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Local Content Devt in ICT to Top Agenda in 2017

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ICT
  • Local Content Devt in ICT to Top Agenda in 2017

Although 2016 was perceived as a tough year for telecoms and information technology (IT) business, ICT stakeholders are of the view that 2017 could be a better year if certain critical measures are put in place by the government to drive development of the industry. Among all identified factors that will shape ICT activities in 2017, the Nigerian Local Content Development, topped the agenda.

From broadband development and penetration, to spectrum management as well as protecting ICT infrastructure and licensing of additional InfraCos, up to regulatory framework, quality of service and data floor price, stakeholders strongly believe that if the issue of local content development and patronage are full addressed, it would automatically take care of all other factors that needed to be addressed in the ICT sector in 2017.

The Nigerian local content law in ICT

The Chief Executive Officer of Teledom Group, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, is one stakeholder that is passionate about developing the Nigerian local content law in ICT, which he said, would spur development in the ICT sector.

According to Ekuwem, “the economy is down with recession and the best way to move Nigeria out of recession is for government to develop her local content law by encouraging locally developed products and their patronage. If this is achieved, it would not only create jobs, but also boost GDP growth as well as the Nigerian economy.”

He therefore insisted on patronage, protection, projection and promotion of the Nigerian local content development. To achieve this, Ekuwem said government must put the right policies in place and ensure full implementation of such policies across boards.

“What Nigeria needs at the moment is a general consumer content law that will drive local content development in the ICT sector,” Ekuwem said, while frowning on a situation where the telecoms operators depended largely on importation of telecoms infrastructure, to the detriment of local manufacturers.

He expressed his displeasure over importation of items like switches and routers by telecoms operators, insisting that such items could be manufactured in the country, if the right policies are put in place, and backed with proper implementation strategies. Ekuwem is of the view that if local content development is encouraged in the ICT sector, it will boost development and create additional jobs for the unemployed youths of the county.

President, Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), Mr. James Emadoye is another stakeholder who believes government must wake up to its responsibilities in 2017 in the area of policy implementation that will drive local content development in the ICT sector.

Emadoye, who blamed the federal government for policy inconsistencies and poor implementation, gave an instance where the federal government, through the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Ufot Ekaette, wrote a letter with Ref No SGF/OP/1/S.3/VII/795, to head of civil service commission, ministries department and agencies (MDAs) of government, on the need to patronise made in Nigeria products, including procurement of locally assembled computers and locally developed software. He said the letter directed all federal MDAs to comply with the directive, but expressed deep dissatisfaction that such directive was never implemented. The situation, he said, has grounded several local manufacturers of ICT products and equipment in the country, while importation of ICT equipment still thrives.

Emadoye therefore called on government to expedite action in putting in place policies and the right implementation that would support local content development in a sector where there are willing and talented people that could develop ICT equipment with global standard and best practice.

The President, Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr. Olusola Teniola, said local content must be a priority in 2017 for the ICT industry in general and that government should further collaborate with industry, civic society and academia to find the best fit for Nigeria in ensuring that capital flight is minimised in the areas of software, digital content and data hosting.

Spectrum licensing

In the area of spectrum allocation and sales, Teniola said the ICT industry needs further allocation and utilisation of spectra that would contribute to the growth of mobile broadband penetration in rural areas of the country and that the options presented at the Spectrum Trading Forum hosted by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in 2016, should be explored and implemented in 2017, specifically in consideration of the Nigerian terrain. He added that the migration of analogue TV to digital TV should be a major focus during 2017 and this should free up more broadband type spectra that will allow high speed or superfast broadband to be easily rolled out.

“Until these are achieved, 2017 may witness more ‘refarming’ of spectrum usage amongst the mobile network operators (MNOs) and a gradual push to 4G type speeds with NCC having to put in place more enforcement to ensure spectrum is effectively being used to meet service quality standards across the industry,” he said.

In the same vein, Ekuwem said the Digital Switch Over (DSO) plan by the federal government to migrate the country from analogue to digital broadcasting, should be given serious attention, since the successful migration will free up spectrums that would be used for broadband penetration.

Broadband penetration

In the area of broadband infrastructure and penetration, Teniola is of the view that 2017 is the year when we need to have implementable programmes in place to ensure we are on track to achieve the National Broadband Plan (NBP) of 30 per cent penetration by end of 2018. The ICT industry, he said, would need all the government agencies in charge of and responsible for infrastructure at state level to work with and support the roll-out of much needed fibre optic metro infrastructure that supports the whole eco-system to deliver on the promises made in the NBP.

“Furthermore, the industry needs government policies in place that will attract much needed investments to support the capital expenditure programmes that should be undertaken to realise the country’s vision of a digital transformation through smart cities, e-Government and Internet of Things (IoT). The infrastructure that is rolled out for support broadband services needs to be fully protected from vandalisation, theft and destruction and therefore the enforcement of the Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) under the Cybercrime bill needs to be enacted without any further delay,” Teniola said.

Ekuwem said the country’s broadband plan should be vigorously pursued and implemented further in 2017, since several factors in ICT development revolves around broadband.

The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, said NCC would intensify action to ensure deeper penetration of broadband infrastructure, using its 8-Point Agenda.

“Our decision to focus on facilitation of broadband penetration was guided by the empirically proven, and globally acknowledged potentials of this service to promote socio-economic transformation, citizen empowerment, and ease of governance. This is why we have taken very practical steps to actualise the Open Access Model of infrastructure required to drive broadband penetration. This is why we are currently inviting bids for broadband infrastructure deployments in five geopolitical zones of the country, having licensed two operators for Lagos and North Central Zone of the country for the same infrastructure.

We have also issued licenses in the 2.6GHz Spectrum Band and allocations of spectrum to service providers in the 5.4GHz Band began in the first week of December 2016.

Some service providers are already rolling out these services, including the Long Term Evolution, LTE-based services.

“We have been able to develop a broadband regulatory framework, with a monitoring committee set up to align our various efforts in this direction. So in 2017, we will work to meet the expectations of the approved National Broadband Implementation Plan, which has set a target of 30 per cent broadband penetration by 2018. The encouraging news is that Nigeria’s broadband penetration as empirically adjudged by the global telecom regulator, the International Telecommunications Union, ITU, is 21 per cent. This means that our efforts are yielding desired results,” Danbatta said.

Licensing of InfraCos

In the area of licensing of Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) that will drive deployment of broadband infrastructure across the country, Teniola said for Nigeria to realise the National Backbone Network (NBN) the Open Access Model needs to be fully implemented to the ‘letter’ and hence the remaining licences need to be given out within the first quarter of 2017.

“Also, issues surrounding the project execution in each geo-political region will need speedy intervention by federal and state government’s collaboration to avoid experiences observed in 2016 with the InfraCos that were awarded licences to cover Lagos and North Central regions. We must avoid the mistakes already made to ensure the success of the overall intent,” Teniola said.

ICT policies and regulations

In the area of ICT policies and telecoms regulation, Teniola insisted that telecoms regulation would need to balance Over the Top Technology (OTT) presence alongside the current industry setup of strong MNOs and a few Internet Service Providers (ISPs) against the uncertainty of the Nigerian economic situation vis-a-vis infrastructure investments and capital deployed to achieve it.

“In 2017 the telecoms industry needs to see an immediate clarity on data price floor and other intervention instruments that will need to be explored and maybe introduced into the industry to ensure competition doesn’t stifle innovation for the long term growth of industry as a whole. 2017 is the year where the NCC will be looked upon by all industry players for a level playing field to exist in the emerging broadband data era in Nigeria,” Teniola said.

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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Dangote Group Expands Refinery Storage Capacity to 5.3 Billion Litres

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Dangote Refinery

The Dangote Group has announced a significant expansion of its refinery storage capacity.

The expansion, disclosed by Alhaji Aliko Dangote, President of the Dangote Group, during his address at the Afreximbank Annual Meetings and AfriCaribbean Trade & Investment Forum in Nassau, The Bahamas.

Currently boasting a storage capacity of 4.78 billion litres, the Dangote Petrochemical Refinery is set to increase this figure by an additional 600 million litres, bringing the total capacity to an impressive 5.3 billion litres.

This expansion underscores Dangote’s commitment to transforming Nigeria into a hub for refined petroleum products and solidifies the refinery’s role as a strategic reserve for the nation.

Addressing stakeholders at the forum, Dangote highlighted the refinery’s pivotal role in addressing longstanding challenges in Nigeria’s energy sector, particularly the absence of strategic reserves for petrol.

“The country doesn’t have strategic reserves in terms of petrol, which is very dangerous. But in our plant now, when you came, we had only 4.78 billion litres of various tankage capacity. But right now, we’re adding another 600 million,” Dangote affirmed.

The expansion comes amidst various operational challenges faced by the refinery, including attempts by international oil companies to hinder its operations.

Dangote asserted that these challenges, aimed at impeding the success of the refinery, were indicative of broader resistance to change within the oil industry.

“We borrowed the money based on our balance sheet. I think we borrowed just over $5.5bn. But we paid also a lot of interest as we went along, because the project was delayed because of a lack of land, also the sand-filling took a long time,” Dangote revealed, emphasizing the resilience required to overcome these obstacles.

Moreover, Dangote expressed optimism regarding the refinery’s capacity to influence regional fuel prices, citing the success story of diesel price reduction following the refinery’s market entry.

He indicated that while petrol pricing remains a complex issue governed by governmental policies, the refinery’s operations would strive to offer competitive pricing and supply stability.

The expansion of the Dangote Petrochemical Refinery not only marks a significant milestone in Nigeria’s industrial landscape but also positions the conglomerate as a key player in reshaping Africa’s energy dynamics.

As construction progresses towards completion, the refinery aims to further consolidate its role in meeting regional energy demands and fostering economic growth across West Africa.

With plans to commence sales of refined products in the coming months, Dangote’s refinery is poised to play a transformative role in Nigeria’s quest for energy independence and regional economic integration.

As stakeholders await the refinery’s operational debut, expectations are high for its potential to drive down fuel prices and enhance energy security across the region.

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Musk Secures Shareholder Support for Compensation and Texas Relocation

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Elon Musk

Tesla Inc. shareholders have voted in favor of Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk’s compensation package and the company’s state of incorporation change to Texas.

The results, announced at Tesla’s annual meeting in Austin on Thursday, reflect shareholder approval despite challenges such as declining sales and a significant drop in stock price.

Musk had hinted at the likely outcome the night before the meeting in a post on X, stating that both resolutions were “passing by wide margins.”

The electric car manufacturer did not disclose the detailed breakdown of the votes.

The approval of Musk’s pay package, although advisory, demonstrates continued investor support for his leadership.

The package had previously been nullified by a Delaware judge in January, but Tesla plans to appeal. Should the appeal fail, relocating Tesla’s legal home to Texas may provide the board an opportunity to reintroduce the compensation plan under potentially more favorable legal conditions.

Originally approved in 2018 with 73% of the vote, Musk’s compensation plan makes him eligible for up to $55.8 billion in stock options if Tesla achieves specific milestones.

Currently, the value of these options is approximately $48.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Musk’s leadership has been a topic of significant debate, particularly in light of his oversight of six companies and his tendency toward abrupt strategic changes.

Earlier this year, Musk orchestrated Tesla’s largest layoffs to date, only to rehire some of the affected workers weeks later.

In addition to the compensation package, shareholders voted to reelect James Murdoch and Kimbal Musk to Tesla’s board.

Murdoch, son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, has served on the board since 2017, while Kimbal Musk, Elon’s younger brother, has been a member since 2004.

Tesla’s stock saw a modest increase of 0.3% in extended trading following the announcement, though the stock had fallen about 27% over the year compared to a 14% gain in the S&P 500 Index.

During the annual meeting, held at Tesla’s Austin headquarters, shareholders showed enthusiastic support as Musk took the stage in a black Cybertruck T-shirt.

He shared updates on the company’s progress, including the introduction of three new models, the expansion of the Supercharger network, and record production levels for Cybertrucks.

“A lot of people said Cybertruck was fake, never going to come out. Now we’re shipping a lot of Cybertrucks,” Musk stated.

In addressing his substantial pay package, Musk clarified that it is structured as options requiring him to hold Tesla stock for five years. “I can’t cut and run, nor would I want to,” he said.

The push for shareholder support involved a dedicated “Vote Tesla” website and advertising on X, with Tesla investors and executives vocalizing their backing for Musk.

Despite some opposition from significant investors like Norway’s sovereign wealth fund and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the measures passed.

The relocation to Texas has been formalized, with the certificate of conversion available on the Texas Secretary of State website.

However, any future compensation plan will need to be restructured to comply with Texas legal standards, should the Delaware appeal fail.

The recent shareholder vote may enhance Tesla’s position in the forthcoming appeal. Delaware Chancery Court Judge Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick’s January decision to void the compensation package cited conflicts of interest and inadequate disclosure.

The appeal’s outcome, expected later this year, will determine the next steps for Musk’s compensation plan.

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Merger and Acquisition

Exxon Mobil’s Sale to Seplat Progresses After NNPC Drops Legal Challenge

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exxonmobil

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has withdrawn its legal challenge against Exxon Mobil Corp.’s sale of its oil and gas assets to Seplat Energy Plc.

This decision eliminates a major obstacle that had stalled the completion of the $1.3 billion deal.

The NNPC submitted an application to the high court in Abuja to discontinue the case, as confirmed by its legal firm, Afe Babalola, in an email on Thursday.

This move follows an agreement reached last month between NNPC and Exxon Mobil to finalize the transaction under undisclosed terms.

However, court documents reviewed by Bloomberg reveal that NNPC retains the right to resume its legal challenge if the settlement terms are not honored.

The sale, initially signed in February 2022, still requires approvals from the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), which has set an August deadline, and from Nigerian President Bola Tinubu.

The NNPC’s withdrawal significantly advances the deal but does not mark its final hurdle.

The addition of Exxon Mobil’s blocks will significantly enhance Seplat’s portfolio, almost quadrupling its output to over 130,000 barrels per day.

This acquisition is set to bolster Seplat’s status as one of the leading suppliers of domestic gas to Nigerian power plants, fortifying its influence in the region.

In a parallel development, Shell Plc’s divestment of its Nigerian onshore oil business to a consortium of local firms, valued at over $1.3 billion, also awaits regulatory approval after being announced in January.

Both deals highlight the ongoing restructuring and consolidation within Nigeria’s oil and gas industry, aimed at increasing efficiency and local participation.

As Nigeria navigates these substantial industry shifts, the successful completion of the Exxon Mobil-Seplat deal will be a critical indicator of the nation’s ability to manage large-scale energy transactions.

It will also set a precedent for future agreements and regulatory processes in the country’s vital oil and gas sector.

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