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Calls for Deregulation of Nigeria’s Fuel Market Persist

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  • Calls for Deregulation of Nigeria’s Fuel Market Persist

The recent rise in the landing cost of petroleum products has renewed the calls for the full deregulation of the downstream subsector of the nation’s oil and gas industry, ’FEMI ASU writes

As private marketers continue to stay on the sidelines in terms of petroleum products importation, stakeholders have reiterated the need for the Federal Government to fully deregulate the fuel market.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has been the sole importer of petrol into the country for more than a year as private oil marketers stopped importation due to shortage of foreign exchange and increase in crude oil prices, which made the landing cost of the product higher than the official pump price of N145 per litre.

“In the downstream sector, the NNPC continued to ensure increased Premium Motor Spirit supply and effective distribution across the country. In pursuit of sustained seamless distribution of petroleum products and zero fuel queues across the nation, the corporation has continued to maintain an eagle eye on the daily stock of PMS,” the corporation said in its latest monthly report.

The Federal Government had on May 11, 2016 announced a new petrol price band of N135 to N145 per litre, a move that was described as a partial deregulation as it signalled the end of fuel subsidy.

The PUNCH reported in January 15, 2017 that the Federal Government had resorted to subsidy regime following an increase in the landing cost of petrol, with the NNPC, which was responsible for about 90 per cent of the importation of the product, bearing the latest subsidy cost on behalf of the government.

The Group Managing Director, NNPC, on December 23, 2017, said that the Federal Government had been resisting intense pressure to increase the pump price of petrol, noting that the landing cost of the commodity was N171.4 per litre as of December 22, when oil price was around $64 per barrel.

The Chairman, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr Andrew Gbodume, said at a briefing in October that the nation’s current business model for the distribution of petroleum products was unsustainable.

“We feel the time is now to encourage a well-informed and honest debate among ourselves as Nigerians on our downstream pricing policy, showing sensitivity to the fears of Nigerians and the challenges we face as a people and as an economy to arrive at an equitable but sustainable business model,” he said.

At the OTL Africa Downstream Conference in Lagos held earlier this month, many of the speakers and panellists highlighted the importance of deregulation in the sector.

The Principal Partner, Kenna & Partners, a law firm, Prof. Fabian Ajogwu, said the process of deregulation would carry the advantage of opening up the sector to competition “where the players are able to participate at every segment of the value chain, and the removal of entry barriers in the supply and distribution of petroleum products.”

He said, “Every player is given the opportunity to refine or import petroleum products for use in the country so far as the products so refined or imported meet quality specifications.

“The appeal of the deregulation of the downstream sector is clear in that it would encourage efficiencies in the sector. However, bold reforms will be necessary to allow for private sector entry into the sector.

“These reforms would include downstream capacity enhancements and safe operations, building up strategic product reserves, improved sector logistics, private sector investment in sector infrastructure, permanently removing all petroleum product subsidies, among others.”

The Executive Secretary, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr Olufemi Adewole, said, “With the landing cost as it is right now, we can’t bring in products because we can’t absorb the subsidy, and we don’t have access to foreign exchange.

“If the government takes the bull by the horn and deregulate the sector, then we will see private marketers do what we know best to do.”

The Chief Executive Officer/Executive Secretary, MOMAN, Mr Clement Isong, said the downstream petroleum industry regulations should be in line with international best practice.

He said the implementation and compliance with these regulations, the concept of cost recovery and competitive investment returns will ensure the sustainability of the downstream petroleum industry.

He said, “As the market players grow their business, they will increasingly become exposed to risk management challenges and will move their capital to areas where return matches the risks.

“We recommend that government should deregulate pump prices and focus on enforcing compliance with adequate regulations on health, safety, environment and quality.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Nigerian Brand, JR Farms Acquires 11% Stake in Rwandan Firm

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Nigerian Brand, JR Farms Acquires 11% Stake in Rwandan Firm

JR Firms, an agribusiness firm with headquarters in Nigeria, has announced partnership with Sanit Wing Rwanda through the acquisition of 11 per cent stake in the company.

The CEO of the company, Mr Rotimi Olawale, explained in a statement that the partnership was in furtherance of its goals to ensure food security, create decent jobs and raise the next generation of agrarian leaders in Africa.

The stake was acquired through Green Agribusiness Fund, an initiative of JR Farms designed to invest in youth-led agribusinesses across Africa.

Sanit Wing Rwanda is an agro-processing company that processes avocado oil and cosmetics that are natural, quality, affordable, reliable and viable.

The vision of the company is to become the leading producers of best quality avocado and avocado by-products in Africa by creating value across the avocado value chain.

With focus on bringing together over 20,000 professional Avocado farmers on board and planting of three million avocado trees by 2025 through contract farming, the company currently works with One Acre Fund in supply of avocado to its processing facility.

The products of the company which include avocado oil, skin care (SANTAVO), hair cream and soap are being sold locally and exported to regional market in Kenya.

With the new partnership with JR Farms- the products of the company will enjoy more access to markets focusing on Africa and the European Union by leveraging on partnerships and trade windows available.

Aside funding, the partnership comes with project support in areas of market exposure, capacity building, exposure and other thematic support to grow the business over the next four years.

JR Farms has agribusiness operations in Nigeria, Rwanda, United States and Zambia respectively.

In Nigeria, the company deals in cassava value chain processing cassava to national staple “garri” which is consumed by over 80 million Nigerians on daily basis, while in Rwanda, it works in the coffee value chain with over 4,000 coffee farmers spread across the East Central African country.

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Shut Down Depots Selling Petrol Above Approved Price – Marketers

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Shut Down Depots Selling Petrol Above Approved Price – Marketers

The Federal Government should close down depots that are selling petrol above the approved price, oil marketers said on Thursday.

National President, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Sanusi Fari, said the sale of petrol above government approved price by depot owners would soon lead to a hike in the commodity’s pump price.

Fari told journalists in Abuja that the government through its agencies such as the Department of State Services and the Department of Petroleum Resources should curb the development to avoid crisis in the downstream oil sector.

He said some private depot owners were selling at N165 per litre to independent marketers, way above the government stipulated price of N148 per litre.

Fari said, “Our challenge is the inconsistency in the pricing of petrol. Up till a week ago, government was still insisting that the February price for petrol remained unchanged.

“And most of the private depot owners are selling above the government stipulated price. As at today ( February 25, 2021) private depot owners are selling at N165 per litre to independent marketers.”

He added, “In the last six years, only NNPC imports refined products into this country and these tank farms buy their products from NNPC under a controlled price.

“This has affected our businesses seriously because government is insisting that we sell at the rate of N165, which is not going to work.”

The IPMAN president said filling station owners buy the product at N165 per litre from the private depots and incur other expenses such as transportation, rent, etc.

“So government cannot expect us to sell less than what we buy,” he said.

Fari added, “This is why we are calling on government and agencies that are saddled with the responsibility to control petrol pricing to urgently clamp down on depots that are selling above the stipulated price.”

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the country’s sole importer of patrol, recently stated that it never hiked the cost of petrol to depots.

It also enjoined the depot owners to sell the product at the approved rate and called on the DPR to enforce the stipulated price across the depots.

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Nigeria Will Benefit Less From African Trade Deal – NESG

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Nigeria Will Benefit Less From African Trade Deal – NESG

Nigeria and other resource-based countries will benefit less from the African Continental Free Trade Area than economies that are more diversified, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group has said.

The NESG, a private sector-led think-tank, said in its 2021 Macroeconomic Outlook that Nigeria could reap more gains through export diversification away from crude oil.

It said trade in Africa remained dominated by raw materials and less processed products, adding that on average, minerals and agriculture accounted for 44 per cent and 16 per cent of intra-African trade respectively between 2007 and 2017.

The NESG said, “Evidence has shown that African economies that are more diversified and have improved transport infrastructure, would benefit more from the trade pact than others that are resource-based and agricultural dependent.

“Putting this in context, South Africa currently accounts for 40 per cent of intra-African manufacturing imports. On the other hand, resource-based countries, such as, Algeria, Egypt and Nigeria – which collectively account for approximately 50 per cent of Africa’s GDP – contribute only 11 per cent to intra-African trade.”

“Another bone of contention is the issue of ‘rules of origin’, which constitutes a significant risk factor. This implies that protectionism practices by some countries could constitute a setback for the establishment of the ambitious single market for Africa. But there are several reasons to be optimistic,” it added.

The group said the World Bank estimates revealed that the AfCFTA would promote manufacturing exports over natural resources, agricultural and services exports, and that manufacturing exports would account for one-third of the projected total exports of $2.5tn by 2035.

It said, “Nigeria could reap more gains through export diversification away from crude oil, as manufacturing exports currently account for an average of nine per cent of the country’s total exports.

“This suggests that efforts should be directed at strengthening domestic value chains, particularly the agro-allied industrial base.

“To achieve this, there is a need to attract private capital, most especially, FDI, that would allow for knowledge and technological transfers.”

According to the NESG, for Nigeria to maximally benefit from the trade deal, there is an urgent need to also address transport infrastructure bottlenecks and provide improved logistics.

It said, “Finding a lasting solution to the Apapa gridlock by creating similar ports in other regions of the country, so as to ensure speedy clearance of consignments needs to be prioritised.

“Nigeria also needs to set standards for locally-made goods to enhance their attractiveness in the regional market.

“The Nigerian government as a matter of urgency needs to operate an efficient and corruption-free land border system, so as to guide against the importation of low-cost sub-standard products into the country.

“It is only when these and many more reforms are implemented that Nigeria can begin to reap the benefits of the trade deal.”

The group noted that owing to the outbreak of COVID-19, the implementation of the AfCFTA was postponed from July 1, 2020 to January 1, 2021.

It said, “The key goal of the free trade pact is to expand the volume of intra-African trade, which stood at 16 per cent in 2018 .“Till date, 36 countries, including Nigeria, have ratified the agreement. The trade deal is expected to create a single market with a combined GDP of $2.5tn and total population or market size of 1.2 billion.”

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