Group Head of e-Buisness FirstBank Nigeria Limited, Mr. Chuma Ezirim provides highlights into trending issues in the electronic payment (e-payment) space as well as the bank’s efforts to encourage customers to embrace cashless transactions.
NIBSS reported that Nigerians withdrew N4.7 trillion through ATMs in 2016.
Why are we will still depending so much on cash despite cashless policy initiatives?
The cashless policy initiative is evolving and work in progress and as such yet to address all of the mass market needs in the market. Also, cash still remains the primary and preferred means of transacting in mass to lower affluent segments of the market.
ATM remains the most popular electronic channel. The structure of the POS Business in the country is still fluid, while the other non-cash payment options like USSD, QR Code, and Web are still emerging.
The dollar exchange rate against the Naira created a burden on the people and a hike in the prices of goods and services in the country (Inflation also increased from 10.4 percent in December 2015 to 18.5 in December 2016). Hence, people needed more cash to buy fewer goods as the value of naira became weak.
Despite increased roll-out of PoS and mobile app, lots of merchants (petrol stations, traders, etc) do not have or offer e-payment channels to customers. What is the challenge of banks in this regards and how is your bank responding to this challenge?
The reasons given above on the slow progress of the cashless initiative, also affect adoption rate by merchants. In the case of POS, the uptake is also hampered by the current POS operating model in the country which makes the business unprofitable to Banks/Acquirers and prevents sizable investment in the channel. In the case of Mobile Apps, the platform is currently not widely adapted to payments. Most of the solutions on typical mobile banking apps are not adapted to payments. However, industry-wide efforts are ongoing to introduce mobile payment solutions such as USSD and contactless payments (QR Codes, NFCs etc.)
Some banks, including FirstBank, in recent times have launched various mobile payment applications. What is the prospect that Nigerians will embrace the culture of using the phones for payment?
Transactions on non-cash payment channels have continued to witness impressive growth in recent past. In the last two years alone transactions on our mobile platforms grew by over 2,300 percent. Also, Nigeria leads other markets in Africa in terms of growth of Mobile penetration. At 40 per cent penetration, and 75 million unique mobile users, Nigeria has huge potentials in this area. It is noteworthy that in similar markets such as Brazil and Kenya, mobile payment is widely accepted and can be said to have been successful.
Besides the roll-out of epayment channels, how is FirstBank encouraging their customers to embrace cashless transactions?
FirstBank has a point- based Loyalty Scheme and Merchant Discount Incentive initiative that reward customers when they make use of non-cash channels for their transactions. We also employ a continuous customer education and campaigns on an ongoing basis.
The world has witnessed upsurge in the rise and use of virtual currencies like Bitcoin, in your view, what should be the appropriate response from the banking industry and the government?
The virtual currencies have a number of advantages such as cost savings and speed, which banks cannot afford to ignore. The profile of an average bank customer has changed over the years. Customers have higher expectations of service and are insisting on how they should be served by their banks. The growth of crypto-currencies over the years shows the level of interest by customers. Central Banks across the globe are actively reviewing the development and CBN has set up a team to review the developments in the Nigeria. Ultimately, banks would eventually play under a well regulated regime to explore opportunities in areas like payments, trade finance, treasury and security, reporting, etc.
Equatorial Guinea to Launch Vision on Post-COVID Energy Transition Plans with Report and Film
The Africa Energy Series (AES): Equatorial Guinea 2021 campaign – comprising a report and a documentary – will serve as a critical tool to navigate the energy investment landscape in one of Africa’s more mature petroleum producing markets; Equatorial Guinea has largely been able to sustain its pace of engagement with global investors in the face of COVID-19, forecasting $1.1 billion in FDI in oil and gas activities in 2021; The third edition of the AES: Equatorial Guinea 2021 report will be released at Africa Oil & Power’s U.S. Africa Energy Forum 2021 networking event in Washington, D.C. this July.
Africa Oil & Power is proud to announce the upcoming launch of its Africa Energy Series (AES): Equatorial Guinea 2021 investment report and documentary, as part of a multimedia campaign set to champion the domestic energy sector and shape the West and Central African energy narrative.
The dual-language publication will target key developments driving a post-COVID-19 recovery in Equatorial Guinea – namely, the growth of petroleum and power industries; regional gas monetization initiatives; a clean energy transition; the impact of environmental, social and governance criteria; and expansion of the national diversification agenda.
A 30-minute documentary will provide a visual complement to the publication, featuring first-hand interviews with government officials, private sector players, industry regulators and energy experts discussing Equatorial Guinea’s unparalleled ambition and future plans.
“From spearheading regional gas monetization initiatives to drilling new exploration wells as early as Q2 2021, Equatorial Guinea continues to cement its reputation as a progressive, dynamic force on the African energy stage,” said H.E. Gabriel Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons. “The Africa Energy Series publication in conjunction with a detailed documentary format, gives us the voice to showcase the depth of our full-stream investment opportunities to a global audience.”
Since the onset of COVID-19, Equatorial Guinea has been proactive in safeguarding opportunities for foreign investors and continuing to drive capital into its hydrocarbon resources. In February, Chevron achieved first gas flow from the successful execution of its Alen Gas Monetization project, a $475-million investment representing the first phase of Equatorial Guinea’s Gas Mega Hub masterplan.
The Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons is currently promoting several capital-intensive projects – including the construction of modular oil refineries, a gold refinery, liquefied petroleum gas strategic tanks, a urea plant and the expansion of a compressed natural gas project – which are open for investment. Last December, the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons announced a forecast of $1.1 billion in foreign direct investment in oil and gas activities in 2021.
Active in Equatorial Guinea since 2015, AOP released its first AES documentary on the country in 2016, followed by investment reports in 2018 and 2019.
The AES: Equatorial Guinea 2021 investment report will be launched at the U.S. Africa Energy Forum 2021 online seminar and in-person networking event in Washington, DC. (July 12). The documentary will be launched at the U.S. Africa Energy Forum conference in Houston (October 4-5) and broadcast globally on news networks.
U.S. Africa Energy Forum 2021 Launches: Promotes U.S. Role as Primary Investor in African Energy
The U.S. Africa Energy Forum 2021 – organized by Africa Oil & Power, in partnership with the African Energy Chamber’s U.S.-Africa Committee – will foster alignment between U.S. and African governments’ energy policies and highlight African oil, gas, power and renewable projects across the energy value chain for U.S. investors; the multi-day forum unites U.S. and African policymakers, energy executives and industry leaders to create new linkages and foster discussions that drive long-term policy formation and project execution; the in-person, two-day summit and gala dinner will be hosted in Houston, Texas (October 4-5, 2021) and an online seminar and in-person networking event will be held in Washington D.C. (July 12).
Africa Oil & Power (AOP) and the African Energy Chamber are excited to announce the launch of the first-ever U.S. Africa Energy Forum (USAEF). This event aims to create deeper cooperation between the U.S. and Africa on energy policy, to reach alignment on long term sustainability goals, to stimulate greater American investment in the African oil, gas and power sectors, and to engage and reposition the U.S. as the primary partner of choice for African energy developments.
Under the theme “New Horizons for U.S. Africa Energy Investment” the forum will explore diverse foreign investment and export opportunities across the continent, including natural gas as a vital fuel for the energy transition; energy storage and battery minerals; Africa’s place in global energy supply chains; the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area; evolving energy technologies and how they relate to the future role of petroleum resources; and on-and off-grid power developments.
An online seminar and in-person networking event will be held in Washington D.C. on July 12, 2021, building up to the in-person U.S. Africa Energy Forum summit and gala dinner, to be hosted in Houston, Texas, on October 4-5, 2021. Africa Oil & Power and the African Energy Chamber invite all U.S.-based companies with an interest in engaging with African industry leaders and project developers to participate in the USAEF Houston summit.
This initiative comes at an important juncture in U.S.-Africa relations. The Biden Administration’s announcements of its intentions to proactively build a stronger U.S.-Africa partnership coincides with the fact that African projects are seeing rising interest from U.S. companies and lending institutions alike. The USAEF event is thus dedicated to enabling dialogue between its participants that advances these developments.
“Our mission has always been to showcase the resource potential that Africa has to offer while at the same time showing its growing preference for sustainable energy policies and technologies. Toward that end, we hope it becomes evident that Africa does not just want investment capital: it wants smart capital and an accompanying partnership with the investors,” says James Chester, Senior Director of Africa Oil & Power. “The U.S. Africa Energy Forum represents the first-of-its-kind opportunity to catalyze U.S. participation in Africa’s energy transformation – via technology, policy support, capital injection and skills development – and turns a new page in the chapter on global energy investment.”
In partnership with the African Energy Chamber’s U.S.-Africa Committee, AOP will introduce American companies to African opportunities and advance an agenda of sustainable, long-term investment in African energy and other sectors by U.S. organizations.
“The rise in support from the U.S. to the continent is a credit to Africa itself, which is increasingly viewed as a favored destination for global investors, multilaterals and export credit agencies,” says Jude Kearney, President of Kearney Africa and former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Service Industries and Finance at the U.S. Department of Commerce during the Clinton Administration. “Africa continues to command a healthy share of global FDI in oil and gas industries. It has for decades shown that investment in those sectors is favorable compared to other jurisdictions and can be successful by many measures. Even as Africa and the rest of the world wrestles with a global pandemic, Africa’s energy sector shows vitality and resiliency – not only in hydrocarbons but in regard to new opportunities in mining, liquefied natural gas, and agriculture.”
Both African governments and private sector sponsors of African energy projects value highly the combination of investment and partnership that US investors famously convey. The USAEF seeks to enable successful partnerships between its participants such that the energy development goals of U.S. investors and strategic partners and their African counterparts can be achieved.
Angola’s Petroleum Agency Outlines Timeline for Ongoing Bid-round
Angola’s National Oil, Gas and Biofuel’s Agency (ANPG) has outlined its timetable for the evaluation of its ongoing 2020 bid round, as interest in the acreage on offer continues to grow.
In line with its statutory duties as national concessionaire in charge of the attribution of petroleum exploration blocks, the ANPG has sought to adjust its processes to remain competitive in the current market environment, which is dominated by concerns around COVID-19, long-term demand considerations and stiff competition from new and promising frontiers like Guyana and Suriname.
The ongoing bid-round is a manifestation of Angola’s strategy for the continuous attribution of petroleum concessions 2019-2025 which was approved and codified by Presidential Decree no. 52/19, of 18 February 2019. The aim of the strategy is to provide access to promising acreage to competent explorers in an effort to increase geological knowledge about Angola’s hydrocarbons potential and ultimately increase proven reserves.
A hybrid online and physical roadshow for the current bid-round is scheduled for April 6 in at the Talatona Convention Centre in Luanda. This event will provide the opportunity for investors to engage with the agency regarding the blocks on offer, the data packages and the accessibility studies, as well as touch upon environmental, logistical and local content issues.
This will kickstart a series of both digital and in-person roadshows and technical presentations to promote the blocks to be awarded in key international markets. The acreages on offer include:
- Three blocks of the lower Congo onshore Basin CON1, CON5 and CON6
- Six of the Kwanza onshore Basin (KON5, KON6, KON8, KON9, KON17 and KON20)
In line with the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 86/18, of 2 April 2019, which establishes the rules for the organization of bid rounds, the ongoing 2020 bid round will unfold as follows:
- Tender Launch
- Proposal submission
- The opening of offers from potential suitors in a public setting
- The evaluation and qualification of proposals
- The submission of the evaluation report to the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Petroleum and Gas
- Contract negotiation with the winners of the bid-round
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