Zuckerberg Pledges Support for Nigerian Tech Startups, SMEs
The founder and Chief Executive Officer of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, wednesday assured Nigerian technology startups and the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria of Facebook’s support that will enhance easy access and connectivity to the internet.
Zuckerberg, who made the pledge in Lagos while addressing technology startups on the second day of his visit to Nigeria, said Nigerian, which is the largest African market for Facebook, currently has 18 million people that are connected to Facebook, while the global figure of Facebook account is close to two billion people.
He said supporting SMEs in Nigeria and Africa is key to economic development because SMEs drive economies, and that Facebook has created 16 million free pages on the Facebook platform for SME business globally.
Excited at his visit to Nigeria, Zuckerberg said he specifically visited Nigeria to meet with technology startups and to share in the views about various software apps they have developed to address immediate and long term challenges in the country.
“Nigeria currently has 18 million people on Facebook, that interact and do different kinds of online businesses, among them are SMEs and Facebook is willing to support them to populate their numbers and provide easy access to connectivity and the internet,” Zuckerberg said during the question and answer session he had with startups and software developers in Lagos.
He however challenged the Nigerian government to reduce cost of internet access, and to create more access to internet for her citizens, as well as raise awareness campaign on the benefits of the internet, especially for rural dwellers.
He called for infrastructural development on the African continent and challenged software developers to focus more on local content in building apps that will address specific needs.
Facebook’s Director of Global Product Partnerships, Ime Archibong, who coordinated the developers, said: “When I came to Lagos back in May this year, I was really struck by the energy of the tech scene in Lagos, and by how many of the developers were building relevant apps. As someone with strong links to Nigeria, I have been trying to expose Mark to this ecosystem for a while, and I am very excited for him to be able to come to Nigeria to meet some of Nigeria’s top entrepreneurs and apps developers.”
While stressing the need to develop apps using local contents, Zuckerberg said building content should be a priority for Nigerian apps developers so that there could be variety of apps that could work with different technologies like 2G, 3G, and 4G.
Making some clarifications about Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, Zuckerberg said both are two different platforms, even though they are related in the area of text messages.
He promised to populate both platforms and make them learning and training platforms.
He said language remained key to communication and that Facebook would continue to extend the language of communication on the Facebook platform. According to him, Facebook is currently working hard to bring additional 10 languages on the Facebook platform.
Speaking on the success of Facebook and its future projection, Zuckerberg said predictions of the future is best articulated by creating and self determination.
Admitting that his visit to Nigeria was unannounced and without government preparation for any kind of reception, Zuckerberg said his visit was primarily based on meeting the technology startups in Nigeria, having heard so much about their zeal for fantastic apps development.
Oil Slips With Energy Prices in Europe Halts Record Rally
Oil dipped toward $72 a barrel in New York after prices of energy commodities in Europe halted a record-breaking run.
West Texas Intermediate futures fell 0.6%, having reached the highest intraday level since early August on Wednesday. A rally in European gas and power prices to unprecedented levels was set to end as industries were starting to curb consumption. The surge in energy rates could temporarily boost diesel demand by as much as 2 million barrels a day as consumers switch fuels, according to Citigroup Inc.
Still, the bullish signals for oil are continuing to increase. U.S. crude inventories dropped by more than 6 million barrels last week to a two-year low, according to government figures, as coronavirus vaccination programs permit economies to reopen. Chevron Corp. Chief Executive Officer Mike Wirth warned that the world is facing high energy prices for the foreseeable future.
The investor optimism is showing up in key oil time spreads widening. Trading of bullish Brent options also surged to a two-month high on Wednesday.
Prices have been pushed higher in recent days “by supply outages combined with expectations of switching from gas to oil in the power sector,” said Helge Andre Martinsen, a senior oil market analyst at DNB Bank ASA. “We still believe in softer prices toward year-end and early next year as curtailed production returns and OPEC+ continues to increase production.”
Strong prices for gas, liquefied natural gas and oil are expected to last “for a while” as producers resist the urge to drill again, Chevron’s Wirth told Bloomberg News. Norway’s Equinor ASA said Thursday it also expects European gas prices to remain high over winter.
Fuel Scarcity: Petrol Sells N220 Per Litre in Nsukka
Premium Motor Spirit, otherwise called petrol, now sells for between N200 and N220 per liter at the independent marketers’ service stations in Nsukka, Enugu State.
The News Agency of Nigeria is reporting the hike in the price against the official pump price of N162 per liter.
It said it started about a fortnight ago due to the scarcity of the commodity in the town and its environs.
Some residents of the town expressed deep worry over the development in separate interviews with NAN on Wednesday.
A civil servant, Stephen Ozioko, said the situation had further compounded the economic difficulties in the area.
Ozioko said many private car owners had been compelled to park their vehicles at home and move around in public transport.
He said: “Since the scarcity started, I decided to park my car and take public transport to the office and back home. N220 per liter is exorbitant and I cannot afford it considering my salary as a civil servant. I shall continue to use public transport until the situation returns to normal.”
A building material dealer, Timothy Ngwu, said the development had also led to an increase in transport fare in the area.
Ngwu said: “Some people now trek from Nsukka Old Park to Odenigbo Roundabout because of the 100 percent hike in fares from N50 to N100 by tricycle.
“Before now, transport fare from Nsukka to Enugu was N500, but transporters now charge between N800 and N1000.”
Also, a commuter bus driver, Victor Ogbonna, described the scarcity and hike in the price of petrol as “unfortunate and an ugly development”.
Ogbonna added: “Today, only a few filling stations are selling the commodity in Nsukka town, while others are shut.”
He alleged that some filling stations, which claimed to be out-of-stock, were selling to black marketers at night.
He said: “This is why black marketers have sprung up everywhere in the town, selling the commodity for about N300 per liter.”
NAN reports that virtually all the major marketers in the area have stopped the sale of petrol, claiming to be out-of-stock.
The people called on the government to urgently intervene in order to bring the situation under control and also put an end to its harsh economic effects on the messes.
DPR Targets N3.2T Revenue by Year-End
Nigeria’s Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) will hit the N3.2 trillion revenue target by December 2021, according to its Director/ Chief Executive Officer, Mr Sarki Auwalu.
Auwalu made the disclosure when he led a delegation of the DPR management team to the Executive Secretary of Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Mr Bello Gusau, in Abuja on Wednesday.
He said that 70 percent of the revenue projection had already been met. “Last year, we exceed our revenue budget. We were given N1.5 trillion but we were able to generate N2.7trillion.
“This year, our revenue budget was N3.2 trillion. By the end of August 2021, we have generated up to 70 per cent.
“So, we with September, October, November and December, it is only the 30 per cent that we will work over,’’ he said
He noted that the government took advantage of fiscal terms within the old and new legislation, thereby creating a level of increased signature bonuses.
“We reorganise the work programme that is normally being done in the DPR to key into the new operational structure as we see it in the bill, now an act.
“That programme is being handled by the planning and strategic business unit as against what we use to have because the entire work programme is supposed to show not only technical but also commercial and viability of oil fields and to guarantee the return on investment for investors.
“We have also created an economic value and benchmarking unit to key into the new fiscal provisions of the PIA,’’ he said.
Commenting on capacity, Auwalu said the country stands at the advantage of exporting skills to emerging oil and gas countries across Africa with proper implementation of the newly passed Petroleum Industry Act.
This, he said, the DPR was ready to partner with the Fund to continue to build capacity in the oil and gas sector
He noted that the Federal Government was determined to create leeway that would encourage investors and drastically improve the nation’s petroleum industry.
He further noted that no fewer than 300 legal battles in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria, which had been stalled for the past 20 years in courts, had been resolved through alternative dispute resolution.
According to Auwalu, the DPR is strategising well to ensure effective implementation of the PIA.
Responding, Gusau commended the DPR for enabling the industry and enhancing business activities in the oil and gas sector.
He said that DPR remained the head of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria adding that the Fund was grateful to benefit from the wealth of ideas from DPR.
“The last time we visited, we had a good discussion and issues raised are being implemented like tracking the inflow of funds in signature bonus accounts.
“We extended the meeting and involved ministry of Finance, Accountant General office and even the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“Sitting at field development plans and attending significant meetings, helped us to know where and what the industry is trying to do and it also helps to inform our decisions in training and capacity plans,’’ he said
He urged the DPR to continue on its effort to ensure an efficient and productive petroleum industry in Nigeria
He assured collaboration with all as the head of the implementation committee of the Petroleum Industry Act. (NAN)
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