Afghanistan Turmoil Adds to Investors’ Worry List
The fast-evolving situation in Afghanistan must be added to investors’ growing list of global issues to track as stock markets digest that the Taliban are back in power, warns the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory, asset management and fintech organisations.
The warning from Nigel Green, chief executive and founder of deVere Group, follows the Taliban quickly seizing the capital Kabul where thousands of civilians desperate to flee thronged the airport.
It came after U.S. President Joe Biden’s controversial decision to remove troops from Afghanistan after Donald Trump’s concessions to withdraw U.S. forces as part of a conditional agreement between the U.S. and Taliban leaders.
Mr Green says: “Despite the news coming out of Afghanistan, there is not likely to be an immediate shockwave rippling through global stock markets.
“Investors are currently more focused on other key factors that could impact returns.
“These include the fallout from the delta variant of Covid, concerns about peak earnings, disappointing Chinese economic data, slowing growth, and this week’s publication of the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting which could hint at a shift in policy.”
He continues: “However, the major geopolitical turbulence triggered by the Taliban’s effective power grab will certainly be added to investors’ growing list of global issues to track as it could have longer-term implications for markets.
“There will be questions regarding stability in the Middle East, the global influence of the U.S. and the mounting pressure on Biden, the prospect of increasing international terror threats, and the growing dominance of China’s renminbi.”
Early in trading in Asia, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.4%. European markets are set to open lower on Tuesday as investors monitor the Afghanistan crisis. On Wall Street, U.S. stock index futures were slightly lower after the Dow and S&P 500 on Monday closed at record highs.
The deVere CEO concludes: “Investors will be monitoring the Afghanistan situation carefully as it could very likely have implications down the road.
“As ever, investors’ best tool to avoid risk and seize opportunities is to remain invested and ensure proper diversification across asset class, sectors, currencies and regions.”
Snake Island Port Makes History with $1 Billion Private Investment in Concession Agreement
Snake Island Port has achieved a significant milestone by securing a momentous $1 billion private investment through a historic concession agreement.
This landmark agreement is set to transform the port’s operations and propel it to new heights.
The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Nigerdock, Maher Jarmakani, expressed his elation over this remarkable achievement. Jarmakani affirmed that the 45-year concession agreement with the Federal Government would not only allow for an expanded operational scope but also attract substantial private investment, amounting to an impressive $1 billion.
Jarmakani conveyed his heartfelt gratitude to the Federal Government for its unwavering support in enabling the expansion of Nigerdock’s operations. This collaboration serves as a testament to the government’s commitment to fostering partnerships that drive economic growth, job creation, and the development of critical infrastructure.
Nigerdock, a multipurpose port facility situated within the Snake Island Integrated Free Zone (SIIFZ), occupies an expansive 85-hectare area and encompasses three terminals. The facility specializes in ship repair, logistics, and free zone solutions. Recognizing the potential of Snake Island Port, the Presidency awarded Nigerdock free zone and port status back in 2005, leading to the establishment of the Snake Island Integrated Free Zone. In subsequent years, the Nigerian Ports Authority and Nigeria Customs Service granted approvals for direct shipping and cargo handling operations, respectively.
With the new concession agreement, Snake Island Port is poised for transformative growth. The extended operational scope and influx of private investment are expected to attract both domestic and international businesses, stimulating economic development in the region. This milestone aligns perfectly with Nigerdock’s long-term vision of becoming a globally recognized maritime operator, further enhancing its contribution to Nigeria’s economy.
The approval of the concession agreement not only emphasizes the Nigerian government’s commitment to public-private partnerships but also underscores its dedication to driving infrastructure projects nationwide. The collaboration between Nigerdock and the Federal Government sets a positive precedent, fostering an environment conducive to investment and economic prosperity.
Nigerian Banks and Telcos Struggle to Resolve N100bn USSD Debt
Nigerian banks and telecommunication firms are currently struggling to resolve a N100bn Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) debt.
This debt has been accumulating over the past few years due to a disagreement over non-remittance of USSD fees.
USSD services have been essential to financial inclusion in Nigeria, with a large number of Nigerians using it to access banking services through their mobile phones. However, despite its significance, banks and telcos have been at loggerheads since 2019 over the non-remittance of USSD fees.
The accumulated USSD debt was initially estimated at N32bn in 2019, and by November 2022, it had risen to N80bn. Unfortunately, it has now increased to over N100bn as banks and telcos are yet to come to a resolution.
According to Gbolahan Awonuga, the Head of Operations of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria, banks and telcos are still locked in discussions with no way forward. He said, “the debt has continued to increase, and it is now over N100bn.”
A source in one of the telecoms companies also disclosed that banks owe one of the telcos about N100bn. This amount, the source said, does not cut it as it could be estimated at N150bn, including debts owed to other telcos.
However, the recovery process has been frustrating for telcos as banks refuse to acknowledge the debt, and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) supports them. The source said, “no progress has been made simply because the banks have dug in their heels and are refusing to accept that they owe us money, not to talk of repaying.”
This issue threatens financial inclusion as many underserved Nigerians rely on USSD services to access banking services. It is essential that banks and telcos resolve this issue quickly to ensure that businesses and individuals can continue to carry out transactions seamlessly.
Foreign Investment in Nigerian Exchange Declines by Over 50% in One Month
The Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) has reported a significant decrease in foreign investment in its markets.
According to the Domestic & Foreign Portfolio Investment Report for March 2023, transactions conducted by foreign investors fell by 53.16% from N19.62bn in February to N9.19bn in March, equivalent to about $42.51m to $19.94m respectively.
The decline marks a considerable setback in the efforts to attract foreign investment into Nigeria.
The report shows that total transactions conducted by domestic investors also dropped by 19.06% from N169.29bn in February to N137.03bn in March.
However, the decline in foreign investment was much more significant, with the total value of transactions by foreign investors decreasing by 88% compared to transactions by domestic investors, which stood at 96% in March 2023.
The decrease in foreign investment is attributed to several factors, including the uncertainty around exchange rates and the unfavorable business environment.
Prof Olawale Ajai of the Lagos Business School pointed out that insecurity and the opaque Naira foreign exchange regime have made Nigeria unattractive to foreign investors.
He also noted that low national productivity, infrastructure deficits, and poor human capital development have contributed to the decline.
The Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Lamido Yuguda, also highlighted the forex challenges facing foreign investors, citing the delay in accessing foreign exchange for the repatriation of their dividends or capital.
He added that the reduced proportion of foreign investors in the Nigerian capital market was not permanent, and he expected the foreign exchange situation in Nigeria to improve substantially.
The decline in foreign investment is a cause for concern for the Nigerian economy, which is heavily reliant on foreign investment to drive growth.
The government must take urgent steps to address the challenges facing foreign investors and create a more favorable business environment to attract more foreign investment.
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