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Zuckerberg Pledges Support for Nigerian Tech Startups, SMEs

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Mark Zuckerberg - Investors King

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.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Dip Amidst Middle East Tensions, Market Reaction Limited

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Oil

Oil prices fell on Monday as market participants reevaluated their risk premiums in the wake of Iran’s weekend attack on Israel, which the Israeli government said caused limited damage.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced,  dipped by 50 cents, or 0.5%, to $89.95 a barrel while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil fell by 52 cents, or 0.6%, to $85.14 a barrel.

The attack, involving over 300 missiles and drones, marked the first assault on Israel from another country in more than three decades. It heightened concerns over a potential broader regional conflict impacting oil traffic through the Middle East.

However, Israel’s Iron Dome defense system intercepted many of the missiles, and the attack resulted in only modest damage and no reported loss of life.

Warren Patterson, head of commodities strategy at ING, noted that the market had largely priced in the potential attack in the days leading up to it. The limited damage and the absence of casualties suggest that Israel’s response may be more measured, which could help stabilize the oil market.

Iran, a major oil producer within OPEC, currently produces over 3 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil. The potential risks include stricter enforcement of oil sanctions and the possibility of Israeli targeting of Iran’s energy infrastructure, according to ING.

Nevertheless, OPEC possesses over 5 million bpd of spare production capacity, which could help mitigate any supply disruptions.

Analysts from ANZ Research and Citi Research have suggested that further significant impact on oil prices would require a material disruption to supply, such as constraints on shipping in the Strait of Hormuz. So far, the Israel-Hamas conflict has not had a notable effect on oil supply.

The market remains watchful of Israel’s response to the attack, which could influence the future trajectory of oil prices and broader geopolitical tensions in the region.

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Nigeria’s Crude Oil Production Falls for Second Consecutive Month, OPEC Reports

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Crude Oil

Nigeria’s crude oil production declined for the second consecutive month in March, according to the latest report from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Data obtained from OPEC’s Monthly Oil Market Report for April 2024 reveals that Nigeria’s crude oil production depreciated from 1.322 million barrels per day (mbpd) in February to 1.231 mbpd in March.

This decline underscores the challenges faced by Africa’s largest oil-producing nation in maintaining consistent output levels.

Despite efforts to stabilize production, Nigeria has struggled to curb the impact of oil theft and pipeline vandalism, which continue to plague the industry.

The theft and sabotage of oil infrastructure have resulted in significant disruptions, contributing to the decline in crude oil production observed in recent months.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) recently disclosed alarming statistics regarding oil theft incidents in the country.

According to reports, the NNPCL recorded 155 oil theft incidents within a single week, these incidents included illegal pipeline connections, refinery operations, vessel infractions, and oil spills, among others.

The persistent menace of oil theft poses a considerable threat to Nigeria’s economy and its position as a key player in the global oil market.

The illicit activities not only lead to revenue losses for the government but also disrupt the operations of oil companies and undermine investor confidence in the sector.

In response to the escalating problem, the Nigerian government has intensified efforts to combat oil theft and vandalism.

However, addressing these challenges requires a multi-faceted approach, including enhanced security measures, regulatory reforms, and community engagement initiatives.

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Oil Prices Edge Higher Amidst Fear of Middle East Conflict

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Crude Oil

Amidst growing apprehensions of a potential conflict in the Middle East, oil prices have inched higher as investors anticipate a strike from Iran.

The specter of a showdown between Iran or its proxies and Israel has sent tremors across the oil market as traders brace for possible supply disruptions in the region.

Brent crude oil climbed above the $90 price level following a 1.1% gain on Wednesday while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) hovered near $86.

The anticipation of a strike, believed to be imminent by the United States and its allies, has cast a shadow over market sentiment. Such an escalation would follow Iran’s recent threat to retaliate against Israel for an attack on a diplomatic compound in Syria.

The trajectory of oil prices this year has been heavily influenced by geopolitical tensions and supply dynamics. Geopolitical unrest, coupled with ongoing OPEC+ supply cuts, has propelled oil prices nearly 18% higher since the beginning of the year.

However, this upward momentum is tempered by concerns such as swelling US crude stockpiles, now at their highest since July, and the impact of a hot US inflation print on Federal Reserve rate-cut expectations.

Despite the bullish sentiment prevailing among many of the world’s top traders and Wall Street banks, with some envisioning a return to $100 for the global benchmark, caution lingers.

Macquarie Group has cautioned that Brent could enter a bear market in the second half of the year if geopolitical events fail to materialize into actual supply disruptions.

“The current geopolitical environment continues to provide support to oil prices,” remarked Warren Patterson, head of commodities strategy for ING Groep NV in Singapore. However, he added, “further upside is limited without a fresh catalyst or further escalation in the Middle East.”

The rhetoric from Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reaffirming a vow to retaliate against Israel, has only heightened tensions in the region.

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