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.

Nigeria produces 55.85 million tons of solid minerals –NBS

Nigeria produced a total of 55.85 million tonnes of solid minerals in the 2018 fiscal year, data released by the National Bureau of Statistics have revealed.

The NBS, in its mining and quarrying data report, which was released on Thursday, said Ogun State produced the highest tonnes of solid minerals among the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

The report stated that Ogun State produced 16.49 million tonnes of solid minerals.

This, it noted, represented about 30 per cent of the total tonnes of solid minerals produced in the year under review.

The bureau in the report stated that Kogi and Cross River states followed closely with 15.13 million and 3.49 million tonnes of solid minerals produced, representing about 27 per cent and six per cent of the total tonnes of the minerals produced.

On the other hand, the report explained that Bayelsa and Borno states produced the least volume of solid minerals with zero and 8,403.30 tonnes of minerals respectively.

The report read in part, “The mining and quarrying data for 2018 reflected Nigeria produced 55,850,075.43 tons of solid minerals.

“Ogun State produced the highest tonnes of solid minerals among the 36 states and the FCT. The state produced 16,497,405.35 tonnes of solid minerals representing 30 per cent of the total tonnes of solid minerals produced in the year under review.”

The report stated that limestone is the most produced solid minerals in 2018 with 27.19 million tonnes of minerals.

This, it noted, represented about 49 per cent of the total tonnes of minerals produced.

The NBS report added that Granite and Laterite followed closely with 9.62 million and 5.07 million tonnes produced, representing 17 per cent and nine per cent of the total tonnes of minerals produced respectively in 2018.

However, the NBS report stated that Garnet and Ruby were the least produced solid minerals in 2018.

NLNG to sign $1bn Train 7 project local content plan

The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board and the Nigeria LNG Limited will on Friday (today) sign the Nigerian content plan for the NLNG’s Train 7 project, estimated to cost $1bn.

The Executive Secretary, NCDMB, Mr Simbi Wabote, and the Managing Director, NLNG, Mr Tony Attah, met at the board’s headquarters in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, on Thursday and finalised arrangements for the signing ceremony in Abuja, according to a statement.

The Train 7 project is expected to ramp up NLNG’s production capacity by 35 per cent from 22 million tonnes per annum to 30 MTPA.

According to the NCDMB, the Nigerian content plan sets out the work scopes to be executed in-country in each project, based on the provisions of the Nigerian Content Act and existing capacities.

It said the document would form the operating guide for project execution and monitoring.

“It would also aid the maximisation of Nigerian content deliverables in the project, by giving first consideration to indigenous goods, services and human resources, as well as opportunities to Nigerian companies,” the board added.

The NCDMB said under the Nigerian content plan for Train 7, it introduced a provision that would ensure that “a lead engineering, procurement and construction bidder that has built capacity in-country is not disadvantaged with regards to cost.”

According to the statement, the overall scope of work on the Train 7 project includes in-country and out-of-country work, including design, engineering, procurement, expediting, transportation, management, construction and installation.

It said, “The timely finalisation of the NCP is a key outcome of the Service Level Agreement the board signed with the NLNG in May 2017. The SLA committed the two organisations to timely approvals and compliance with the Nigerian Content.

“The scheduled signing of the NCP is expected to enable timeous execution of other activities that would culminate to the planned issuing of tenders in the third quarter of 2019.”

The contract for the Front End Engineering Design of the Train 7 project was awarded to two consortia in July 2018.

The Manager, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, NLNG, Mr Andy Odeh, told our correspondent earlier this month that the consortia continued to make excellent progress as the design programmes were being executed on schedule and in line with NLNG’s demand for the highest standards of safety and quality.

According to him, the FEED work is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2019.

He said, “The NLNG is fully focused on achieving other pre-conditions, which will eventually lead to Final Investment Decision and the success of the project.”

Odeh said after FID on the Train 7 project, the construction period would last approximately four to five years.

CBN to maintain tight monetary policy, estimates 12% inflation

The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele, has projected that the current monetary policy stance of the bank is expected to continue while inflation is estimated to rise to 12 per cent and moderate thereafter.

He said this while making a presentation on ‘Setting the agenda for economic growth and business confidence,’ following the conduct of elections in 2019’, at the Businessday post-election economic agenda conference in Lagos on Thursday.

“The CBN has set the post-election agenda for the nation’s monetary policy, projecting that the current monetary policy stance of the bank is expected to continue while inflation is estimated to rise to 12 per cent and moderate thereafter,” he said.

Latest statistics by the CBN and the National Bureau of Statistics put the country’s inflation rate at 11.31 per cent in February.

Emefiele, who hinged the monetary policy stance of the bank on rising inflation expectations, however, noted that the bank would adjust the policy rate in line with unfolding conditions and outlooks.

Like it did in 2018, he said the bank would continue in its drive to ensure that the policy interest rate was set to balance the objectives of price stability with output stabilisation.

While basing the inflationary projection on productivity gains in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors, he said the Gross Domestic Product was expected to pick up in the first half of the current year owing largely to the continued efforts at driving indigenous production in high-impact real sector activities.

On the exchange rate policy, he said the bank, in spite of expected pressures from the volatility in the crude oil markets, would maintain its stable exchange rate over the next year.

“Gross stability is projected in the foreign exchange market, given increased oil production and contained import bill,” he said.

Emefiele expressed optimism that the country’s Balance of Payments would remain positive in the short-term, adding that the current account balance could improve further if oil prices continued to recover.

He said, “This will be supported by improved non-oil performance as diversification efforts begin to yield results to reduce undue imports.”

While warning that the issues that led to the economic crisis between 2015 and 2017 remained visible, Emefiele stressed the need to significantly increase the country’s policy buffers, including fiscal measure, to increase its external reserve.

He also reiterated the need to diversify the revenue structure of the Federal Government, in order to reduce dependence on direct proceeds from the sale of crude oil.

He advised that cheap financing would be provided to boost local production of priority goods in critical sectors of the economy in order to reduce reliance on foreign imports.

While highlighting the efforts made by the CBN in the past five years of its  monetary policy and development finance, he disclosed that the weakening of the Naira impacted the balance sheets of domestic banks.

 

He said the bank took some measures such as monitoring the financial position and performance of supervised institutions and the assessment of the risk profile and governance management practices of banks to guarantee financial stability.

Emefiele listed other efforts carried out by the bank to ensure financial system stability and the promotion of sustainable economic development to include the establishment of the investors and exporters’ window, conservation of foreign exchange through the restriction of access to foreign exchange on 43 items, and increased lending to the agricultural and manufacturing sectors.

The governor, while soliciting the continued support of policy measures that restricted import of items that could be produced in Nigeria as well as an increased penalty for smuggling of restricted items in Nigeria, expressed optimism that the Nigerian economy in post-May 2019 would witness growth and reduced unemployment.