- Zenith Bank Makes 30% Provision on 9Mobile Loan
The Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Peter Amangbo, has revealed that his bank, one of the 13 Nigeria lenders that loaned 9Mobile (formerly Etisalat Nigeria) $1.2 billion for its network expansion and upgrade, has made a provision on 30 per cent on its loan to the network operator.
Amangbo told Reuters Monday of the latest development.
“We have taken about 30 per cent as a provision which we believe is very prudent as the company (9Mobile) is undergoing restructuring to prepare for a new investor,” Amangbo said in a conference call.
Providing further clarification, a senior official of the bank said that though Zenith Bank had made provisions for a collective impairment charge, it was not specific to any customer since the 9Mobile loan had not gone bad.
“We had a conference call with investors yesterday and explained that a collective impairment charge was made by our bank, which was not specific to any customer.
“Also, this was not done because the 9Mobile loan is a non-performing loan since the company is being restructured, but the general provisioning was done because we were being prudent and in order to recognise the deterioration of the macroeconomic environment brought on by the recession,” he said.
Banks involved in the loan deal to 9Mobile included Zenith Bank, GTBank, FirstBank, UBA, Fidelity Bank, Access Bank, Ecobank, FCMB, Stanbic IBTC Bank and Union Bank, among others.
A breakdown of the amounts owed the banks showed that Zenith Bank has the highest exposure to 9Mobile amounting to $262 million and N80 billion, GTBank has the second highest exposure of $138 million and N42 billion, Access Bank follows with $131 million and N40 billion.
The telecoms firm also owes UBA $125 million and N38 billion; FirstBank – $79 million and N24 billion; Fidelity Bank – $56 million and N17 billion; Stanbic IBTC – $25 million and N7.5 billion; FCMB – $15 million and N4.5 billion; and Ecobank – $10 million and N3.1 billion.
Nigerian regulators had stepped into the debt crisis to save the teleco, which has since changed its brand name to 9Mobile, from collapse and prevent lenders from placing the country’s fourth biggest network operator into receivership, prompting a board, management and name change.
9Mobile had taken a $1.2 billion loan from a consortium of 13 banks in 2013, but struggled to repay the loan, citing the economic downturn of 2015-2016 and naira devaluation, which negatively impacted on the dollar-denominated component of the loan.
Last week, Zenith Bank reported a pre-tax profit of N92.18 billion for its half year against N53.91 billion a year ago.
US, Japan National Debt Surges by $8 Trillion in the Last 12 Months, China Recovers
The coronavirus-induced recession has seen countries that were already battling a skyrocketing national debt plunge into more crisis.
Data analyzed by Finbold indicates that the top five countries globally with the highest public debt added $9.17 trillion between March 2020 and March 2021. The United States tops with the debt growing by $4.57 trillion from $23.45 trillion to $28.0.2 trillion.
Elsewhere, Japan’s public debt has grown from $11.42 trillion to $14.64 trillion. Cumulatively, the two countries have added $7.79 trillion in debt. Interestingly, the analysis shows that China’s national debt dropped by $0.57 trillion from $8.56 trillion to $7.99 trillion among the selected leading economies.
In terms of the country’s national debt percentage growth, Germany tops with 35.02%, followed by Japan at 28.2%, and the U.S. ranks third at 19.29%. Italy’s debt grew by 10.8%, with the UK standing at 7.19%.
US debt crisis complicated by Covid-19 response
The record surge in national debt for the covered countries is mainly due to the coronavirus pandemic. The health crisis triggered the most profound economic downturn, with millions of people losing jobs and businesses temporarily or permanently closed; hence, revenues shrunk while spending soared.
Even before the pandemic, the United States was already battling a huge national debt crisis. The situation was further complicated after Congress approved several stimulus packages for relief, widening the debt. Furthermore, the low-interest rates meant that the US had to shoulder a heavier debt burden.
Similarly, Japan’s high national debt stems from the country’s response to the health crisis. The stimulus spending also put more pressure on the already dire public debt.
China’s pandemic response helps lower public debt
Despite being the virus epicenter, it was controlled swiftly, with economic activities resuming normally. There was balance between spending and revenue generation, meaning the deficit amount was low over the last 12 months.
China was also able to inject more money into the economy after becoming a key exporter of products needed to fight and curb the coronavirus pandemic. For instance, Asian nations exported a significant amount of face masks and ventilators to countries that lacked the capacity to produce their own.
Away from the pandemic response, China’s declining public debt ties down the policy. In recent years the country has become less reliant on using credit to handle economic slowdowns. Amid the pandemic, policymakers were even reluctant to over-use debt to hit growth targets.
Overall, most countries globally have enacted a massive amount of monetary and fiscal stimulus to prevent a deep and prolonged recession, in return increasing the public debt burden. However, it appears there has been little effort to balance the coronavirus response with solving the national debt crisis.
The surging national debt for countries like the US is worrying since it has since surpassed its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $21.59 trillion, according to the U.S. National Debt Clock. It is an indicator the country might have problems repaying the loans.
With the debt in the unstainable territory for some countries, it might generally impact the government’s ability to tackle future economic downturns.
The Africa Digital Inclusion Facility Approves $1.3m Grants for Two Research to Enhance Women’s Digital Access to Loans and Micro-insurance
The Africa Digital Inclusion Facility approves grants worth $1.3 million for two research efforts to enhance women’s digital access to loans and micro-insurance.
The African Development Bank has approved two grants for research that will increase African women’s access to a range of digital financial services including loans and micro-insurance.
The grants, for $1 million and $300,000 respectively, will be disbursed through the Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility, a blended finance vehicle supported by the Bank, to two financial technology firms, Pula Advisors Kenya Ltd., and M-KOPA Kenya Ltd.
Pula Advisors will use the $1 million for research of social, cultural and economic factors that impact women farmers’ access to micro-insurance in Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia. Research findings will inform the design and implementation of gender-centric insurance products. The project will be undertaken over a 3-year time frame.
“This grant funding will be used to leverage technology to develop innovative and responsive loan and insurance products that can spur productivity and inclusion, especially for our women smallholder farmers and traders.” said Sheila Okiro, the Bank’s Coordinator for ADFI.
The three-year project will have three phases: product development; piloting; and scaling; the outcomes are expected to benefit 360,000 farmers, 50% of them women, as well as boost farm yields by up to 30%. This will also raise incomes and enhance household and national food security.
M-KOPA will use the $300,000 grant funding for research involving 250 women and 250 men in Kenya’s Kisumu, Eldoret and Machakos counties. The company will assess the barriers to and opportunities for women’s access to digital financial services and financial literacy programmes via smartphone, and use the research insights to design a financial services app that is relevant to small-scale women traders.
The project, approved by the Bank on 9 February, 2021, will benefit women with no or limited access to financial services that run small informal businesses. Once developed, the mobile app will be used to pilot small loans to the women traders.
Both projects align with ADFI’s digital products and innovation and capacity building intervention pillars as well as its cross-cutting focus on gender inclusion, a thematic running across all its interventions.
The PULA grant approval meets African Development Bank strategic goals, including the Ten-Year Strategy, two High-5 priority areas—feed Africa and improve the quality of life for Africans— and the financial inclusion strategies of Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia.
The M-KOPA project is aligned with the Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) program that seeks to increase access to finance for women.
ADFI is a pan-African initiative designed to accelerate digital financial inclusion throughout Africa, with the goal of ensuring that 332 million more Africans, 60% of them women, gain access to the formal economy. The Facility was formally launched in June 2019 at the Bank’s Annual Meetings in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. Current ADFI partners are the French Development Agency (AFD); the French Treasury’s Ministry of Economy and Finance; The Government of Luxembourg’s Ministry of Finance; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and the African Development Bank, which also hosts the fund.
FirstBank Boosts Cross Border Payment With FirstGlobal Transfer
FirstBank Boosts Cross Border Payment With FirstGlobal Transfer
First Bank of Nigeria Limited has announced the launch of First Global Transfer (FGT) to promote the international transfer of funds across its subsidiaries in sub-Saharan Africa.
The bank, in a statement, said: “First Global Transfer (FGT) initiative is specifically designed to ensure safe, timely and improved efficiency in the transfer of funds across the network of FirstBank subsidiaries in Africa.
“The FGT is not restricted to FirstBank and FBNBank customers alone but it is also open to every individual resident in the country the funds’ transfer is originating from.
“Intending users of the initiative are to visit any of the bank’s branches in Nigeria or subsidiaries in Africa, which are: FBNBank DRC, FBNBank Ghana, FBNBank Gambia, FBNBank Guinea, FBNBank Sierra-Leone, or FBNBank Senegal to enjoy the service.
“For example, with First Global Transfer, individuals and customers in Sierra-Leone can walk into any FBNBank branch to send money to FirstBank customers in Nigeria as well as FBNBank customers in Gambia, Ghana, DR Congo, Senegal or Guinea.”
Speaking on the initiative, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, Chief Executive Officer, FirstBank said, “today’s customer is influenced by the technological advancement shaping businesses across various industries and our First Global Transfer (FGT) initiative is one of those advancement created to impact every individual in our host community in Africa, whilst promoting the ease and swift transfer of money from one country to another for business or personal activities.”
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