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Nigeria, India Bilateral Air Service Agreement

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  • Nigeria, India Bilateral Air Service Agreement

Recently the federal government signed a Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) with the Republic of India in order to deepen flight operations with the Asian country.

This was disclosed by the Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika through his twitter handle, as plans to reach this partnership had been afoot in the last six months.

While it is necessary to reach this agreement with India because of the increasing volume of trade, the increasing number of Indians doing business in Nigeria and the fact that India has provided succour to many sick Nigerians who could not be treated in the country, there is still apprehension about the agreement; whether like many others signed in the past, it was lopsided against the interest of Nigeria and her airlines.

India benefits most from medical tourism by Nigerians than anywhere in Africa, findings revealed that the major job of some Indian companies in Nigeria is to facilitate medical checks and movement of patients from the country to the world’s second most populated country.

Aviation industry consultant and CEO of Aglo Limited, Tayo Ojuri, said there is a lot of health tourism from Nigeria to India and that a lot of Indians are doing business in Nigeria.

Ojuri added: “Nigeria and India also have large population and market strata. There are some levels of balance of trade between the two countries.”

Sirika however, did not give details of the bilateral agreement in the information he made public but it has to be noted that currently there is no direct flight service between Nigeria and India.

Many Nigerians that travel connect flights in Addis Ababa or in Dubai but the federal government had designated Air Peace to Mumbai and with this agreement it is hoped that Indian carriers would be coming to Nigeria too.

But many industry observers are sceptical that many bilateral agreements entered into by Nigeria are always skewed against the country.

That explained why aviation experts have variously advised the federal government to review its BASA with many countries whose airline operate into Nigeria.

This is critical and sobering when it is considered that that foreign airlines generated revenues from ticket sales of over $3.2 billion in the last two years from Nigeria but no Nigerian airline benefitted from such long-haul operations.

The last time he was in Nigeria, the international aviation consultant, Chairman of African Business Aviation Association (AfBA) and the former Secretary-General of Africa Airlines Association (AFRAA), Nick Fadugba, said most of the BASA agreements signed between Nigeria and other countries are largely tilted against Nigeria and that it would be difficult to begin to renegotiate them.

He, however, said Nigeria should be careful henceforth and ensure that new BASA deals don’t follow the old ways.
“When I look at BASA in Nigeria, it is like we opened the stable door and the horse has gone and to catch it back it is going to be very difficult. We entered into BASA agreements with numerous countries, the principle of BASA is reciprocity and yet we entered into BASA and we are not able to reciprocate,” he said.

So industry operators are demanding that the federal government should make available the details of the agreement it recently signed with India to ensure that Nigeria is not short-changed.

They also stated that Nigeria should ensure that its own airlines benefit from such agreements and not just designating them to foreign destinations, adding, “other governments follow their airlines to do the leg work.”

The Director of Research and Strategy at Zenith Travels, Fidel Olu Ohunayo, said governments that care for the interest of their indigenous carriers must ensure that the interest of their home airlines are protected first but in Nigeria government officials sign agreements that are tilted against the interest of Nigerian operators.

Ohunayo, said there is no way Nigerian airlines can survive if government does not protect their interest as other countries do; noting that the priority of governments in aviation is to protect their own.

“British Airways has input in all British government’s bilateral, hence they get good slots in other countries, while our own carriers battle Heathrow or Gatwick airport management for slots and space which should have been factored in the BASA agreement Nigeria signed with UK,” he said.

Recently the President of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Babatunde Ruwase said the trade volume between Nigeria and India had hit over $20 billion, noting that the trade had brought about strong bilateral relationship.

It is estimated that Nigeria spends about $1.3 billion on overseas medical treatment, including kidney and heart diseases and many of them seek such treatment in India.

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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Electricity Consumers Get 611,231 Meters Under MAP Scheme

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Electricity Consumers Get 611,231 Meters Under MAP Scheme

A total of 611,231 meters have been deployed as at January 31, 2021 under the Meter Asset Provider initiative since its full operation despite the COVID-19 pandemic and other extraneous factors, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has said.

NERC disclosed this in a consultation paper on the review of the MAP Regulations.

The proposed review of the MAP scheme is coming nearly four months after the Federal Government launched a new initiative called National Mass Metering Programme aimed at distributing six million meters to consumers free of charge.

“The existence of a huge metering gap and the need to ensure successful implementation of the MYTO 2020 Service-Based Tariff resulted in the approval of the NMMP, a policy of the Federal Government anchored on the provision of long-term low interest financing to the Discos,” NERC said.

The commission had in March 2018 approved the MAP Regulations with the aim of fast-tracking the closure of the metering gap in the sector through the engagement of third-party investors (called meter asset providers) for the financing, procurement, supply, installation and maintenance of meters.

It set a target of providing meters to all customers within three years, and directed the Discos and the approved MAPs to commence the rollout of meters not later than May 1, 2019.

But in February 2020, NERC said several constraints, including changes in fiscal policy and the limited availability of long-term funding, had led to limited success in meter rollout.

NERC, in the consultation paper, highlighted three proposed options for metering implementation going forward.

The first option is to allow the implementation of both the NMMP and MAP metering frameworks to run concurrently; the second is to continue with the current MAP framework with meters procured under the NMMP supplied only through MAPs (by being off-takers from the local manufacturers/assemblers).

The third option is to wind down the MAP framework and allow the Discos to procure meters directly from local manufacturers/assemblers (or as procured by the World Bank), and enter into new contracts for the installation and maintenance of such meters.

“Customers who choose not to wait to receive meters based on the deployment schedule of the NMMP shall continue to have the option of making upfront payments for meters which will be installed within a maximum period of 10 working days,” NERC said.

The regulator said such customers would be refunded by the Discos through energy credits, adding that there would be no option for meter acquisition through the payment of a monthly meter service charge.

“Where meters have already been deployed under the meter service charge option, Discos shall make one-off repayment to affected customers and associated MAPs. Such meters shall be recognised in the rate base of the Discos,” it added.

NERC urged stakeholders to provide comments, objections, and representations on the proposed amendments within 21 days of the publication of the consultation paper.

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Nigeria’s Economy Moving in Right Direction but Slow – Amina Mohammed

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Nigeria’s Economy Moving in Right Direction but Slow – Amina Mohammed

Nigeria is moving in the right direction economically but its movement is not fast, the United Nations stated on Thursday.

Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, said this during a meeting at the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment in Abuja.

She said the challenges in Nigeria were huge, its population large but described the country’s economy as great with lots of opportunities.

The UN scribe stated that after traveling by train and through various roads in the Northern parts of Nigeria, she discovered that the roads were motorable, although there were ongoing repairs on some of them.

Mohammed said, “This is a country that is diverse in nature, ethnicity, religious backgrounds and opportunities. But these are its strengths, not weaknesses.

“And I think the narrative for Nigeria has to change to one that is very much the reality.”

Speaking on her trips across parts of Nigeria, she said, “What I saw along the way is really a country that is growing, that is moving in the right direction economically. Is it fast enough? No. Is it in the right direction? Yes it is.

“And the challenges still remain with security, our social cohesion and social contract between government and the people. But I know that people are working on these issues.”

She said the UN recognised the reforms in Nigeria and other nations, adding that the common global agenda was the Sustainable Development Goals.

Mohammad commended Nigeria’s quick response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as she expressed hope that the arrival of vaccines would be the beginning of the end of COVID-19.

On his part, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo, told his guest that the Federal Government was working hard to make Nigeria the entrepreneurial hub of Africa.

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N10.7tn Spent on Fuel Subsidy in 10 Years – MOMAN

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N10.7tn Spent on Fuel Subsidy in 10 Years – MOMAN

Nigeria spent a total of N10.7tn on fuel subsidy in the last 10 years, the Chairman, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr Adetunji Oyebanji, has said.

Oyebanji, who was the guest speaker at the 18th Aret Adams Lecture on Thursday, said N750bn was spent on subsidy in 2019.

He highlighted the need for a transition to a market-driven environment through policy-backed legislative and commercial frameworks, enabling the sustainability of the downstream petroleum sector.

“Total deregulation is more than just the removal of price subsidies; it is aimed at improving business operations, increasing the investments in the oil and gas sector value chain, resulting in the growth in the nation’s downstream petroleum sector as a whole,” he said.

The managing director of 11 Plc (formerly Mobil Oil Nigeria Plc) said steps had been taken, “but larger and faster leaps are now required.”

According to him, deregulation requires the creation of a competitive market environment, and will guarantee the supply of products at commercial and market prices.

“It requires unrestricted and profitable investments in infrastructure, earning reasonable returns to investors. It requires a strong regulator to enable transparency and fair competition among players, and not to regulate prices,” Oyebanji said.

He noted that MOMAN had recently called for a national debate by stakeholders to share pragmatic and realistic initiatives to ease the impact of the subsidy removal on society – especially on the most vulnerable.

He said, “A shift from crude oil production to crude oil full value realisation through deliberate investment in domestic refining and refined products distribution, creates the opportunity to transform the dynamics of the downstream sector from one of ‘net importer’ to one of ‘net exporter’, spurring the growth of the Nigerian economy.

“Effective reforms and regulations are key drivers for the growth within the refining sector. Non-functional refineries cost Nigeria over $13bn in 2019. If the NNPC refineries were operating at optimal capacity, Nigeria would have imported only 40 per cent of what it consumed in 2019.”

Full deregulation of the downstream sector remains the most glaring boost to potential investors in this space, according to Oyebanji.

He said, “As crude oil prices will fluctuate depending on the prevailing exchange rates, it will be astute to trade in naira to avoid inevitable price swings.

“There needs to be a balance between ensuring the sustainable growth of the crude oil value chain (upstream through downstream) and providing value for the Nigerian consumer and the Nigerian economy.”

He said the philosophy should be for the government to put the legislative and commercial framework in place and let the market develop by itself.

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