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Lagos Disburses N4.5b to 5,527 SMEs

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  • Lagos Disburses N4.5b to 5,527 SMEs

Lagos State government has, through the State Employment Trust Fund, approved N4.5billion for 5,527 Medium Small Manufacturing Enterprises (MSMEs) in the last one year, the state Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, said yesterday.

The governor spoke at the opening ceremony of the second edition of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Exclusive fair, with: Unleashing the Potentials of MSMEs for Economic Diversification as theme.

Represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Tunji Bello, he said the Fund, in partnership with the UNDP and private sector employers, will also train 16,000 unemployed Lagosians in order to take up technical and vocational jobs.

“The state government would launch innovation driven enterprise framework to support business startups in the fourth quarter of this year,” he said.

He reiterated the commitment of the government to continually implement enterprise-friendly policies and develop the critical infrastructure that would enhance the productivity and competitiveness of all businesses in the State.

“We will continue to support the growth of MSMEs and make concerted efforts to develop enterprise cluster parks especially the Imota Light Industrial Park,” Ambode said.

He said the theme of this year throws a challenge to all players, both public and private which is that everyone must look inwards and develop the internal and external capacities of the local non-oil MSME for steady growth and global competitiveness.

According to him, the four-day fair would match-up the local small-scale industrial giants with business development support providers, investors from the private sector, public regulatory support agencies at the state, federal as well as the foreign economic development institutions.

He said despite the contributions of the MSME sector to the Lagos economy, the sector’s competitiveness is weakened by limited access to credible, customised-business support.

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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Experts Predict Nigeria’s Free Trade Zones Could Generate More Than N11.11tn

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Economic experts are optimistic about the potential of Nigeria’s Free Trade Zones (FTZs) to boost the nation’s economy significantly.

According to recent analysis, these zones could generate more than the N11.11 trillion they have already remitted to the Federation Account as of October 2023.

The Director of the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE), Muda Yusuf, said the FTZs will help facilitate forex.

“Nigeria’s urgent need for foreign exchange necessitates leveraging our free zones to enhance non-oil export revenue and reduce dependency on crude oil earnings,” Yusuf stated.

He pointed out the success stories of other countries, notably Dubai, which has effectively utilized its free zones to generate foreign exchange and attract significant investments.

“Our free zones must strive to do more, as we are still heavily reliant on oil and gas for our foreign exchange earnings. Increased investment in these areas is crucial,” he added.

Supporting this perspective, the Managing Director of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Olufemi Ogunyemi, recently highlighted the economic contributions of the FTZs while addressing the Senate Committee on Industry, Trade, and Investment.

Ogunyemi noted that these zones have created substantial wealth for the states hosting them and generated significant revenue for various agencies.

“Agencies such as the Nigeria Customs Service, the Immigration Services, and the Nigerian Ports Authority have seen revenues of N59.38 billion, N828.7 million, and N8.738 billion, respectively, while states have received N998 million in Pay As You Earn (PAYE) remittances,” Ogunyemi reported.

He also highlighted the broader impact of the FTZs, noting that as of the end of 2023, the 46 licensed zones had provided 38,429 direct jobs and an additional 172,930 indirect jobs.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) worth $491.8 million and local direct investment amounting to N1.15 trillion have flowed into these zones, with N1.62 trillion worth of cargo imported from 2019 to 2023, saving scarce foreign exchange.

David Adonri, Vice President of Highcap Securities Limited, praised NEPZA’s achievements, suggesting that the government use these successes to encourage more Nigerians to start manufacturing businesses within the FTZs.

“The remittances from the free trade zones are commendable and should be a marketing tool to attract more investments,” Adonri said.

However, some experts believe there is room for improvement. Professor Olusegun Ajibola of Babcock University argued that while the remittances are noteworthy, they are not yet at a level worth celebrating.

“The government needs to intensify efforts in revenue generation from these zones as they were established at a significant cost to the host states,” Ajibola remarked.

He called for a review of the 32-year-old NEPZA Act to address any challenges and enhance the performance of the FTZs.

As Nigeria continues to seek ways to diversify its economy and reduce reliance on oil, the FTZs present a promising avenue. With strategic investments and robust management, these zones could indeed surpass their current contributions, fostering economic growth and stability for the nation.

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Nigeria’s Dangote Refinery Breaks Into Asian Market with LSSR Shipment

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In a historic move, Dangote Refinery is set to ship low-sulfur straight-run fuel oil (LSSR) from Nigeria to Singapore this week, its entry into the Asian market.

This development represents a significant milestone for the refinery, which began operations in January following a $20 billion investment.

According to ship tracking data and market sources, the refinery will initiate a new trade route from Nigeria to Asia, a region that consistently demands low-sulfur fuel oil for ship refueling at Singapore, the world’s largest bunker hub.

The Glencore-chartered vessel, Front Brage, will deliver approximately 124,000 metric tons (787,400 barrels) of LSSR to Singapore, with the shipment expected to arrive on Wednesday.

The Dangote Refinery, with a processing capacity of up to 650,000 barrels of products per day, is poised to become the largest refinery in Africa and Europe once it reaches full capacity.

Since March, the refinery has increased its LSSR exports, primarily sending cargoes to the Americas and Europe, as reported by ship tracking data from Kpler and Vortexa.

“This first shipment to Asia marks a new chapter in Dangote Refinery’s expansion strategy,” said a market analyst. “Breaking into the Asian market underscores the refinery’s growing influence and its capability to meet diverse global fuel demands.”

Market sources suggest that the cargo was redirected to Asia due to weaker demand in Europe. Data from LSEG indicates that the east-west spread for front-month 0.5 percent LSFO, reflecting the price difference between these regions, stayed above $40 per ton this week.

Dangote’s LSSR cargoes are priced against Rotterdam’s 0.5 percent LSFO quotes on a free-on-board basis, although the specific pricing differential for this shipment was not disclosed by market sources.

This pioneering shipment is the beginning of a series of exports to Asia. Another LSSR shipment from the Dangote refinery, containing around 157,000 tons, is expected to reach Singapore in July aboard the vessel Stena Suede, based on ship tracking data.

LSSR is typically blended with other fuels to create low-sulfur fuel oil (LSFO) for bunkering or used as feedstock in various refinery processes.

This export initiative not only diversifies Dangote Refinery’s market reach but also enhances Nigeria’s position in the global energy market.

In February, Dangote began exporting oil products and started purchasing crude oil, mainly from the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Ltd, in December 2023.

The refinery’s successful entry into the Asian market is anticipated to drive further growth and establish new trade relationships, reinforcing its status as a key player in the global oil industry.

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This landmark export not only demonstrates Dangote Refinery’s operational capabilities but also signals Nigeria’s expanding influence in the global energy sector. As the refinery continues to innovate and expand, it is well-positioned to meet the increasing global demand for cleaner, more efficient fuels.

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Nigerian Refiners Pursue Afreximbank Financing Amid $18bn Funding Plan

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Investors in Nigeria’s modular refineries are actively engaging with the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) to secure a portion of the $18 billion fund earmarked by the bank for the development of refineries in Nigeria and other African nations.

This initiative follows the successful financial backing provided by Afreximbank to the $19 billion Dangote Petroleum Refinery, which has commenced production of refined petroleum products for both domestic use and export.

Sources within the modular refining sector confirmed that discussions are underway, with significant interest from Clairgold Refinery and Shinjin Petro Chemicals.

Both companies have initiated talks with Afreximbank officials to source funds for their refinery projects in Nigeria.

However, the modular refinery operators have expressed concerns regarding the feedstock supply for their plants, which is a critical guarantee required by financial institutions for funding.

The operators, represented by the Crude Oil Refinery Owners Association of Nigeria (CORAN), praised Afreximbank’s support for the Dangote Petroleum Refinery during its construction phase.

“We are in active discussions with Afreximbank, although no modular refinery has received financing from the bank yet,” said Eche Idoko, Publicity Secretary of CORAN. “Shinjin Petro Chemicals, which is constructing a 3,000 barrels per day plant, and Clairgold Modular Refineries are among those in talks with Afreximbank and the Bank of Industry. We are hopeful for positive outcomes.”

Afreximbank’s commitment to supporting refinery construction was reiterated at the 2024 Afreximbank annual meetings in Nassau, The Bahamas.

The bank’s president, Benedict Oramah, highlighted the strategic objective to refine 50% of Africa’s crude oil production within the continent.

Oramah emphasized the bank’s role in the successful financing of the Dangote refinery as a model for future projects.

“We are proud to be associated with these transformational projects, which demonstrate the critical role of African capital in financing our development,” Oramah stated. “Our broader strategy includes supporting the construction of a new refinery in Cabinda, Angola, and refurbishing the Port Harcourt refinery in Nigeria. Our goal is to ensure that at least 50% of the crude oil produced in the Gulf of Guinea is refined in Africa.”

Despite the optimism, modular refinery operators have identified several challenges in accessing these funds.

These include securing guarantees related to feedstock supply and completing necessary engineering designs.

“The issue of feedstock remains a significant hurdle, as financiers require assurances on this front,” Idoko noted. “We are optimistic that Afreximbank will address these concerns given their recent declaration to support modular refineries.”

The ongoing discussions come at a time when Nigeria is grappling with its highest inflation rate in 28 years, driven largely by food costs.

The economic strain is exacerbating poverty and reducing the purchasing power of the nation’s 231 million residents, 60% of whom are classified as multidimensionally poor.

Modular refineries, which require significantly less capital investment compared to traditional full-scale refineries, are seen as a viable solution to boost local refining capacity and reduce dependence on imported refined petroleum products.

However, the operators have raised alarms about systemic issues within the oil sector that impede in-country refining, echoing concerns voiced by Aliko Dangote regarding the influence of entrenched interests.

As negotiations with Afreximbank continue, the modular refinery operators remain cautiously optimistic, hoping that the bank’s support will pave the way for enhanced domestic refining capabilities and contribute to Nigeria’s economic resilience.

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