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Intra-Regional Trade Potential a Key Focus in New Report

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Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers

A new focus report, produced by Oxford Business Group (OBG) in partnership with the African Economic Zones Organisation (AEZO), shines a spotlight on the continent’s rapidly developing industrial sector, which is poised to become a key driver of broader economic growth as regional integration increases.

Titled ”Economic Zones in Africa – Focus Report”, the report was launched at the AEZO’s 6th Annual Meeting II, which took place on November 25 at the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat office in Ghana, with participants also able to attend remotely. The meeting was held under the banner “Connecting African Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to Global Value Chains at the era of the AfCFTA” and explored a range of topical issues relating to SEZs, from their potential to boost trade to the impact of Covid-19 on the continent’s supply chains.

The focus report examines the wealth of benefits that the AfCFTA is expected to deliver to both Africa’s economic zones and the businesses located in them, which range from greater market access to a reduction in trade barriers and lower production costs.

The disruption that the pandemic brought to supply chains and the opportunities emerging from the health crisis for businesses to become part of nascent regional value chains across a more closely connected continent are a key focus.

The report also charts the digital transformation taking place in many of Africa’s economic zones, as businesses make the move away from traditional segments to high-tech processes and digital services, adding value to their offerings in the process.

In addition, it provides in-depth analysis of the drive evident among many SEZs to put environmental, social and governance principles and sustainable business practices at the heart of their strategies, at a time when ethical investment and alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals are high on the global agenda.

The report includes in-depth case studies and viewpoints by representatives from key industry players namely: Tanger Med; Polaris Parks; Lagos Free Zones; Ghana Free Zones Authority; Misurata Free Zone; and Sebore Farms.

It also includes a contribution from Ahmed Bennis, Secretary General, AEZO, in which he highlights the role that SEZs are playing in the continent’s industrial transformation and the importance of supporting their development.

“Economic zones can play a game-changing role in Africa’s diversification and inclusion by providing end-to-end solutions and services that support industrial upgrades and increase countries’ attractiveness for investment,” he said. “With the implementation of AfCFTA and the post-Covid-19 recovery that the world is beginning to experience, we believe that real investment opportunities exist in Africa at this moment, which can translate into job creation and social and economic development. Africa has resources that need to be developed and economic zones can play a key role in this.”

Bernardo Bruzzone, OBG’s Regional Editor for Africa, added that while African economic zones had experienced production problems during the pandemic due to global supply chain disruptions, ongoing remedial action, including new infrastructure and human capital development, would help provide resilience against future external shocks.

“Africa’s real GDP growth is forecast to reach 3.4% in 2021, with an increase in intra-regional trade and improved connectivity among the facilitators of economic recovery,” Bruzzone said. “Looking ahead, we see economic zones as having a key role to play in helping the AfCFTA achieve its potential through the development of new strategies that will lead to a more diverse, higher-value range of exports.”

The study forms part of a series of tailored reports that OBG is currently producing with its partners, alongside other highly relevant, go-to research tools, including a range of country-specific Growth and Recovery Outlook articles and interviews.

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Economy

NNPC Identifies Reasons for Nationwide Fuel Crisis, Takes Steps to Tackle Menace

NNPC revealed that another reason for the crisis was that some corrupt marketers were smuggling petrol to neighbouring countries

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Petrol - Investors King

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) has identified shortage in the evacuation and distribution of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) popularly called petrol to marketers as one of the reasons for fuel crisis in Nigeria.

Investors King had reported that long queues had been recorded at petrol stations across the country in the last few months as retailers sell at exorbitant rates ranging between N350 and N600 per litre.

The crisis in the petroleum industry had also forced commercial transporters to jack up their fares as Nigerians, especially commuters, groan owing to the negative effects the crisis has brought on prices of food and other items.

Also, NNPC revealed that another reason for the crisis was that some corrupt marketers were smuggling petrol to neighbouring countries and poaching investors to these countries to sell the smuggled commodity to them.

These were disclosed by the Group Chief Executive Officer, NNPC, Mele Kyari, while
explaining the fuel supply data for the country since January 2022, during a meeting with stakeholders in Abuja.

He announced that the queues being witnessed at filing stations across the nation would soon clear as the petroleum company has released about 67 million litres of PMS to marketers.

Explaining further how the fuel crisis came to being, Kyari said the moment NNPC goes down below 60 million litres of evacuation consistently for more than three days, there would be a crisis in the sector.

For him, there may be no valid consumption figure, but the evacuation figure is always known, stressing that anytime the evacuation figure goes below 60 million litres daily, crisis would be inevitable across the country.

He recalled when the company recorded the contaminated fuel in early 2022, saying that evacuation came down to 56 million litres on average and that was what caused a crisis then.

Normalcy was then returned, according to the Group Chief Executive Officer when the company ramps up by adding volumes to the market to fill the gaps.

Ever since then, Kyari said NNPC had done everything possible to keep the supply or evacuation above 60 million litres consistently, as he argued that there was no shortage of fuel going into the market, rather the products might be in the wrong destination.

Speaking on the smuggling of the product to neighbouring countries, Kyari said NNPC officials and oil marketers were responsible.

Kyari said the company has evidence that fuel was being smuggled out of Nigeria in marine containers and that some of its customers take investors to other countries.

While promising to investigate the illegal acts and get to the root of it, Kyari assured that appropriate government security agencies would deal with it.

He said there is cross-border smuggling, either in form of round-tripping or whatever name m, stressing that fuel leaves Nigeria through smugglers and thus creating scarcity in the country.

Meanwhile, with the release of the fresh 67 million litres to oil marketers to circulate across the nation, it was observed that long queues that had been the hallmark of most filing stations have been phasing out, even though the price is yet to reduce.

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IMF Releases Fresh Economic Performance Ratings of Nigeria, Others

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IMF global - Investors King

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has released its World Economic Outlook Update (January 2023) report where it gave detailed economic performance ratings of some countries and regions of the world.

In the report, IMF projected that Nigeria’s economic growth would reduce from 3.2 per cent in 2023 to 2.9 per cent in 2024.

However, owing to measures taken by the Federal Government to tackle oil pipelines’ vandalism and theft, the financial organisation disclosed that Nigeria’s economic outlook is better as it would grow from 3.0 per cent in 2022 to 3.2 per cent in 2023.

IMF had Also, this year’s 3.2 per cent growth projection is an upgrade from the lender’s previous 3.0 growth projection for the year in its October outlook report.

Investors King had reported that Nigeria started experiencing shortfall in its crude oil production when oil thieves and pipeline vandals started causing havoc at the nation’s oil regions. It was so bad that the production was as low as 0.937mbpd in September 2022.

But, in December, last year, the production increased to 1.235 million barrels per day.

Also predicting that the Nigeria’s economic growth would jump to three per cent this year, the United Nations said a strong commodities trade and active consumer goods and services markets would make the projection possible.

According to the international organisation, high inflation and epileptic power supply were affecting economic development in Nigeria.

Similarly, the World Bank postulated that the Nigerian economy would grow at 2.9 per cent this year, adding that the poor economic growth of 2.9 per cent in 2023 was barely above population growth.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has expressed optimism that it would grow the economy as high as 3.5 per cent this year, and that its efforts at tackling insecurity in oil production was yielding desired results.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, while speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, said the nation had to moderate its year projections to reflect the decline it suffered in 2022.

She said increase in revenue from the non-oil sector and and oil production boost would assist the country in meeting its 1.6 million barrels per day target in 2023.

The minister said the nation could achieve it and that the nation is currently producing between 1.25 million and 1.3 million per day

Making further projections, IMF said growth across sub-Saharan Africa would moderate at 3.8 per cent in 2023 amid prolonged fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The global money lender noted that power shortage is expected to reduce South Africa’s growth economy from 2.6 per cent in 2022 to 1.2 per cent in 2023.

The Washington-based lender explained that growth in the global economy would slow down in 2023 before regaining in 2024.

It attributed this to the global fight against inflation and Russia’s war in Ukraine.

IMF further noted that growth would slow from 3.4 per cent in 2022 to 2.9 per cent in 2023, then rebound to 3.1 per cent in 2024.

The money lender compared it’s January forecast to that of October saying economic growth proved resilient in the third quarter of 2022 with strong labour markets, robust household consumption and business investment, and better-than-expected adaptation to the energy crisis in Europe.

 

 

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Buhari Gets Lawmakers’ Nod to Borrow N1tn From CBN’s WMAs

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President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has obtained the approval of the House of Representatives, to access a fresh N1 trillion loan from the Ways and Means Advances (WMAs) by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The Ways and Means Advances where the federal government can access funds is a loan facility by the CBN to finance the government during temporary budget shortfalls subject to limits imposed by law.

The President had in a letter he sent to the Senate and House of Representatives in December last year, requested the approvals of the National Assembly to its restructuring of N1tn WMAs, and another N22,719,703,774,306.90 loan from the CBN.

Upon reception of the letter, the duo of President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan; and Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, read out Buhari’s request to members of their respective chambers and the lawmakers had debated it.

President Buhari had titled the letter, ‘Restructuring of Ways and Means Advances,’ and explained that WMAs by the apex bank to the Federal Government is a funding option that caters for short-term or emergency finance to fund delayed government anticipated cash receipt of fiscal deficit.

Buhari had said that the WMAs balance as of December 19, 2022, is N23,719,703,774,306.90, adding that the N23.7tn loan would be repaid in forty years and that the moratorium on principal repayment is three years while the pricing interest rate is 9 per cent.

However, the House of Representatives during plenary on Tuesday okayed N1tn WMAs after receiving the recommendation by the Joint Committees on Finance; Banking and Currency; and Aids, Loans and Debts Management.

Because the report presented to the House by the Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Finance, Musa Abdullahi, sought further explanation and convictions from the presidency on N22.7tn loan, the lawmakers rejected Buhari’s request for N22,719,703,774,306.90.

The committee had said it approved the N1tn because of its observations and the exigencies of the Federal Government current fiscal situation,

Similarly, the Senate opposed to Buhari’s request for the loan despite earlier assurances of the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, to Buhari that the Senators would consider it.

Investors King had reported how CBN noted that the Federal Government’s excessive borrowing from the bank’s Ways and Means Advances (W&M) window could frustrate its monetary policy.

The apex bank had said that overdrafts due to the increasing reliance on the WMAs overdrafts would negatively impact its monetary policy.

Notwithstanding, the Federal Government had been running to the WMAs for any sign of budget deficit.

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