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Ex-minister Seeks Support for Free Trade Zones

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  • Ex-minister Seeks Support for Free Trade Zones

Former Interior Minister Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho has urged the Federal Government to support free trade zones.

Speaking in Lagos, he said well-developed free zones would generate jobs.

Importers, exporters and other stakeholders in the maritime value chain, he said, would also benefit from free trade zones.

Iheanacho, who is Genesis Shipping and Integrated Oil and Gas Company Cchairman, decried the low level of awareness about free trade zones, adding that their promotion by stakeholders and President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration was important for their development.

He said that Genesis Worldwide Shipping Company has gone far in the development of the $450 million Tomato Industrial Free Zone in Lagos and that the facility will aid ship building and fuel distribution.

The former minister added that the facility would have a shipbuilding yard for ships taht are over 10,000 deadweight tonnage (dwt).

”Nigeria has for a long time wanted to be a builder of ships; now we are making this a reality. The jetty for berthing and loading vessels will be ready in nine months,” he said.

Iheanacho said that his company had earlier secured a grant of $1 million from the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) to facilitate market study for the detailed engineering master plan of the island. He said the Island would also host a 20,000 barrels per day modular refinery and over 30 fuel storage tanks with about 500 million liters capacity.

He said with such facility, the nation could get 15 days uninterrupted supply of petroleum products. Already, the company has completed the construction of the base park, which serves as office complex, while the base for the tank farms are being completed with more under construction.

Iheanacho said the tank farms are structured in such a way that they supply and pump fuel to ships on the Island.

“This tank farm is different from every other tank farm that relies on arrangement where ships supply tank farms and then lorries come and pick up the supply. But because we are located on an Island and because of the function that they are designed for, we supply by ship then actually pump back by ship to the tank farms that are located to the West,” he explained.

He stated further that the company would start erecting more structures in the next few months to accommodate government agencies on the Island.

Iheanacho identified some businesses that are being planned at the free trade zone, which will add value to the economy in terms of industrialisation, employment and revenue generation.

The project, estimated at $450 million, includes a ship fabrication yard, a modular refinery, access slipway, oil storage tank farms, water treatment plant, power generation plant, container lay down/transit, and crude oil distillation unit, fire station, and a heliport and helicopter service facilities and a five-star hotel, among others.

The free port zone occupies 75 hectares of land in between the Snake Island and the Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base (LADOL), which are enjoying free trade zone status. According to Iheanacho, some Chinese and British investors have shown interest in investing in the project.

The Tomaro Industrial Park, which was last year granted a free trade zone status, is expected to generate 2,000 direct jobs on completion.

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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Federal Government Appeals to Electricity Union Amid Tariff Hike Tensions

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The Federal Government has made a direct appeal to the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) amidst rising tensions over the recent hike in electricity tariffs.

The plea comes as the union continues to voice its dissatisfaction with the government’s decision to remove the subsidy on the tariff payable by Band A customers, warning of potential service withdrawal if the decision is not reversed.

In an interview with our correspondent, Adebiyi Adeyeye, the National President of the NUEE, reiterated the union’s stance against the increase, citing the impracticality of expecting their members to collect higher tariffs from customers without a proportional improvement in service.

Adeyeye emphasized the union’s concerns over the discrepancy between the promised 20 hours of daily power supply and the actual delivery, which he deemed “not feasible” due to existing infrastructural limitations.

The Federal Government, represented by Minister of Power Adebayo Adelabu, called for understanding and patience from the union. Speaking through his media aide, Bolaji Tunji, Adelabu assured that efforts were being made to improve electricity supply across the nation. He emphasized the necessity of these changes for the country’s long-term economic growth and job creation.

“We just want to appeal to the labor union to understand the context of these changes. It’s about working together to address the underlying issues within the power sector. It is not anybody’s joy that there are blackouts all the time,” Adelabu stated.

He added that the steps being taken would ultimately benefit the economy and urged the union to bear with the government during this transitional phase.

Adeyeye maintained that the union’s primary objective is to safeguard the well-being of its members, who are facing increased threats due to the tariff hike.

He stressed the need for immediate action from the government to resolve the issues, stating that the union would withdraw its services if necessary.

As the standoff continues, the public watches with interest, hoping for a resolution that will avoid disruptions to the country’s power supply and maintain a harmonious relationship between the government and electricity workers.

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Minister of Power Pledges 6,000 Megawatts Electricity Generation in Six Months

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Adebayo Adelabu has made a bold pledge to ramp up electricity generation to 6,000 megawatts (MW) within the next six months.

This announcement comes amidst ongoing efforts to tackle the longstanding issue of inadequate power supply that has plagued the country for years.

During an appearance on Channel Television’s Politics Today program, Adelabu said the government is committed to resolving the issues hindering the power sector’s efficiency.

He expressed confidence in the administration’s ability to overcome the challenges and deliver tangible results to the Nigerian populace.

Currently, Nigeria generates and transmits over 4,000MW of electricity with distribution bottlenecks being identified as a major obstacle.

Adelabu assured that steps are being taken to address these distribution challenges and ensure that the generated power reaches consumers across the country effectively.

The minister highlighted that the government has been proactive in seeking the expertise of professionals and engaging stakeholders to identify the root causes of the power sector’s problems and devise appropriate solutions.

Adelabu acknowledged the existing gap between Nigeria’s installed capacity of 13,000MW and the actual generation output, attributing it to various factors that have impeded optimal performance.

Despite these challenges, he expressed optimism that the government’s initiatives would lead to a substantial increase in electricity generation, marking a significant milestone in Nigeria’s energy sector.

Addressing concerns about the recent decline in power generation due to low gas supply, Adelabu assured Nigerians that measures are being taken to rectify the situation.

He acknowledged the impact of power outages on citizens’ daily lives and reiterated the government’s commitment to providing stable electricity supply within the stipulated timeframe.

The Minister’s assurance of achieving 6,000MW of electricity generation in the next six months comes as a ray of hope for millions of Nigerians who have long endured the consequences of inadequate power supply.

With ongoing reforms and targeted interventions, there is optimism that Nigeria’s power sector will witness a transformative change, ushering in an era of improved access to electricity for all citizens.

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Nigeria’s Economic Woes to Drag Down Sub-Saharan Growth, World Bank Forecasts

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The World Bank’s latest report on the economic outlook for Western and Central Africa has highlighted Nigeria’s sluggish economic growth as a significant factor impeding the sub-region’s overall performance.

According to the report, while economic activities in the region are expected to increase, Nigeria’s lower-than-average growth trajectory will act as a hindrance to broader economic expansion.

The report indicates that economic activity in Western and Central Africa is set to rise from 3.2 percent in 2023 to 3.7 percent in 2024 and further accelerate to 4.2 percent in 2025–2026.

However, Nigeria’s growth, projected at 3.3 percent in 2024 and 3.6 percent in 2025–2026, falls below the sub-region’s average.

The World Bank underscores the importance of macroeconomic and fiscal reforms in Nigeria, which it anticipates will gradually yield results.

It expects the oil sector to stabilize with a recovery in production and slightly lower prices, contributing to a more stable macroeconomic environment.

Despite these measures, the report emphasizes the need for structural reforms to foster higher growth rates.

In contrast, economic activities in the West African Economic and Monetary Union are projected to increase significantly, with growth rates of 5.9 percent in 2024 and 6.2 percent in 2025.

Solid performances from countries like Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, and Senegal are cited as key drivers of growth in the region.

The report also highlights the importance of monetary policy adjustments and reforms in supporting economic growth.

For instance, a more accommodative monetary policy by the Central Bank of West African States is expected to bolster private consumption in Côte d’Ivoire.

Also, investments in sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, and telecommunications are anticipated to increase due to improvements in the business environment.

However, Nigeria continues to grapple with multidimensional poverty as highlighted by the National Bureau of Statistics.

Over half of Nigeria’s population is considered multidimensionally poor, with rural areas disproportionately affected. The World Bank underscores the need for concerted efforts to address poverty and inequality in the country.

Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole faces challenges in deepening and lengthening economic growth. Despite recent progress, growth remains volatile, and poverty rates remain high.

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