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US, Nigeria Intensify Efforts to Tackle Piracy, Others

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  • US, Nigeria Intensify Efforts to Tackle Piracy, Others

The United States and Nigeria have stepped up efforts to curb illicit maritime activities including piracy in the Gulf of Guinea with the ongoing 2019 Obangame Express in Lagos.

The International Maritime Bureau, in its global piracy report released in January, said it recorded a “marked rise in attacks against ships and crews around West Africa”, describing the Gulf of Guinea as “particularly dangerous for seafarers.”

“In a worrisome trend, this violence accelerated in the last quarter of the year. 41 kidnappings were recorded off Nigeria between October and December, more than half the annual total,” it added.

Senior leaders from the United States Africa Command and the Nigerian Navy, representatives of maritime forces from the Gulf of Guinea, Europe, North and South America, as well as regional and international organisations, converged on Lagos last Thursday for the opening ceremony of the Obangame Express.

Now in its ninth year, Obangame Express is an annual multinational maritime exercise designed to improve cooperation among the participating nations in order to increase maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea.

Obangame Express is part of a comprehensive strategy by the US Africa Command and US Naval Forces Europe-Africa to provide collaborative opportunities among African forces and international partners that address maritime security concerns, according to a statement.

The Nigerian Navy is hosting the 2019 exercise from March 14 to 22.

As part of the events to open the 2019 Obangame Express, the US Consul General, John Bray, and Nigeria’s Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, inaugurated the Nigerian Navy’s Maritime Domain Awareness Training School in Apapa.

The training school was built by the Nigerian Navy and equipped by the US Navy, according to the statement.

Bray noted that the Obangame Exercise had grown in leaps and bounds, both in complexity and in accomplishment.

“We note the efforts by regional navies to work together in the spirit of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct, which is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness, information-sharing practices, and tactical interdiction expertise, to enhance the collective capabilities of the Gulf of Guinea and West African nations to counter sea-based illicit activity,” he said.

He described the Maritime Domain Awareness Training School as one of the most evident examples of the enduring partnership.

“This school will be a regional centre of excellence in the area of maritime domain awareness where neighbouring countries will be trained,” Bray added.

The Director, Directorate of Intelligence, US Africa Command, Rear Admiral Heidi Berg, lauded the commitment of the 33 nations scheduled to participate in this year’s exercise.

According to her, illicit maritime activities such as illegal fishing, trafficking of weapons, narcotics and people, as well as the ongoing threat of piracy, undermine the rule of law, food security, and economic development in the region.

She said, “This exercise is a clear demonstration of the United States’ dedication to combat these illicit activities and help our partners in the Gulf of Guinea to provide security for their resources, their economy, and their people. Obangame Express 2019 will make the region a safe place for maritime commerce and ultimately help increase the prosperity of the region.”

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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Economy

Nigeria-South Africa Trade Hits $2.9bn

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Shipowners

The volume of trade between Nigeria and South Africa hit $2.9 billion last year with expectation of it rising further with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

Nigeria’s Consul General, Malik Abdul, in a statement noted that Nigeria accounts for 64 per cent of South Africa’s trade in West Africa and is one of his country’s top three sources of crude oil.

He further added that in 2020, South Africa imported R35 billion ($2.48 billion) worth of goods, predominantly crude oil from Nigeria and exported R6 billion ($425milion) to Nigeria.

He stated: “South Africa is currently among the top 10 per cent of investors in Nigeria, globally and Nigeria is South Africa’s 10th biggest export market in Africa and thirty-second globally. Nigeria accounts for 64 per cent of South Africa’s trade with West Africa and is one of South Africa’s top three sources of crude oil.

“Also, Nigeria in 2020 was South Africa’s top import market in Africa and sixth globally, after China, Germany, USA, India and Saudi Arabia. Over the past year, South Africa imported $2.48 billion worth of goods predominantly crude oil from Nigeria and exported $425 million worth to Nigeria.”

Also, the consulate said his embassy issued a total of 10,341 passports to Nigerian citizens in South Africa between March 2020 and May 2021.

The consul general further said the Mission had 404 unclaimed passports, and advised all those whose passports were processed and pending from August 2020 to come for collection.

Abdul added that the consulate was working to clear all COVID-19 lockdown backlog of applications, urging members of the public to exercise patience while the mission was resolving the backlogs.

On the re-introduction of administrative fees and charges for lost passports, Abdul said that the step was taken to harmonise and standardise consular services following approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja.

The Mission had increased the fees for lost passports from R1,500 to R2,000, and admin charges of R120 for data capturing.

“On this issue, the Mission could not unilaterally impose any charges without headquarters’ approval or consent.

“The admin fees of R120 pertains to all services rendered by the two Missions,” he said.
According to the Nigerian envoy, the decision was taken to remove disparities in all consular services, noting that visa fees have also been harmonised.

On penalty for lost passports, Abdul disclosed that 484 Nigerian passports were reported missing at the mission between August 2020 and May 2021 with request for re-issue.

Abdul said it was discovered that there were criminal undertones and immigration rules infractions associated with the ‘so-called’ lost passport declarations.

“In line with practice in other Missions, there was a need to impose fines to deter people from engaging in such infractions.

“At such an astronomical rate of loss declarations, the option will be to refer such losses to Nigeria for processing.

“This will save the booklet for genuine requests of re-issue and thereby reducing the backlog and pressure on the Mission,” the envoy said.

Abdul disclosed that the consulate had received a directive to embargo processing of lost passports pending further instructions from the headquarters.

The consul general then accused some Nigerian groups in South Africa of, “peddling lies and outright falsehoods” against the Mission and his person.

“These disgruntled elements have gone ahead to incite fellow Nigerians with intent to sabotage the Mission.

“Moreover, a lie and falsehoods often repeated amounts to a propaganda which can be misinterpreted by the gullible and undiscerning as truth,” he said.

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Economy

NNPC Engages Gas Producers to Improve Power Supply

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Electricity - Investors King

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has started engaging gas producers across the country in an effort to boost gas supply to power generation companies (Gencos) and subsequently improve electricity supply.

Mr. Yusuf Usman, the Chief Operating Officer, Gas and Power, NNPC, disclosed this in Lagos during his tour of Egbin Power Plc facility on Monday.

Usman, who responded to concerns raised by the Chairman of Egbin Power Plc, Mr. Temitope Shonubi, said the company’s concern on gas supply and transmission restrictions had been noted, adding that the corporation would support it to ensure constant power supply.

I have listened to all the concerns you raised. An area of concern to me is when you talked about the gas constraints. We are going to support you to make sure that the power supply is steady. We are having a session with gas suppliers in this regard.

“I am aware that works are ongoing in this regard to ensure that all the power we generate is safely evacuated,” Usman said.

Usman, however, said he was impressed by the level of progress being recorded by Egbin, noting that the effort of the company’s management to effect turnaround maintenance at the company through overhaul of the entire system, was commendable.

Usman added: “The visit has been an eye opener for me. We have seen turbines that have been running for over 40 years. We have seen efforts being made by Egbin management to effect a turnaround at the plant through overhaul of the entire system.

“We have also seen the support you have been given to the youths through employment and capacity development opportunities.”

Shonubi, in his remarks, said Egbin Power was planning to increase power generation by 1,900 megawatt.

Shonubi said: “Egbin has 1,320MW capacity. As at the time we took over, the plant was generating 300MW which is abysmal 22 per cent. As at today, our generation capacity has surged and we do 89 per cent.

“We have reached the highest peak of 970MW and we are working hard to ensure sustainability of this feat.

“The 970MW we hit is the highest recorded this year and based on our core value of sustainability, we are working round the clock to make sure that we sustain the gains, which we have made.”

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Economy

Nigeria’s Inflation Rate Moderates to 17.93 Percent in May

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consumer price index - Investors King

Inflation in Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria, moderated from 18.12 percent year-on-year in April to 17.93 percent year-on-year in May, according to the latest report from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

On a monthly basis, headline inflation grew by 1.01 percent in May. Representing an increase of 0.04 percent when compared to 0.97 percent filed in April.

Core inflation, which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural
produce stood at 13.15 percent in May 2021, up by 0.41 percent when compared with 12.74 percent recorded in April 2021.

On month-on-month basis, the core sub-index increased by 1.24 percent in May 2021. This was up by 0.25 percent when compared with 0.99 percent recorded in April 2021.

The highest increases were recorded in prices of Pharmaceutical products, Garments, Shoes and other footwear, Hairdressing salons and personal grooming establishments, Furniture and furnishing, Carpet and other floor covering, Motor cars, Hospital services, Fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipments, Cleaning, repair and hire of clothing, Other services in respect of personal transport equipments, Gas, Household textile and Non durable household goods.

The average 12-month annual rate of change of the index was 11.50 percent for the twelve-month period ending May 2021; this is 0.25 percent points higher than 11.25 percent recorded in April 2021.

Food index rose by 22.28 percent in the month of May 2021, up by 0.06 percent points from 0.99 percent recorded in April 2021.

The average annual rate of change of the Food sub-index for the twelve-month period ending May 2021 over the previous twelve-month average was 19.18 percent, 0.60 percent points from the average annual rate of change recorded in April 2021 (18.58) percent.

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