Nigeria, US trade hits $35bn

Nigeria and the United States have been very good partners with about $35bn worth of trade between the two countries, the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Maikanti Baru, has said.

Baru disclosed this during a meeting with the US Energy Secretary, Rick Perry, and some African petroleum ministers, on the sidelines of the 19th CERAWeek Conference taking place in Houston, United States.

This came as the US energy secretary told his guests that the US would help Africa to become energy-independent.

Speaking at the meeting, Baru called for more integration among countries within the West African sub-region towards providing lasting solution to the region’s numerous energy challenges.

The Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Ndu Ughamadu, in a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday, said the corporation’s boss explained that energy integration across the sub-region was necessary as it would reduce unemployment and restiveness, as well as improve the economies of the affected countries.

Baru said, “Nigeria as a regional leader has already encouraged regional integration by first putting up the West African Gas Pipeline to ensure gas is available to West Africa. We are also doing the Trans- Sahara Gas Pipeline, even as we are intent on extending the WAGP to Morocco.”

He said the intent was to come up with a West African Power Pool that would put up power plants and other gas-based industries along those areas within the respective countries.

The GMD said Nigeria’s crude oil production had seen tremendous improvement in recent years due to the Federal Government’s efforts in ensuring security in the Niger Delta region.

In his remarks, Perry expressed his country’s commitment towards helping Africa achieve energy independence for the benefit of Africans.

He said, “On our part, we will support progress by engaging economically as well as championing open markets in societies. We endorse the modernisation of critical oil and gas infrastructure which leads to better security and diversification of energy supplies and exports.”

Perry described innovation as the surest path to energy security, adding that once countries innovated, they were greeted with greater economic growth, opportunities and national security.

“We support efforts to improve the regional interconnectivity. We also see energy access as critical to increasing prosperity and combating the cycle of poverty,” he said.

The US energy secretary stated that as the number one producer of oil and natural gas in the world, the US was more than well positioned to not only share its resources, but also its technology and know-how.

Perry said his country would work towards transforming Africa’s domestic energy systems so that it would provide power, create jobs, foster development, open up new opportunities and improve almost every facet of human existence on the continent.

“The US is very eager to share its energy resources and expertise with the African continent. As we go forward, we want to be a desired partner in ensuring that the global energy market is supplied with the diversity of energy sources,” he stated.

Other ministers and high level energy executives from African countries such as Ghana, Mali, South Sudan, Namibia, Kenya, Uganda and Sierra Leone participated in the meeting, NNPC stated.

Stock market reverses gains, reverts to losing streak

The Nigerian equities market has reverted to its losing trend, reversing gains recorded on Wednesday.

Investors lost N56bn as the market capitalisation of equities listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange dropped from N11.694tn on Wednesday to N11.638tn on Thursday.

Analysts at Afrinvest Securities Limited said the sell-offs witnessed in bellwethers – Dangote Cement Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc and Zenith Bank Plc led to the reversal in prior gains in the All Share Index, which declined by 0.48 per cent to 31,213.47 basis points while the year-to-date loss moderated to –1 per cent.

Activity level was mixed as volume traded shed 53.1 per cent to close at 177 million units while value traded appreciated by 13.2 per cent to settle at N2.560bn.

The top traded stocks by volume were Zenith Bank (80.8 million units), Sterling Bank Plc (16.8 million units) and First City Monument Bank Plc (12.1 million units), while Zenith Bank (N1.8bn), GTB (N228.2m) and Nestle Nigeria Plc (N109.4m) were the top traded stocks by value.

Similar to yesterday, performance across sectors was mixed as two indices closed on a negative note, two appreciated, while one closed flat.

The industrial goods and banking indices closed in the red, down by 0.5 per cent and 0.4 per cent, respectively, following losses in Dangote Cement, GTB and Zenith Bank.

On the flip side, the insurance index gained 0.5 per cent due to price appreciation in NEM Insurance Plc and Linkage Assurance Plc, while buying interest in Oando Plc led to a 0.1 per cent uptick in the oil and gas index.

Losses in Nestle neutralised the gains recorded in Dangote Flour Mills Plc, causing the consumer goods index to close flat.

Investor sentiment as measured by market breadth (advance/decline ratio) weakened to 0.4x from 0.7x recorded on Wednesday as nine stocks advanced against 20 decliners.

“Despite today’s sell offs, we expect positive corporate earnings releases to drive the performance of the equities market in the near term,” analysts at Afrinvest said.

NCC, NSPM to partner on security printing

The Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc and the Nigerian Communications Company are exploring areas of partnership in the printing of security documents in Nigeria and beyond, NSPM Plc has said.

The Managing Director, NSPM, Alhaji Abbas Masanawa, said this in Abuja on Thursday when he led the top echelon of the company on a courtesy visit to the telecommunications regulatory body.

Masanawa, according to a statement made available to our correspondent in Abuja on Thursday, also disclosed that the minting company was positioning itself to be able to secure minting jobs from abroad.

Responding, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, said he inherited a world-class organisation when he was appointed the helmsman of the commission in 2015.

According to him, he had since been building on what he inherited in order to add value to the processes and performance of the NCC.

Danbatta said it was for maintenance of standards that another government agency, the Bureau of Public Service Reform, gave the commission a platinum rating in 2017.

He said, “The verdict is out there on the performance of the commission as a word-class regulatory agency. We didn’t pass this verdict by ourselves. But it took a lot of hard work and commitment by both management and the entire members of staff of the commission for us to achieve the enviable position we are today.”

Derivatives market: NSE to train compliance, operations officers

The Nigerian Stock Exchange has revealed plans to organise a derivatives workshop for officers as part of its commitment to improving the capacity of professionals in the Nigerian capital market.

The NSE said in a statement that the workshop was targeted at compliance officers and operations officers of dealing member firms and designed to provide participants with insights into the structure and operating requirements of the NSE derivatives market.

The statement read in part, “It will also provide them with an understanding of the potential of the market, as well as risk management and return enhancement benefits.

“A derivative is a contract between two or more parties whose value is based on an agreed-upon underlying financial asset (like a security) or set of assets (like an index).

“Common underlying instruments are bonds, commodities, currencies, interest rates, market indexes and stocks.”

Stanbic IBTC to provide N18bn facility for Eland Oil & Gas

Stanbic IBTC, working with its group brand, Standard Bank Group of South Africa, has partnered Eland Oil & Gas,  West Africa with an initial focus on Nigeria, to provide a new accordion facility and increased borrowing base of $50m (about N18bn).

In a statement on Thursday, the bank said this was in line with its resolve to enhance business growth and expansion.

The facility is being underwritten by Stanbic IBTC Bank and Standard Bank, while Stanbic IBTC Capital Limited would act as a joint book runner, the statement said.

“An accordion facility is essentially an incremental facility, which allows a borrower to take an additional facility over and above what was originally agreed with the financier on the same terms as the original facility for expansion purposes,” the bank explained.

In November 2018, Eland Oil & Gas announced that it had successfully refinanced its existing reserve-based lending facility with a new five-year syndicated RBL facility in an amount of $75m, with the option to increase it to up to $200m through an accordion, subject to incremental production and reserves.

Speaking during the announcement, Stanbic IBTC said the deal was an opportunity to support Eland Oil & Gas’ business expansion drive in the oil and gas industry.

According to the financial institution, it will continue to leverage its excellent investment banking pedigree as well as the strength of its franchise in the Standard Bank Group, the largest financial institution in Africa, to consummate such big ticket deals that will not only help businesses grow but also help deepen key industries.

The oil and gas company announced that following a re-determination, the borrowing base amount increased from $103m to $134m and an initial accordion increase of $50m was being underwritten by Standard Bank of South Africa and Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, resulting in the commitments under the facility increasing from $75m to $125m. Of the commitments, $50m was currently drawn, it added.

Chief Financial Officer, Eland Oil & Gas, Ron Bain, who spoke on the deal, said, “I am pleased to announce the large increase in borrowing base on our RBL facility, which demonstrates the hugely accretive quality of the new wells drilled on the OML 40 asset and the growth in value they bring to our shareholders.

“Since refinancing the RBL in 2018 into a longer-term facility, we have the flexibility to diversify the capital structure of the company leveraging our position comfortably within our debt parameters and lowering the overall cost of capital.”

Climate change: World Bank, AfDB pledge $47.5bn for Nigeria, others

World Bank

The World Bank and the African Development Bank said on Thursday that they would together commit $47.5bn by 2025 to help African countries tackle the effects of climate change.

Despite contributing four per cent of the global greenhouse-gas emissions, more than 65 per cent of Africa’s population is directly impacted by climate change, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

The World Bank said it would spend $22.5bn over five years from 2021, to help Africa tackle the dangers posed by climate change.

The Interim President, World Bank, Kristalina Georgieva, told BBC Africa TV’sMoney Daily programme that Africa remained vulnerable to the effects of climate change through prolonged drought, floods and destructive storms.

“Unless we make Africa more resilient, we will see by 2030, 100 million people more falling into poverty rather than being pulled out of poverty,” she said.

Georgieva said the World Bank had also stepped up its efforts to mobilise investments in renewable energy such as solar, which contributes just 1.5 per cent of the continent’s electricity needs.

The AfDB said it would double its climate finance commitments for the period 2020 to 2025, pledging at least $25bn.

The President, AfDB, Akinwumi Adesina, made the announcement at the One Planet Summit in Nairobi.

Speaking at a plenary in the presence of Heads of State, including President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, and French President Emmanuel Macron, Adesina also announced that the bank was on course to achieve its target of allocating 40 per cent of its funding to climate finance by 2020, a year ahead.

The bank’s commitment on the target, the highest among all multilateral development banks, has progressed steadily from nine per cent in 2016 to 28 per cent in 2017 and 32 per cent in 2018, according to a statement.

It said considering Africa’s high vulnerability despite contributing the least to climate change, the AfDB had successfully raised its adaptation finance from less than 30 per cent of total climate finance to parity with mitigation in 2018.

Adesina said, “The required level of financing is only feasible with the direct involvement of the entire financial sector. Consequently, the bank launched the African Financial Alliance for Climate Change to link all stock exchanges, pension and sovereign wealth funds, central banks and other financial institutions of Africa to mobilise and incentivise the shift of their portfolios towards low carbon and climate resilient investments.”

He said it was not good enough to simply ask countries to stay away from polluting technologies.

“We have to be proactive in exploring alternatives. We will, therefore, be launching the ‘green baseload’ facility under the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa, to provide concessional finance and technical assistance to support the penetration and scale-up of renewable energy, to provide affordable and reliable renewable energy baseload,” Adesina added.

According to the statement, several donors, including Canada, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Italy, the United Kingdom and United States Agency for International Development have indicated their interest in the instrument, which will also help to replace coal.

It said the AfDB had played a critical role in building Africa’s clean energy capacities, adding that the bank’s last investment in a coal project was 10 years ago.

The statement said, “Additionally, and in line with its ambitious New Deal on Energy for Africa, 95 per cent of all bank investments in power generation over the 2016-18 period have been in renewables.”

Bank plans zero interest rate loans for women entrepreneurs

Women in Business at First City Monument Bank Limited have said they plan to introduce a proposition that offers zero-interest rate on loans to small and medium scale enterprises.

In a statement, they said women entrepreneurs in Nigeria who desired affordable and convenient funding to boost their respective businesses would have access to such funds.

The statement added that the development was in line with the commitment of the bank to empower women-owned SMEs (existing and start-ups), through financial support, advisory and value-added products to enhance customer experience and overall contribution to the growth of the country and its economy.

FCMB, it added, had established a dedicated desk for women-owned businesses under its Business Banking Group and equipped the unit with professional personnel to meet the needs of the segment.

The bank explained that the zero-interest rate product, which was for an initial period of three months, was designed as an all-round programme structured to prepare and equip the bank’s female owned SMEs’ customers to take their business to greater heights.

It added that the product came with additional benefits, such as capacity building programmes through training and financial advisory services.

The statement said, “80 women, every quarter, will have access to mentorship and training and 40 of these women will benefit from the loan. This means that by the end of the year, we will have mentored 320 women and 160 women will have enjoyed the facility.”

Commenting on the product, the Executive Director, Business Development,FCMB, Mrs Bukola Smith, noted that women had become important assets for social and economic growth, going by their business undertakings and exploits in the establishment and management of SMEs.

She said, “At FCMB, we recognise and appreciate the noble efforts of women entrepreneurs in the areas of job and wealth creation, poverty reduction, empowerment and the overall socio-economic development of Nigeria.

“Our zero-interest loan product is tailored to offer sustainable benefits and increase the productivity and contributions of women-owned SMEs. It will further unravel and unleash the true potential of women in entrepreneurship so that they can take their respective businesses to greater heights and compete favourably in the global environment.

“We have also put in place structures and processes to ensure transparent selection of the beneficiaries. We will, hopefully, increase the number of beneficiaries on a yearly basis and keep enriching the other value-added advisory services to cater to the emerging and pressing challenges women face in their businesses.”

FG paid N1.62tn cash call in 11 months –NNPC

The Federal Government paid a total of N1.628tn in the joint venture cash call from January to November 2018, latest data from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation have shown.

The dollar allocation to the JV cash call account was $3.712bn while the naira portion was N496.703bn, according to the corporation.

The nation’s oil and gas production structure is split between JV (onshore and in shallow waters) with foreign and local firms and Production Sharing  Contracts in deep water offshore.

The NNPC owns 55 per cent of the JVs with Shell, and 60 per cent of all the others, and the JVs are jointly funded by the private oil companies and the Federal Government through the corporation.

The Group Managing Director, NNPC, Dr Maikanti Baru, said in June last year announced that the corporation had settled all outstanding cash call arrears amounting to $5bn, and that this had restored confidence in the country’s oil and gas industry.

In 2016, the international oil companies operating in Nigeria agreed to give the Federal Government a discount of $1.7bn from the $6.8bn cash call indebtedness of the NNPC to them.

The federation crude oil and gas lifting are classified into equity export and domestic, both of which are lifted and marketed by the NNPC and the proceeds remitted into the Federation Account.

The equity export receipts, after adjusting for JV cash calls, are paid directly into Federation Account domiciled in Central Bank of Nigeria.

The NNPC said, “Total export receipt of $605.71m was recorded in November 2018 as against $640.35m in October 2018. Of the export receipts, $159.02m was remitted to Federation Account while $446.70m was remitted to fund the JV cost recovery for November to guarantee current and future production.

“Total export crude oil and gas receipt for the period November 2017 to November 2018 stood at $5.91bn. Out of which the sum of $4.24bn was transferred to JV cash call as the first line charge and the balance of $1.67bn was paid into Federation Account.”

From the naira proceeds got from the sale of domestic crude oil and gas from November 2017 to November 2018, a total of N569.99bn was transferred to the JV cash call account.

The NNPC recently said it had signed two sets of alternative financing agreements with NNPC/Chevron Nigeria Limited JV and NNPC/Shell Petroleum Development Company JV on JV projects.

Heritage Bank supports startups, offers $25,000 grants

Heritage Bank Plc says it has adopted a focused approach that removes barriers and spurs the critical sector of the economy to grow with the introduction of its innovation accelerator programme tagged, ‘HB LAB’.

In a statement, it said the maiden edition of HB LAB was a 12-week programme, expected to provide technology startups with enabling environment, resources and support required to innovate and accelerate impactful solutions with the potential to radically improve financial inclusion, agriculture and other related problems affecting critical sectors of the economy.

The application portal, which was launched at the end of January 2019, closed recently, it stated.

The bank said about 154 applicants who applied were reviewed and 24 of them scored above 60, while the final selection would produce seven successful applicants and the winner would emerge.

Speaking on the HB LAB, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the bank, Ifie Sekibo, observed that in Nigeria, technology startups still accounted for a relatively small share of all businesses, but had an outsized impact on economic growth because they provided better-paying, longer-lasting jobs than other start-ups, and they contributed more to innovation, productivity, and competitiveness.

He disclosed that the team with the most compelling solution would be awarded a $25,000 grant alongside access to workspace and Information Technology infrastructure for solution testing and development for a defined period.

According to him, the HB Innovation Lab Programme is open to product development teams and technology-driven startups across Nigeria.

Sekibo stated that the critical areas of focus were financial technology, agriculture, education, digital, security and power.

He noted that the application requirements comprised names, ages, genders, contact numbers, home and email addresses of the participants.

Participants who had previously enlisted to participate in any entrepreneurial/innovation programme with a current website or demo reference point, were expected to discuss idea/solutions not more than 140-character limit.

It added that such participants discussed problem statement (not more than 140-character limit), ideation/solution stage (not more than 140 characters), target market (maximum of 150 words), any challenge(s) faced requiring professional intervention (maximum of 150 words), introduced its team (maximum of 150 words) and upload business plan.

Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) Plc, Chief Execultive  Officer, Mr Adeoye Fadeyibi, has assured electricity consumers within EKEDC’s network of safe and reliable power supply.

Fadeyibi, who gave the assurance when EKEDC signed conditions of service with the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) and Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC) in Lagos, lauded the successful conclusion and agreement reached with the labour groups in the power sector to sign the conditions of service. He urged the unions’ support to ensuring workers conditions of service in the DisCo implemented without rancour.

The talks on the conditions of service, it was learnt, started since 2016 but the agreement on the side of the Eko DisCo management and the labour was achieved this month.

Fadeyibi said the official signing of the documents was a great success to the company and power sector in general, and urged workers to reflect that in ensuring effective service delivery to consumers. “Today marks another turning point in the company. It is a good day because the issue had lingered for years now.

“I’m celebrating today because both the management and the unions are agreeing on mutual understanding for the betterment of the company and workers. This would foster better understanding and mutual working relationship between the workers and management,” he said, adding that leaders of both labour groups had agreed to sign for the development and growth of the organisation geared towards improved power supply.

He reiterated the management’s support to the growth and improvement of workers welfare in the organisation. The EkEDC’s boss said activities within the  company have increased, adding that everybody should be committed to the job in ensuring better services to the teaming consumers.

He added that the company has improved its customer’s service delivery and boosted consumers’ confidence, which have boosted revenue.  “Therefore, I urge workers to put in their best in ensuring effective service delivery to electricity consumers to retain Eko DisCo’s position as the number one distribution company in Nigeria.”

United Labour Congress (ULC) President and General-Secretary, National Union of Electricity Employees, Comrade Joe Ajaero, led junior staff union members and the Deputy President, SSAEAC, Comrade Jacob O. Adetunji, led the senior staff union members to the signing ceremony. They said with the signing of the conditions of service, “we (EKEDC management and the labour unions) are bound by certain rules and regulations and we will follow the law to the later”.

Other NUEE officers in attendance are NUEE  President Martin Uzoegwu; NUEE National Treasurer, Mercy Oronsanye and NUEE Chairman, Lagos Chapter Bisi Idowu, among others.