NNPC says Saudi Arabia’s price cut is no threat to Nigeria’s crude exports

Top official sources at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) have indicated that Nigeria is not in any price war or struggle for market share for crude oil with Saudi Arabia, ThisDayreports.

NNPC Shops for Investors for Ethanol PlantSaudi’s Aramco recently disclosed that it has priced its September shipments to its Asian customers at $1.10 below the continent’s benchmark. Bloomberg reported that the discount was $1.30 lower than the price for August shipments and 10 cents lower than estimates made by refiners and commodity traders it polled. However, a top official source at NNPC said that the corporation was not disturbed by the recent market decision of Saudi Aramco to discount its future oil sales to its Asian customers in a bid to gain more market share. He maintained that the NNPC has its market intact, but refused to disclose further details on this due to it’s confidential nature.

Another official source who also spoke on the development said even with the discount, Nigeria still has off-takers in both Asia and Europe who are loyal to its Bonny Light crude. He disclosed that these off-takers often get unannounced discounts on crude oil sales to them, adding that NNPC has firmly committed crude oil contracts with them. The NNPC sources also stated that other than the country’s current challenges of keeping it’s production stable due primarily to facility vandalism in the Niger Delta, the corporation was quite comfortable with its existing crude oil transactions.

Forte Oil plans to raise N50bn for expansion of it’s operations

Forte Oil Plc is to raise N50 billion in fresh capital through debt instruments before the end of 2016 for the expansion of its operations, Leadership reports.

Forte Oil

The group chief executive officer of Forte Oil, Mr Akin Akinfemiwa made this known recently at the company’s Facts Behind the Figures presentation on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in Lagos.

Akinfemiwa said, “We will be raising debt capital in 2016 and we are in discussion with NSE but for equity fund raising, it will not happen this year, maybe in the future.”

He added that “We want is to raise long term debts and make our interest rate very predictive. The first series of the fund will be between N10 and N15 billion.”

Firm introduces LPG as fuel for vehicles

New entrant into the Nigerian oil, gas and logistic industries, THLD International Logistic Limited says its coming into Africa’s largest commercial nerve centre, is to enable Nigerians use gas (LPG) as a viable replacement for the more expensive petrol and diesel, ThisDay reports.

LPG gas plant

According to the CEO of THLD, Olusegun Olajuwan, ”The company is to encourage Nigerians to cultivate the good habit of making use of gas/ LPG for their machines. These include cars and all manners of vehicles. It is cheaper and safer using gas to run your cars, power your generators and cook at home.”

“Our top of the class factory built on over 21 plots of land in Otta Ogun state is under construction. That is where all LPG trailers, bobtail, skid tank, cylinders, auto gas tanks and storage tanks will be fabricated and built locally in Nigeria. This shall invariably be the first of its kind in the whole of Africa. With this, we are providing job opportunities for Nigerians and encourage made in Nigeria goods” he added.

Dangote Cement to mine its own coal

Nigerian cement company, Dangote Cement, plans to start mining coal in Nigeria’s Kogi State by 4Q16 on the back of gas shortages in the country.

coalAccording to local media reports, Dangote Cement CEO, Onne van der Weijde, told investors at a company presentation day that the company had already shifted its cement plants to coal, using a blend of local and imported coal until the company’s mine began production.

Two coal mills came online at its Obajana Cement factory in July, with other coal mills resuming operation by the end of September.

The company’s coal mine at Ankpa would provide coal of sufficient quality to be used without blending and provide a significant cost advantage against natural gas. It also insulates the company against foreign exchange changes, as local coal would be priced in Nigerian naira, while natural gas is priced in US dollars.

Dangote Cement is part of Nigerian multinational, Dangote Group and is the largest cement producer in Africa. The company is controlled by Africa’s wealthiest man, Aliko Dangote, who founded the company in 1981.

AfDB makes USD9m equity investment in Fund for Agricultural Finance in Nigeria

The African Development Bank has approved a USD 9 million equity investment (approximately 12% of the fund’s capitalisation) in the Fund for Agricultural Finance in Nigeria (FAFIN) to provide expansion capital to agricultural small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

FAFIN is a first-generation private equity fund that provides financial, capacity-building and technical assistance to commercially viable SMEs in the Nigerian agribusiness sector, through a unique value chain-centric approach, and using a combination of equity, quasi-equity and convertible loan instruments. FAFIN implements its strategy and constructs its portfolio through a bifocal lens consisting of the twin objectives of competitive financial returns and measurable positive social impact.

The Fund is jointly sponsored by the German KfW Development Bank and the Government of Nigeria, through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD). The Fund Manager is Sahel Capital (Mauritius) Limited, a fund management firm incorporated in Mauritius in 2013.

The project is expected to deliver strong development outcomes from (i) household benefits and employment through the creation of a large number of jobs and the provision of certain agricultural products; (ii) positive gender and social effects through the implementation of out-grower schemes and supporting rural development; and (iii) private sector development through alleviation of financial constraints faced by agribusinesses and enhancing agricultural value chains.

The project’s contribution to inclusive growth is expected to be significant, given the large numbers of jobs to be created and out-growers to be reached at the level of sub-projects. Its contribution to green growth is expected to be low, because the Fund targets the agribusiness sector with some expected negative effects on the environment.

The Fund’s primary focus will be on SMEs across the agricultural value chain with crop value chain and geographic diversification. It aims at fixing broken value chains to increase efficiencies, reduce post-harvest loss, and increase smallholder farmer incomes and SME agribusiness profitability.

Investment instruments will be primarily quasi-equity (convertible bonds, preference shares and structured royalties) and direct equity. The ticket size ranges from USD 500, 000 to USD 5 million.

The Fund is aligned with the Bank’s Ten Year Strategy focusing on inclusive growth, strengthening agriculture and food security, and access to local SME finance; which is encapsulated in the Bank’ High Five Development Agenda for Africa, specifically Feed Africa and Industrialise Africa. It is also in line with the Bank’s Strategy for Agricultural Transformation in Africa (2016-2025), Strategy on Jobs for Youth in Africa (2016-2025) and the Bank’s Country Strategy Paper for Nigeria (2013-2017), which supports an enabling environment for agriculture.

Samsung unveils Galaxy Note7

Samsung Electronics has unveiled the Galaxy Note7 and said that the smartphone struck a balance between work and play, “enabling people to achieve more than what they thought possible on a smartphone.”

The President of Mobile Communications Business, Samsung Electronics, D.J. Koh, said that the new Galaxy Note7 featured a water-resistant body and Stylus pen, “top-of-the-line security that combines Samsung Knox with biometric authentication, including a new iris-scanning feature and an immersive entertainment, which features HDR video streaming capabilities.”

He said, “The Galaxy Note7 combines productivity and entertainment, with strong security features. Powering a robust ecosystem, it is the ideal device for those who want to achieve more in life. Life moves faster than ever now, so we created the Galaxy Note7 to help users get things done more easily wherever, whenever.”

He also said that the Galaxy Note7 stylus pen was more than just a writing tool. “It is the gateway to getting more done efficiently and accurately,” Koh said.

“Users can bring ideas to life the moment inspiration strikes without unlocking the screen by using Screenoff memo and simply pinning the memo to the AlwaysOn Display.

“In addition, the new Air Command functions, including Magnify and Translate, enable users to zoom in on the screen or convert languages with a simple hover of the stylus pen. It is even easier to access the best of the S Pen’s creative abilities with Samsung Notes, a new unified app allowing users to jot down handwritten notes, draw or edit memos from one location.”

According to Samsung, the new Stylus pen writes with ease and precision, saying that the smaller 0.7mm tip and improved pressure sensitivity provides a real pen-like experience.

“With the peace of mind that IP68 water resistance provides, the Galaxy Note7 S Pen lets users jot down their thoughts without interruption, even when the screen gets wet.

“Coupled with Samsung Knox, an industry-leading security platform, the Galaxy Note7 provides heightened security and privacy, with highly advanced biometric authentication, including fingerprint scanner and iris scanning technology. Galaxy Note7 also features a new level of user confidence with Secure Folder, a separated folder that adds an extra layer of authentication to keep private and personal information safe,” the company added.

ChatPay targets 100 billion social media users

Experts have said that the over 100 billion active users on Facebook, Twitter, WeChat, Skype and Telegram can now carry out financial transactions directly from these platforms with the aid of ChatPay.

According to them, ChatPay allows everyone with a social media account to conduct transactions from the home without visiting a bank.

They said that with ChatPay, Nigerians had the opportunity to perform various transactions ranging from funds transfer, airtime purchase, bill payment, location of Automated Teller Machine nearby, purchase of cinema tickets as well as viewing movie listings and trailers, all with the assistance of ChatPay.

The Chief Evangelist of ChatPay, Mr. Gbenga Adams, said the platform was a fusion of the advancement in robotics and artificial intelligence to create a unique and very personal experience in managing finances.

“Think of ChatPay as your personal financial assistant and this is why we have named her ‘Kiki’. She will help you run all your financial errands, which include transfer of funds to any bank in Nigeria, purchase of airtime, payment of your utility bills, hotel, flight tickets and much more. Kiki will help you find the closest ATM should you need direction with voice navigation,” he said.

The beauty of ChatPay, according to him, is that it is open to everyone irrespective of the bank where his or her account is domiciled.

Adams said, “As long as you have a Verve, Visa or MasterCard, all you need to do is download ChatPay from the Play Store or iTunes app store and connect with any of the social media platforms presently available – WeChat, Facebook messenger, Telegram, Skype, or Twitter. More will be added as we go on.”

With a mission to ease financial transaction and further create an avenue for young people, who would ordinarily transact in cash to be ingrained in the formal financial system through transacting electronically, Adams said the team at ChatPay believed that Nigeria was in for an experience they could only have imagined.

Visafone begins 4G Internet test run

Visafone, MTN Nigeria’s subsidiary, has begun the test run of its Fourth Generation Long Term Evolution (4G LTE) Internet technology service for smartphone users.

Our correspondent gathered that the introduction of 4G LTE services by the merged entity of MTN and Visafone would roll out “superior high-speed” Internet services in major cities and empower Nigerians with the latest mobile broadband technology.

The company said that the technology was expected to drive broadband penetration in the country from under 10 per cent presently to the targeted 30 per cent by 2018, in line with the Federal Government’s broadband plan and target.

“Our recent licence acquisition further demonstrates our faith in the future of Nigeria. We believe in supporting the positive transformation of Nigeria and we have demonstrated this belief through the level of our investment since 2001, which currently stands at approximately  $16 billion,” MTN Nigeria’s Corporate Executive, Amina Oyagbola, said.

On the specifics of the test-run and subsequent launch, the General Manager, Consumer Marketing, MTN Nigeria, Richard Iweanoge, said that the 4G LTE technology would be unveiled with the sole objective of providing Nigerians with the best, “fastest and most competitive ICT services for all stakeholders.”

He said, “We are pleased to set the pace once again as we break new boundaries with this test run, which will be available for now for our Visafone customers, who are provisioned on the 800Mhz band.

“When we roll out fully, especially with our 2.6Ghz spectrum, the launch will help enhance customer experience for our over 60 million subscribers, while ensuring greater coverage, access, affordability and ultimately a smart lifestyle for everyone.”

He added, “The 4G LTE rollout is a demonstration of the company’s commitment to accelerating the achievement of the country’s targeted broadband penetration by 2018.”


Canadian grower to assist Nigeria with ‘tomato Ebola’ crisis

Nigeria’s oil-heavy economy has been roiled lately – as it faces the same price pressures as other petroleum-producing nations, its oil infrastructure has been cut down by attacks from militant groups. Some business leaders and politicians have suggestedturning to agriculture to steer Africa’s biggest economy back on track. But there are problems there for farming, too.

Tomatoes are a staple in Nigerian diets, but the country’s crops have been devastated by the arrival of Tuta absoluta, a species of South American moth whose larvae feed on tomato plants. In some regions of the country, it’s been reported that more than 90 per cent of the latest tomato crop has been ruined, and the result is ratcheting up prices for consumers.

Thomas Canning (Maidstone) Ltd., which produces Thomas’ Utopia Brand canned tomatoes in Ontario’s tomato-rich Essex County, saw potential in Nigeria’s tomato sector half a decade ago, and estimates the country is now responsible for 10 to 15 per cent of its business. Not only does the company import their canned-tomato products – it also conducts food-safety courses on the ground there. And with the rise of the crop-killing moth – informally dubbed “tomato Ebola” – the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service has begun discussions with Thomas Canning to find solutions to reduce harm from the pest.

AMCON set to name Keystone Bank buyer

The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria has said it will conclude the process for the sale of Keystone Bank in the next two weeks.

Managing Director, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, Mr. Ahmed Kuru
Managing Director, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, Mr. Ahmed Kuru

AMCON said it was in the final stage of the sale process, adding that the result would be announced this month.

The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, AMCON, Mr. Ahmed Kuru, disclosed this in Lagos on Friday.

Keystone Bank, formerly Bank PHB Plc, is the only one remaining from the three bridge banks that were acquired by the corporation in 2011.

Enterprise Bank was sold to Heritage Bank in 2014, while Mainstreet Bank was acquired by Skye Bank in 2015.

Kuru said, “We are almost at the final stages of the process. I think in the next two weeks, we should be able to conclude and announce the result. You know it is a long process and because it is a financial institution, we don’t like to talk about it because if we do, it can have an impact on what they are doing.

“But we have gone very far and we are at the final stage; in the next one or two weeks, we should be able to come out with the conclusion of the process.”

AMCON was set up in 2010 to absorb bad loans in the banking sector as part of resolving a financial crisis in the country.

The corporation said that its debt recovery effort was being hampered by the economic recession, rise in inflation and the devaluation of the naira.

Kuru also said the six per cent interest payment on loans in its books made it suffer a loss of N304.35bn in its 2015 operating year.

He added that the corporation had so far recovered over N644bn, adding that that it was not set up to make profits but to help resolve the problem of non-performing loans in the banking industry.

The AMCON boss stated, “Now, loss is unavoidable. When we bought these facilities between 2010 and 2011, if you recall, there were interest elements on them. The obligors were made to pay interest, which in itself from the beginning was faulty.

“That is because the banks that sold these facilities to us had already provided for them. They were not charging interest at all because the businesses were dead. At the initial stage, there was a gap between the purchase price and the face value of the liabilities.”

He added, “So, for some of these obligors, by coming to AMCON already, they had a discount. Almost 51 per cent of those accounts were restructured.

“For you to now say AMCON is going to make a profit in the next couple of years is not possible, because these facilities are hard-core facilities and they are not performing. The only thing we can do is to continue to recover them.”