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‘Nigeria’s Broadband Penetration Hinged on Mobile Broadband’

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  • ‘Nigeria’s Broadband Penetration Hinged on Mobile Broadband’

Paradigm Initiative, a leading outfit on digital rights and inclusion, has said that the widely publicised growth of broadband penetration is not a true reflection of the actual broadband penetration in the country, since the growth is mainly driven by mobile broadband, occasioned by the rising demand for smartphones across the country.

The Chief Executive of Paradigm Initiative, Mr. Gbenga Sesan, who made the remark in Lagos recently, stated that the federal government would need to step up efforts in making broadband access a priority among Nigerians. This he said could be achieved by making broadband available at reduced cost for all Nigerians.

According to Sesan, “With a reported broadband penetration of approximately 21 per cent, Nigeria seems to have met her National Broadband Plan target of reaching a fivefold increase in broadband penetration by the end of 2017, over the 2012 penetration rate of between 4-6 per cent.

“However, with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) putting fixed broadband penetration in Nigeria at 0.01 per cent, admittedly showed that the bulk of this broadband access has been through mobile broadband, which does not reflect the true broadband penetration level of a country.”

He noted that internet penetration in Nigeria is put at 47 per cent, according to the ITU, but according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), there were just over 90 million active mobile internet subscriptions on GSM and CDMA networks as of April 2017.

Sesan explained that although Nigeria’s broadband plan envisaged that mobile broadband would be the most popular medium for the actualisation of the plan, perhaps it was overly optimistic in its plans for the rollout of Terrestrial wireless networks, Fibre, Cable, Digital Subscriber Lines and Satellite Networks, given Nigeria’s historic challenges with infrastructure development.

He argued: “So the fixed broadband penetration is 0.01 per cent and infrastructural and policy challenges has limited the effectiveness of Nigeria’s only real claim to a national broadband network – mainly 3G and lately 4G mobile broadband, resulting in service quality issues.”

Insisting that broadband access in Nigeria is not broad enough, and not qualitative enough, compared to what is obtainable in other countries, Sesan said government must put the necessary infrastructure in place and ensure adequate implementation of the country’s broadband policy in order to boost actual fixed and mobile broadband penetration in the country.

He described broadband as internet experience at speeds higher than obtainable in dial-up services.

According to him, all over the world, broadband internet delivers the high-speed communications, which drive the rapid transfer of data for applications in media, healthcare, government services, education, among others. Broadband is now widely accepted to be an enabler of economic growth and development, according to a World Bank report finding that a that a 10 per cent increase in broadband penetration yields an additional 1.38 per cent increase in GDP growth for low to middle-income countries.

Sesan opined that Nigeria’s broadband plan, coming shortly after a decade of the deployment of mobile telephony in Nigeria, was a strategic document designed to accelerate development in the telecommunications sector and bring the developmental impact of broadband internet access to all Nigerians. He said such document must be well implemented to achieve rapid broadband penetration across the country.

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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Energy

Egypt Increases Fuel Prices by 15% Amid IMF Deal

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Egypt has raised fuel prices by up to 15% as the country looks to cut state subsidies as part of a new agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The oil ministry announced increases across a variety of fuel products, including gasoline, diesel, and kerosene.

However, fuel oil used for electricity and food-related industries will remain unaffected to protect essential services.

This decision comes after a pricing committee’s quarterly review, reflecting Egypt’s commitment to align with its financial obligations under the IMF pact.

Egypt is in the midst of recalibrating its economy following a massive $57 billion bailout, orchestrated with the IMF and the United Arab Emirates.

The IMF, which has expanded its support to $8 billion, emphasizes the need for Egypt to replace untargeted fuel subsidies with more focused social spending.

This is seen as a crucial component of a sustainable fiscal strategy aimed at stabilizing the nation’s finances.

Effective immediately, the cost of diesel will increase to 11.5 Egyptian pounds per liter from 10.

Gasoline prices have also risen, with 95, 92, and 80-octane types now costing 15, 13.75, and 12.25 pounds per liter, respectively.

Despite the hikes, Egypt’s fuel prices remain among the lowest globally, trailing only behind nations like Iran and Libya.

The latest increase follows recent adjustments to the price of subsidized bread, another key staple for Egyptians, underscoring the government’s resolve to navigate its economic crisis through tough reforms.

While the rise in fuel costs is expected to impact millions, analysts suggest the inflationary effects might be moderate.

EFG Hermes noted that the gradual removal of subsidies and a potential hike in power tariffs could have a relatively limited impact on overall consumer prices.

They predict that the deceleration in inflation will persist throughout the year.

Egypt’s efforts to manage inflation have shown progress, with headline inflation slowing for the fourth consecutive month in June.

This trend offers a glimmer of hope for the government as it strives to balance economic stability with social welfare.

The IMF and Egyptian officials are scheduled to meet on July 29 for a third review of the loan program. Approval from the IMF board could unlock an additional $820 million tranche, further supporting Egypt’s economic restructuring.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Rise on U.S. Inventory Draws Despite Global Demand Worries

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Oil prices gained on Wednesday following the reduction in U.S. crude and fuel inventories.

However, the market remains cautious due to ongoing concerns about weak global demand.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian crude oil is priced, increased by 66 cents, or 0.81% to $81.67 a barrel. Similarly, U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude climbed 78 cents, or 1.01%, to $77.74 per barrel.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported a substantial decline in crude inventories by 3.7 million barrels last week, surpassing analysts’ expectations of a 1.6-million-barrel draw.

Gasoline stocks also fell by 5.6 million barrels, while distillate stockpiles decreased by 2.8 million barrels, contradicting predictions of a 250,000-barrel increase.

Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group, described the EIA report as “very bullish,” indicating a potential for future crude draws as demand appears to outpace supply.

Despite these positive inventory trends, the market is still wary of global demand weaknesses. Concerns stem from a lackluster summer driving season in the U.S., which is expected to result in lower second-quarter earnings for refiners.

Also, economic challenges in China, the world’s largest crude importer, and declining oil deliveries to India, the third-largest importer, contribute to the apprehension about global demand.

Wildfires in Canada have further complicated the supply landscape, forcing some producers to cut back on production.

Imperial Oil, for instance, has reduced non-essential staff at its Kearl oil sands site as a precautionary measure.

While prices snapped a three-session losing streak due to the inventory draws and supply risks, the market remains under pressure.

Factors such as ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas, and China’s economic slowdown, continue to weigh heavily on traders’ minds.

In recent sessions, WTI had fallen 7%, with Brent down nearly 5%, reflecting the volatility and uncertainty gripping the market.

As the industry navigates these complex dynamics, analysts and investors alike are closely monitoring developments that could further impact oil prices.

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Commodities

Economic Strain Halts Nigeria’s Cocoa Industry: From 15 Factories to 5

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Once a bustling sector, Nigeria’s cocoa processing industry has hit a distressing low with operational factories dwindling from 15 to just five.

The cocoa industry, once a vibrant part of Nigeria’s economy, is now struggling to maintain even a fraction of its previous capacity.

The five remaining factories, operating at a combined utilization of merely 20,000 metric tons annually, now run at only 8% of their installed capacity.

This stark reduction from a robust 250,000 metric tons reflects the sector’s profound troubles.

Felix Oladunjoye, chairman of the Cocoa Processors Association of Nigeria (COPAN), voiced his concerns in a recent briefing, calling for an emergency declaration in the sector.

“The challenges are monumental. We need at least five times the working capital we had last year just to secure essential inputs,” Oladunjoye said.

Rising costs, especially in energy, alongside a cumbersome regulatory environment, have compounded the sector’s woes.

Farmers, who previously sold their cocoa beans to processors, now prefer to sell to merchants who offer higher prices.

This shift has further strained the remaining processors, who struggle to compete and maintain operations under the harsh economic conditions.

Also, multiple layers of taxation and high energy costs have rendered processing increasingly unviable.

Adding to the industry’s plight are new export regulations proposed by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

Oladunjoye criticized these regulations as duplicative and detrimental, predicting they would lead to higher costs and penalties for exporters.

“These regulations will only worsen our situation, leading to more shutdowns and job losses,” he warned.

The cocoa processing sector is not only suffering from internal economic challenges but also from a tough external environment.

Nigerian processors are finding it difficult to compete with their counterparts in Ghana and Ivory Coast, who benefit from lower production costs and more favorable export conditions.

Despite Nigeria’s potential as a top cocoa producer, with a global ranking of the fourth-largest supplier in the 2021/2022 season, the industry is struggling to capitalize on its opportunities.

The decline in processing capacity and the industry’s current state of distress highlight the urgent need for policy interventions and financial support.

The government’s export drive initiatives, aimed at boosting the sector, seem to be falling short. With the industry facing over N500 billion in tied-up investments and debts, the call for a focused rescue plan has never been more urgent.

The cocoa sector remains a significant part of Nigeria’s economy, but without substantial support and reforms, it risks falling further into disrepair.

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