through social media. It does not get easier than this. Now, our customers do not have to stress themselves to protect their loved ones. The reward for their love is convenience,” she added.

Samsung shares rise as Huawei struggles

Shares in Samsung Electronics climbed nearly three per cent Tuesday on the back of its chief rival Huawei’s mounting problems, including a decision by Google to sever ties with the Chinese mobile phone maker.

It is the latest in the months-long saga between Huawei and the United States analysts warn could see Chinese semiconductor demand fall, threatening a nascent Asian recovery in the industry.

US internet giant Google, whose Android mobile operating system powers most of the world’s smartphones, said this week it is cutting ties with Huawei to comply with an executive order issued by President Donald Trump.

The move could have dramatic implications for Huawei smartphone users, as the firm will no longer have access to Google’s proprietary services — which include the Gmail and Google Maps apps.

Investors bet Huawei’s loss could benefit Samsung, the world’s biggest smartphone maker which has been facing increasing competition from its Chinese rival, sending its shares up 2.7 per cent at closing on Tuesday.

Analysts say the US ban will damage Huawei’s ability to sell phones outside China, offering Samsung a chance to consolidate its position at the top of the global market.

“If you are in Europe or China and couldn’t use Google map or any Android services with a Huawei smartphone, would you buy one?” MS Hwang, an analyst at Samsung Securities, told Bloomberg News, adding: “Wouldn’t you buy a Samsung smartphone instead?”

Samsung accounted for 23.1 per cent of global smartphone sales in the first quarter of this year, according to industry tracker International Data Corporation, while Huawei had 19.0 per cent.

But Huawei’s troubles may be a double-edged sword for Samsung — also the world’s biggest chipmaker — if it leads to a plunge in demand for semiconductors.

China dominates purchases from Asian chip makers and bought 51 per cent of their shipments in 2017, Bloomberg reported citing a Citigroup analysis. Including Hong Kong, it accounted for 69 per cent of South Korea’s chip production.

“In our view, China’s restocking efforts for electronic goods will likely weaken and be delayed if the tensions and the ban stay longer, which likely will hurt overall demand,” the report said.

Last week, Trump declared a “national emergency” empowering him to blacklist companies seen as “an unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States” — a move analysts said was clearly aimed at Huawei.

The US Commerce Department announced a ban on American companies selling or transferring US technology to Huawei, with a 90-day reprieve by allowing temporary licences.

LaLiga’s clubs have posted revenue of Euro 4..47 billion in the 2017/ 2018 season.

The figure represents growth of 20.6 per cent over the previous season. With a solid, positive and growing set of results across the board, LaLiga has achieved the best figures in the competition’s history.

  The latest Financial Report of Spanish professional football, corresponding to the latest complete season of 2017/ 2018.

This is the largest positive annual change in recent years and particularly notable given that it occurred following several financial years in which it has been consistently posting double-digit growth rates and in which, furthermore, we are at the midway point of the three-year audiovisual cycle for the national market (and, by extension without coinciding with sudden increases in level or discontinuities).

LaLiga’s gross operating profit was Euro 945 million, operating profit was Euro 325 million, and the net profit for the year was Euro 189 million. In short, LaLiga produced a solid, positive and growing set of results across the board, achieving the best figures in the competition’s history.

The 2017/18 season was surprising due to two new drivers of LaLiga’s growth breaking onto the scene: commercial revenue and revenue from transfers, which have seized the central role held by broadcasting revenues as drivers of annual growth.

Meanwhile, in the case of revenue from player transfers, the annual increase of 104.3 per ent permitted turnover from this item to double in a single year, with an exceptional entry of Euro 1.018 billion, which is symptomatic of the significant capacity for creating sporting value held by the Spanish clubs and SADs.

LaLiga earmarks around two per cent of its turnover for corporate social responsibility projects, an amount which is significantly greater than the majority of companies and industries of a similar nature. This allows for the development of the pioneering initiatives mentioned in the report which give us hope and stimulate us, and of which we feel proud.

Furthermore, LaLiga’s clubs create a professional football industry which produces an impact on national GDP equivalent to 1.37 per cent and which directly or indirectly employs around 185,000 people. To this we must also add the over €4 billion which it contributes to the state coffers in the form of taxes.

FEC okays new AU import levies

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Monday approved a new import levy for sustainable financing of Nigeria’s membership subscription in the African Union (AU).

This was disclosed by the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed at the end of about seven hours FEC meeting.

According to her, FEC approved a rate of 0.2 per cent as the new import levy on Cost, Insurance, and Freight (CIF) that will be charged on imports coming into Nigeria from AU countries.

She explained that there are some exceptions on goods originating outside the territory of member countries.

She said: “The Federal Executive Council meeting approved a new import levy for sustainable financing of Nigeria’s membership subscription in the African Union. It approved a rate of 0.2 per cent as a new import levy on CIF  that will be  charged on imports coming into Nigeria but with some exceptions.

“The exceptions includes goods originating from outside the territory of member countries that are coming into the country for consumptions.

“It also includes goods that are coming in for aid and also it includes goods that are originating from non-member countries but are imported through specific financing agreements that ask for such kinds of exemptions.

“It also exempts goods that have been ordered and are under importation process before the scheme was announced into effect.”

The purpose of this new levy, she said, is to enable the AU member countries pay on a sustainable basis their subscriptions to the Union.

She said: “The council also approved that for Nigeria knowing what will accrue from this new levy will be more than what is required as subscriptions to the AU, that the balance that will be left will be put in a special account in the Central Bank of Nigeria and will be used to finance her subscriptions to multilateral organisations such as the World Bank, African Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank and institutions like that.

“And if there is any excess left from that in the revenue pool, it will be used to financed the budget.”

Turkish Airlines to open lounge

Turkish Airlines said it has concluded plans to open five passenger lounges at its new airport in Istanbul.

According to Turkish Airlines General Manager for Lagos, Mr. Yunus Ozbek, the lounges will be  available for Business Class, Miles & Smiles Elite Plus & Elite, Star Alliance Gold and Corporate Club passengers.

Before the proposed lounges, the airline had  three lounges –  Business Lounge; Miles & Smiles Lounge and Domestic Lounge. But, the carrier according to Ozbek plans to open the  Exclusive Lounge and Arrival Lounge in the next few months.

Ozbek said: “As the global carrier that flies to more destinations in the world, we are well aware of passenger traffic and constantly strive to adapt in order to provide absolute comfort, style and unique travel experience for our travellers. “These lounges have been uniquely designed to make traveling for Turkish Airlines’ Business Class, Miles & Smiles Elite Plus & Elite, Star Alliance Gold and Corporate Club passengers an activity like no other at our new home in Istanbul.”

Anxiety in aviation agencies over sack of FAAN chief

FAAN MD Sacked

Telecoms sector Q1 revenue hits N2tr

The telecoms sector boosted the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the first quarter (Q1) of this year with N2trillion, Communications Minister Adebayo Shittu said yesterday.

Shittu, who spoke during a valedictory media briefing in Abuja, also said telephonae subscribers’ base rose from 152 million in 2015 to 173 million by 2019 as a result of the massive investments of the government in the telecom sector.

According to him, broadband penetration in the industry reached 33.08 per cent as against 8.5 per cent in 2015 while the country is now targeting 70 per cent by year 2023.

He said while the quality of services has improved significantly, the country is targeting 120,000km fibre infrastructure by 2023 to enable the Federal Government address the challenges of the information communication technology (ICT) sector as the world moves towards digital economy.

Shittu said the government has not abandoned the plan to acquire another satellite in the orbit to facilitate the commercialisation process of the Nigeria Satellite Communications Company, stressing that negotiations with the Chinese government on the matter is on-going.

Speaking with reporters on the sideline, the Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof Umar Garba Danbatta also said MTN has   so far paid N235billion out of the N330 billion fine imposed on it three years ago.

Danbatta who expressed  optimism that the last tranche of N55 billion would be paid by MTN as soon as possible, described the listing of MTN on the Exchange as a significant milestone in the telecom sector as Nigerians can now buy shares in the company and be part of its success story.

He said: “Telecom’s sector contributes N2trillion to the economy’s GDP quarterly. That figure is not by the NCC but the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and it is verifiable. The contribution of the telecom sector to the economy stands at N2trillion per quarter.”

US, China trade war good for naira stability — ABCON

The trade war between the United States of America and China have led to higher crude oil (Brent) prices, which is good for the naira and Nigerian economy, the President, Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, has said.

The ABCON Chief said that since the beginning of April 2019, oil prices had remained above $70/barrel as the trade war raged.

He said the US sanctions on Iran and Venezuela had tightened the supply of crude oil to the market and put upward pressure on oil prices.

Gwadabe disclosed that Washington had last week, raised tariffs on $200bn worth of Chinese imports to 25 per cent from previous rate of 10 per cent,  pushing prices of affected consumer goods higher.

He stated, “The rising oil prices as a result of tension in the Persian Gulf and the increasing trade wars between two world economic giants, China and America will help to take the naira to another level of stability.

“I advise the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria’s management to take advantage of the two crises  – trade tensions and rise in crude oil prices by introducing  policy that will support growth and development opportunities.”

Gwadabe said that with the exchange rate stability being witnessed in the market, the next target of the apex bank should be to have a single digit interest rate that would stimulate economic activities and business growth.

He said that Russia and the Asian countries were already utilising their Yuan Swap agreement with China to strengthen their local currency, a strategy Nigeria was also expected to pursue.

The ABCON boss expected the CBN management to deepen currency SWAP pact with China and diversify commodity exports to the United States in other to diversify foreign exchange earnings for the country.

“Other great areas to focus for diversifying our foreign exchange earnings include promoting Diaspora Remittances for economic buffer and foreign reserves accretion as seen in India and United Arab Emirates where migration remittances have lifted their economies,” he said.

He said that effort should also be intensified by fiscal authorities in empowering the youths through job creation and higher productivity.

“The ABCON Executive Council under my leadership will continue to promote improved capacity and technological advancement among BDC operators. We are also committed to better skills acquisition for BDC operators to elevate them to viable monetary regulatory partners and lead player in exchange rate stability,” he said.

He commended the CBN management for promoting a sustainable exchange rate stability policy “that is in consonance with its price stability mandate.”

He said there was always an option for the CBN to either abandon the exchange rate stability mandate to accumulate foreign reserve and allow the naira to depreciate as was the case when the local currency dropped to N530 to dollar nearly two years ago, thus adversely affecting businesses.

Discos need $10bn investment to boost power distribution –AFD

The 11 power distribution companies operating in Nigeria need $10bn worth of investments to efficiently distribute electricity across the country over a five-year period, the French Agency for Development has said.

AFD disclosed this in a report it presented to operators in the power sector in Abuja on Monday, adding that the $10bn investment would involve new investors and would deliver quality electricity services over the projected period.

Findings and recommendations contained in the report were presented at a conference organised by AFD on Nigeria’s power sector challenges, as the agency stated that it carried out the in-depth study with the support of the European Union in order to contribute and design a way forward for the industry.

“According to the best estimates, the 11 Discos operating in Nigeria would need more than $10bn in five years. Also, innovative financing solutions must be devised, possibly involving new players,” the study, which was done by a consultancy firm, AF Mercados, under the AFD’s Technical Assistance Programme, stated.

In a presentation that was made at the conference, the Team Leader of Capacity Building and Technical Assistance Programme, AF Mercados, Jose Guerra, said the aim of the study was to help empower decision-makers in making the right decisions in Nigeria’s power sector.

The French agency noted that the AFD along with other development institutions involved in supporting the power sector in Nigeria had been witnessing the stall of investments in the sector since it was privatised.

It stated that this had led to the build-up of a major bottleneck, constraining access to electricity for the public and the economy, driving up the cost for users who now resort to diesel-powered generation.

It said the failed attempts at financing Discos led the Federal Government and its development partners to think out ways of breaking the vicious cycle that started from an initial infrastructure gap and led to today’s severe liquidity crisis with a revenue shortfall that is over $3bn.

The AFD report traced causes of the shortfall in the sector to the lack of a cost reflective tariff, customer dissatisfaction and lack of performance in the power sector in general, as these had led to a shutdown of access to finance.

In conducting the study, AFD said Mercados worked closely with stakeholders in the sector including the Discos since mid-2017, following the guidelines of the Performance Improvement Plans released by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission.

The study also highlighted key actions to be taken to solve the liquidity crisis in the sector such as segmenting the electricity market into manageable urban areas, rural areas, and potential eligible customers.

The other segmentations were informal settlements in urban areas and peri-urban areas, and the difficult to manage rural areas.

The report further talked about analysing the cost and revenue structure of the Discos on the various segments, as well as appropriate data that would help in valuing the needed investment linked to key performance targets to help in forming the PIP of each Disco as required by NERC.

The development partner, however, emphasised that there was a need to set up consistent legal and regulatory frameworks that would attract investors to sustain the power sector.

The study noted that there was a need for more investments rather than interventions by the Central Bank of Nigeria in the electricity market.

It noted that N600bn had been earmarked as the second tranche of the CBN’s Nigeria Electricity Market Stabilisation Fund starting this year or by 2020.