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Moulders Increase Block Prices, End Strike Today

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Block Moulders

Block moulders in the country have concluded plans to raise the prices of blocks by between 11 per cent and over 30 per cent, following the recent increase in the prices of cement.

The new price regime for blocks is expected to come into effect immediately after the moulders call off their five-day strike on Friday (today).

The announcement came on Thursday just as the Chairman, Cement Company of Northern Nigeria Plc, Mr. Abdulsamad Rabiu, said the high cost of doing business in Nigeria was a major reason for the hike in the prices of cement.

The price of cement had last week risen from N1,500 per 50kg bag to between N2,400 and N2,500.

On Tuesday that the moulders suspended operation the previous day to protest the latest increase in the prices of cement, granite and other construction materials, with a hint of their plan to raise the prices of blocks unless the prices of cement and other moulding materials were reversed.

The President, National Association of Block Moulders of Nigeria, Alhaji Rasco Adebowale, said on Thursday that with the new price regime, the 6x9x18 load-bearing blocks would sell for N220 per unit, accounting for a 37.5 per cent increase over the previous price of N160.

The 9x9x18 load-bearing blocks will sell for N250 per unit, up from N220, while the 6x9x18 and 9x9x18 non-load bearing blocks will sell for N200 and N180, up from N180 and N160 per unit, respectively, according to him.

He said, “NABMON, rising from its one-week break in production and sales, has made recommendations on quality control and new prices for our products.

“In view of the incessant building collapse nationwide, private block moulding activities without the knowledge, supervision and control of the association are hereby prohibited. All members of the association have also been enjoined to comply with standards and quality to justify the new prices.”

A professor of Building at the University of Lagos and the Vice-Chairman, Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria, Martin Dada, said the new price regime was a reaction to market forces but added that it would pose a challenge to the building industry and the economy in the long run, if it was not reversed.“We know that this is not a good omen for the economy. The challenge is that there is no assurance that the blocks will retain quality. So, we are already courting danger for the future,” he said.

He said the rise in the prices of cement and its ripple effects on the housing sector in particular, and the economy in general, would increase cases of building collapse in the country.

Dada said, “We should now be thinking not just of buildings collapsing and killing people during construction but also the lifespan of our buildings. Will they last beyond 10 years with these developments?”

The immediate past President of the Nigerian Institute of Building, Mr. Tunde Lasabi, said the affordability aspect of housing in the country might no longer be possible with current developments.

“Cement and blocks are basics in construction, so when their prices rise, definitely the prices of houses will increase. So, the affordability aspect of housing now has a question mark attached to it,” he said.

Lasabi said the government needed to consider the reality of affordable housing by subsidising the price of cement.

“With our 17 million housing deficit, the government should begin to think of subsidising cement and cement manufacturers should also reconsider their stance on pricing,” he said.

The Chairman, Cement Company of Northern Nigeria Plc, Rabiu, while speaking at the company’s 37th Annual General Meeting in Abuja, said that the operating environment had become harsh on businesses with a lot of challenges on the real sector.

Specifically, he listed some of the challenges as shortage of energy, limited foreign exchange for spare parts and low demand for cement.

He said while the government was mindful of the challenges facing the sector, the drop in oil prices, which had resulted in a decline in revenue accretion to the federation account, had limited the government’s capacity to address the problems.

He said,”The situation is tough; the price of energy, which accounts for a huge part of our operating costs, has doubled.

“The foreign exchange rate has also increased compared to what it was a few months back and all these are impacting negatively on our operations.”

He, however, said despite the harsh operating environment, the management of the company would continue to strive for better shareholders’ value.

Speaking on the company’s financial performance, he said the CCCN recorded a turnover of N13.03bn for 2015 as against N15.1bn recorded in 2014.

The profit after tax, according to him, was N1.2bn in 2015 as against N1.9bn in 2014.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Business

COVID-19: Demand for Second Passport by High Net Worth Individuals Surges 50 Percent

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african union passport

The number of high net worth individuals looking for a second international passport in order to improve their global access rose by 50 percent year-on-year, according to the latest statement from the deVere Group.

The group said national lockdowns, borders and travel restrictions have helped boost enquiries for second passports, citizenships and overseas residencies this year.

deVere Group, an independent financial advisory firm, that manages over 100,000 clients globally said demand for its residency and citizen service skyrocketed in this highly unusual year.

Most of the enquiries were from high net worth individuals from the U.S., India, South Africa, Russia, the Middle East and East Asia “who are seeking alternative options in Europe and the Commonwealth.”

According to Nigel Green, the Founder and CEO of deVere Group, “Previously, a second passport, citizenship or residency were regarded by many as the ultimate luxury item; a status symbol like yachts, supercars and original artwork.

“While this still remains the case, there’s also been a shift due to the pandemic.

“Now, second citizenship or overseas residency are increasingly becoming not just a ‘nice to have accessory’ but a ‘must have.’

“Whether it be for personal reasons, such as to remain with loved ones overseas or be able to visit them, or for business reasons, a growing number of people are seeking ways to secure their freedom of movement as they have faced travel restrictions which are, typically, based on citizenship.”

He continues: “The pandemic has served as a major catalyst for demand which skyrocketed this year. It has focused minds to secure that second passport or elite residency.

“However, the appeal for is broader than just the global Covid-19 crisis.

“Increasingly people prefer the concept of being a global citizen, rather than being solely tied to the country of their birth.

“They too value the many associated benefits including visa-free travel, world-class education, optimal healthcare, political and economic stability, reduced tax liabilities and wider business and career opportunities.”

However, nations have different criteria for granting citizenship, including time spent in the country, the ability to prove the legal source of funds and zero criminal records.

For instance, Portugal’s residency program requires just two weeks every two years of residency to gain the benefits, including the right to live, work, study and open a business there, as well as travel across the 26 countries of Europe’s Schengen area.

“More and more nations are running citizenship-by-investment programs, in which applicants invest an amount of money in a sponsoring country typically in high-end, new-build real estate developments in exchange for permanent residency, citizenship, or both,” affirms James Minns, deVere’s Head of Residency & Citizenship.

“These programmes, which high-net-worth individuals regard as invaluable insurance, are typically based on property investments that start from 250,000 EUR.”

Nigel Green concludes: “These highly unusual times have fuelled the surge in demand for second passports.

“The pandemic has brought into sharp focus what really matters to people: family, freedom and security.”

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Online Shopping Skyrockets Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

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NIBSS

Lagos, Tuesday 30 November 2020 – As we experience the first-ever Black Friday promotional phenomenon under lockdown, the dominance of online shopping platforms has become crystal clear.

To keep track of this development Nielsen Global Connect has conducted extensive research that includes an overarching view of the massive increase in online FMCG  shopping and just how rapidly it evolved over the first six months of lockdown.

Nielsen Connect, Global Intelligence Unit, Executive Director Ailsa Wingfield comments; “Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, online FMCG shopping usage has advanced by up to five years in just six short months. As a result, there has been a rapid increase in online shopping and usage with new users, frequency and preference having skyrocketed.

Preference of online as the most-used channel has also more than doubled.

Evidence of this results from the Nielsen New Shopper Normal Study which was conducted in May 2020 allowing for powerful insight into the effect of the COVID-19 lockdown on consumers, during an unprecedented time in our history.

The Nielsen study found that in terms of new Nigerian FMCG online shoppers, 29% had never shopped online. Sixty-seven per cent recently shopped online during the past week and 12% shopped most often online during the past week versus only 7% pre COVID-19. In terms of Frequency, 23% said they shopped online multiple times a week and 44% shopped once a week.

The best of both worlds

 Nielsen’s consumer and retail measurement evidence therefore clearly shows a massive and ongoing move to online, but it must be pointed out that this is not in isolation when considering the overall shopping journey. In Nigeria, two-thirds of consumers (67%) say they are now using both online and offline channels with fewer exclusive brick & mortar shoppers at 33%.

Wingfield elaborates; “Overall, consumers are shopping and buying in a mixed reality. In many instances, online shopping options are a new addition to their existing store repertoire but most consumers indicate that they will maintain a combination of online and offline – which will lead to the rise of more omnichannel shopping journeys and experiences.”

Interestingly, this adoption is even more pronounced for ‘Constrained Consumers’ – those who have been impacted by job/income loss. These consumers are less likely to be exclusive Brick & Mortar shoppers as Omni shopping is even more important to help them make better and more frugal choices.

Wingfield adds; “The challenge for retailers is that consumers want equivalent experiences regardless of the environment in which they shop. These are categorised by a seamless experience where the retailer’s online, and bricks and mortar offerings, are connected and offer a similar and familiar shopping experience.”

 Still more work to be done

In terms of the remaining obstacles for retailers to overcome and where online needs to work harder, the biggest concern for Nigerian shoppers is delivery which has emerged as the most important factor to get right. 42% of Nigerian consumers stated they wanted same/next-day delivery while 21% said they don’t want to wait when there are no slots available.

When it comes to Price & Promo perceptions, 57% of respondents said online prices had increased, while 22% perceived less online promotion and 17% said online was more expensive. That said, online price perceptions are currently more favourable than offline (brick and mortar) perceptions. They may also improve even further, following the heavy push by retailers of online-only Black Friday and year end seasonal promotions.

 Looking to the future

 Looking at how consumers’ newfound relationship with online shopping will evolve, Wingfield comments; “We saw that ‘necessity catalysts’ such as safety and precaution considerations and the availability of products initially drew consumers online, but there are still several obstacles to overcome. To sustain online FMCG traction, retailers and brands will need to focus on how they can solve consumers’ changing needs by differentiating their offerings in the Omni shopping journey.”

She goes on to suggest; “They will need to solve for overall satisfaction and experiences in the areas of time, convenience, availability and value based on consumers’ altered circumstances to truly differentiate themselves.”

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Rising Operating Costs, Exchange Rates, Service Charge Increased Airfares by 100%

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air peace

Price of air tickets rose by 100 percent across several routes as rising operating costs, high foreign exchange and surged in service charge forced airline operators to raise airfares.

Airlines attributed the increase to a series of price adjustments and the introduction of new fees by the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN). According to them, airline firms were given special concessions, which will continue to push price up and could hit an average of N100,000 for even the Lagos/Abuja route.

Speaking on the situation, Captain Ado Sanusi, the Managing Director of Aero Contractors, said airline companies could not access forex at the official rate while the FAAN had upped its fees.

He said “We were buying dollars at N360 and it went to N380 but you can’t get it for less than N480.

“We are paying VAT at 7.5 per cent. We are paying 15 per cent duty on our spare parts. The boarding passes, we pay 15 per cent duty on it.

“The passenger service charge has increased by FAAN. So, don’t look at one component but look at the total reason for the increase.

“Yes, there is an increase in demand but it is caused by the lack of aircraft and this lack of aircraft is caused by unavailability of spare parts which is also caused by dollar scarcity.”

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