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French Trade Advisors pledge Massive Investment In Lagos Free Zone

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The Conseillers du Commerce Exterieur (French Foreign Trade Advisors) has expressed readiness to invest massively in the Lagos Free Zone (LFZ) being developed by the Tolaram Group as they endorsed the zone as the ideal industrial destination for French businesses in Nigeria.

This was made known on Thursday, April 15, 2021, during a visit to the Lagos Free Zone. The delegation led by the Ambassador of France to Nigeria, His Excellency Jerome Pasquier accompanied by his Economic Advisor, the Consulate General of France in Lagos and the Conseillers du Commerce Exterieur comprising of CEOs of several French businesses in Nigeria.

Speaking during the visit, the Ambassador of France in Nigeria, His Excellency Jerome Pasquier explained that the aim of the visit of the Conseillers du Commerce Exterieur to Lagos Free Zone (LFZ) was to discover the opportunities in the Lagos Free Zone and the Lekki Port project, which is expected to have a huge positive impact on businesses in Nigeria.

Pasquier commended Tolaram Group, the promoter of the zone, for the foresight of integration of Lekki Port into the master plan of the Lagos Free Zone (LFZ), which would serve as the gateway for import and export from the zone thereby giving businesses in the zone a competitive edge.

The Ambassador also commended the Lagos Free Zone (LFZ) for its Master Plan for the zone which includes world-class infrastructure that is in line with its vision to be the preferred industrial hub and investment destination in West Africa.

“I am impressed by the huge size of the Lagos Free Zone project. We are very happy that the French companies will be deeply involved in this Lagos Free Zone project. It is really impressive to see how ambitious this project is. The French Minister was in Nigeria yesterday and I explained to him that Nigeria is a country where we can have big projects. For us, this project means big opportunities and that explains why we need to be here. We are happy to be here and work with Tolaram Group”, he added.

It is noteworthy to mention that the first French company to be established in the Lagos Free Zone is the terminal operations arm of CMA – CGM which has established a subsidiary within the Lagos Free Zone and is the appointed operator for the container terminal operations scheduled to commence at Lekki Port next year.

In his remarks, the Chief Executive Officer, Lagos Free Zone (LFZ), Mr. Dinesh Rathi assured the Ambassador of France and the Conseillers du Commerce Exterieur that the zone remains the best destination for investment in Nigeria and the West African sub-region given the seamless integration with Lekki Port and the world-class infrastructure provided by Lagos Free Zone.

Explaining the configuration of the zone, Rathi disclosed that the clustering is planned in line with the international best practices of Work, Live, and Play. He stated that the land-use plan of the Lagos Free Zone allocates 70 percent area towards industrial developments, 20 percent towards logistics and support services while the real estate will cover the remaining 10 percent.

He also stated that Lagos Free Zone (LFZ) has simplified the process of business entry and operation in the zone in line with the Federal Government of Nigeria’s Ease of Doing Business policy.

“We have made it very easy for the business to berth and take off at zone by making our process less cumbersome and friendly, we are open for business 24/7 and willing to help investors to settle in very fast,” he said.

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SMEs

Fidelity Bank To Develop SMEs Capacity in Non-oil Exports Sector

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Fidelity Bank SMEs Capacity-Investors King

In furtherance of its resolve to help Nigerian businesses build sustainable export capabilities, leading Nigerian lender, Fidelity Bank Plc, is set to host the 11th and 12th editions of its highly acclaimed Export Management Programme (EMP).

Launched in 2016, the EMP is targeted at preparing participants for real-time experiences in the international non-oil export markets and the broader export market at large. The session typically covers a wide range of topics including Export documentation, Selection and Implementation of Supply Chain Management for Exports, Application of Export Development Business Processes amongst others.

Speaking on the programme, the Managing Director, Fidelity Bank Plc, Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe noted that, “As a leading supporter of small businesses, we introduced the EMP five years ago to bridge the knowledge gap in the export business locally and to help participants to compete effectively in the global export market. Given the success, we have recorded in the course of the programme and following the yearnings of potential participants, we decided to host an edition of the training in Kano for those who are unable to attend the session in Lagos.”

While EMP 11 is scheduled to hold at the Lagos Business School (LBS), Lekki, Lagos between 4 and 8 October 2021; EMP 12 would hold at a soon-to-be-announced venue in Kano State from 11 to 15 October 2021. The sessions would be facilitated by leading faculty from LBS, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) staff as well as experts in financial management and exports.

Fidelity Bank has over the years demonstrated its resolve to grow the non-oil export side of the economy through strategic initiatives and partnerships. For instance, the bank provided over N32.7 billion in credits to businesses operating in strategic sectors including rice, dairy, poultry, oil palm and cocoa in 2019. The bank has also successfully leveraged strategic partnerships with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) under various industry targeted intervention funding programmes to enhance access to credit for eligible players in the agribusiness and non-oil exports space with the aim of addressing food security gaps and enhancing foreign exchange earnings.

“The benefits of supporting the non-oil sector of the economy cannot be overemphasized given the immense benefits that it provides to the economy and the nation in terms of providing much needed foreign exchange investments, increasing our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employment generation. This informs our decision to host the EMP regularly and we enjoin interested entrepreneurs to take advantage of this initiative to take their business to the next level,” Onyeali-Ikpe explained.

To register for the event, kindly visit www.fidelitybank.ng

About Fidelity Bank Plc

Fidelity Bank is a full-fledged commercial bank operating in Nigeria, with about 6million customers who are serviced across its 250 business offices and various other digital banking channels. The bank has in recent times won accolades as the Best SME Friendly Bank, Best in Mobile Banking and the Most Improved Corporate/Investment Bank among several industry awards and recognitions. The bank was also ranked the 4th Best Bank in the Retail Banking Segment in the 2017 Banking Industry Satisfaction Survey conducted by KPMG.

Focused on select niche corporate banking sectors as well as Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), Fidelity Bank is rapidly implementing a digital-based retail banking strategy which has resulted in an exponential growth in savings deposits over the last 3 years and a corresponding surge in customer enrollment on the bank’s flagship mobile/internet banking products.

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Afrexim and Asoko Partner to Help List African Companies

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Afreximbank - Investors King

Asoko Insight, Africa’s leading provider of corporate data and engagement services, is pleased to announce a partnership with Africa Export-Import Bank that will help African companies list on its due diligence platform, the MANSA.

Launched by Afrexim in 2018 to counter the cuts in trade finance and investment financial flows to Africa, MANSA aims to be a single source of the primary data required for Customer Due Diligence (CDD) and Know Your Customer (KYC) checks on African entities. The transparency MANSA provides will address key trade-related challenges facing the continent, including the lack of market information, the high cost of doing business in Africa and the challenges around discovering African counterparties.

The corporate information gathered through this KYC platform provides an additional layer of confidence for international financiers and African companies seeking business partners,  unlocking the flow of capital and creating a more transparent operational landscape for trade and investment.

Onboarded as an official data partner for the project, Asoko will host access to the MANSA platform on its Digital Engagement platform through which African companies can register and submit their CDD/KYC information to be listed on the MANSA platform.

Rob Withagen, co-founder and CEO of Asoko Insight, said, “Easing access to African companies for trade and investment opportunities is at the core of Asoko’s work. MANSA is a key tool for facilitating data sharing about members of Africa’s vibrant private sector and we’re pleased to offer a route to it via our Digital Engagement platform.

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HOPE Consortium and Astral Aviation Sign MOU to Enhance Vaccine Distribution Solutions in Africa

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HOPE Consortium - Investors King

As part of its continued commitment to vaccine distribution in Africa, the HOPE Consortium has partnered with Kenya-based cargo airline, Astral Aviation, to offer vaccine distribution solutions to Africa. This highlights the HOPE Consortium’s efforts in reinforcing partnerships that focus on fighting the COVID-19 global pandemic, as well as fulfilling the organisation’s mission as a global logistics facilitator, by aiding in vaccine delivery.

As part of the partnership agreement, both entities will focus on intra-African cooperation to enhance vaccine distribution within the African continent. The HOPE Consortium will utilise Astral Aviation’s comprehensive network, technologies, and market expertise, to support its global objective of facilitating vaccine availability with a specific emphasis on the African continent. The alliance will ensure timely delivery of vaccines and critical supplies to all 54 African nations.

Astral Aviation operates a diverse fleet of 14 freighter aircraft and provides innovative, flexible, and cost-effective UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) and UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) integrated drone-based solutions, as well as warehousing solutions to both in-store and remote locations.

This synergetic collaboration with the HOPE Consortium will see Astral Aviation provide capacity for vaccine deliveries on its scheduled and charter freighter network, in addition to world-class drone solutions and systems to Africa, with the purpose of facilitating immunisation programmes.

Commenting on the partnership, Mr. Sanjeev Gadhia, CEO of Astral Aviation said: “We are truly honoured to partner with the HOPE Consortium and participate in the critical distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, based on our track record in performing humanitarian initiatives and vaccine flights within Africa. Astral will add further technological and warehousing solutions for distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines from the hub in Abu Dhabi, to all the 54 countries in Africa directly or via its Nairobi Hub, which occupies 9000 m2 of cold-storage facilities.”

It is worth mentioning that Astral has also been selected by UNICEF to perform vaccine flights for COVAX and for the African Union via the African Medical Supplies Platform.

Through this partnership, the HOPE Consortium furthers its end-to-end supply chains required to distribute vaccines from their base in Abu Dhabi to all African countries. The HOPE Consortium has geared its operations to transport millions of critical COVID-19 vaccines to any country in need and thus far has handled over 100 million vaccine doses across 40 countries.

Robert Sutton, Head of Logistics Cluster, Abu Dhabi Ports, said: “Africa has always been a high priority market for the HOPE Consortium, and to that end, we are pleased to join hands with Astral Aviation. With a track record of operating over 20 years within Africa, their expertise provides a new dimension towards achieving our overarching objectives. This partnership reinforces the HOPE Consortium’s aim of creating a sustainable ecosystem, based on our collective global networks, logistics and supply chain capabilities, in order to facilitate vaccine distribution across the world. Our partnership with Astral Aviation is another benchmark towards our commitment to serve every country, region, and locale. We are confident that this partnership will help enhance HOPE Consortium’s efforts in Africa and ensure that no one is left behind in the quest against the pandemic.”

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