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Russia-Ukraine Crisis May Disrupt Resuscitation of Ajaokuta Steel Company

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Steel Manufacture At Evraz Plc West-Siberian Metallurgical Plant

The raging Russia-Ukraine crisis has been described as a threat to the resuscitation of the Ajaokuta Steel Company which is already at 98 percent completion.

Investors King gathered that the Ajaokuta Steel company located in Kogi State is the largest steel mill in Nigeria, its coke oven and byproducts plant are larger than all the refineries in Nigeria put together. However, it was abandoned after several years. 

In view of this, President Muhammadu Buhari signed an agreement with the Russian government on revamping the steel company. 

Dr Muda Yusuf, Chief Executive Officer, Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprises (CPPE), in Lagos pointed out that Nigeria’s bilateral agreement with Russia may be stalled due to the sanctions against Russia.

Yusuf said the project was making great progress until the advent of the pandemic and while the world’s economy was recuperating, the Russia-Ukraine conflict set in.

He, however, added that global trade will be badly affected by the crisis as Russia owns major investments across the world and is a major player in the world’s economy.  

Yusuf noted that prices of iron and steel will rise in the global market as the two contending countries are major exporters.

“There are financial transactions involving Russian investors. There are issues of trade especially in the area of iron and steel for which both Ukraine and Russia are reputed. The iron and steel market are also going to be affected by this, we are therefore likely to see a spike in prices of iron and steel products globally,” he said.

The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr. Olamilekan Adegbite, had earlier stated that the Ajaokuta steel mill project’s business case had been accepted and agreed upon by the Russian government.

Adegbite said President Buhari of Nigeria and President Vladimir Putin of Russia met and made a bilateral agreement on government-to-government cooperation to revitalise the Ajaokuta steel mill because the Russians built Ajoakuta when they were the Soviet Union in collaboration with the Ukrainians. 

“That is why we have gone back to them, the whole essence is for them to come here, access the plant and access the job to be done that is what we call a technical audit,” he said.

On the project funding, he said, “the Russian export centre, which is a Russian sort of Nexim bank, would provide $450million for the project and Afrexim bank will provide $1billion, which is a total of $1.45billion.”

The minister stated that after the audit of the project, the Russian technical experts will give the exact cost of the rehabilitation of Ajaokuta steel mill and the National Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO)

He hinted that the two projects were linked together. The two are tied together and once this is done, there will be negotiations and at the end of the day, a sum will be agreed and the contract formed and that is the basis that we will proceed,” he said.

Other implications of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on Nigeria’s economy were listed as rising in energy prices (diesel, aviation fuel, kerosene and gas), which would affect petrol import and increase subsidy bills. Also, fiscal operations of government and federal accounts will be hit.

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Economy

Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo Seeks Collaboration With Vietnam on Agriculture and Technology

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yemi-osinbajo

Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo has sought collaboration with Vietnam in the areas of agriculture and technology. The vice president spoke in Vietnam at a bilateral meeting on Monday. 

During the meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart, Võ Thị Ánh Xuân, Osinbajo acknowledged both countries’ market potentials in the digital economy, telecommunications, and agriculture. 

Speaking at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo noted that telecommunication penetration in Nigeria is one of the deepest in any developing country, stating that about 120 million Nigerians now use one telecom service or the other.

Calling for collaboration on digital economy, Osinbajo said “We have close to 120 million of our citizens who have put to use telecom equipment or devices. And also, broadband connectivity is vastly improved. We hope that by 2025, we will have broadband connectivity for all of our over 200 million people”. 

On the call for collaboration in the area of agriculture, the vice president noted that cashew production is an important area in which both counties can partner. 

He said ” Given the food crisis that the world faces today, and is likely to continue facing even in the coming years, I like to say that the way forward is for our countries to collaborate. For instance, establishing cashew processing plants in Nigeria”. 

Investors King understands that Vietnam is the world’s second-largest cashew processor with an annual processing capacity of 1.2 million tons representing up to 40 percent of the world’s total capacity. 

Speaking at the event, the Vietnamese Vice President commended Nigeria’s leadership role in the ECOWAS sub-region and Africa generally, especially in the peaceful resolution of disputes. 

She also commended Nigeria’s handling of the Covid 19 pandemic while reposing confidence in Nigeria’s ability to resolve challenges confronting the African continent and the West African region in particular. 

Conclusively, she added that her country would continue to work with Africa to meet its aspirations in agriculture, clean energy and digital penetration.

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Economy

Togo, Benin, and Niger Republic Owe Nigeria N4.1 Trillion in Electricity Debts

Nigeria currently supplies electricity to the Republic of Benin, Togo, and Niger through the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading, NBET Plc

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Electricity - Investors King

The House of Representatives on Public Account has disclosed that Nigeria’s neighbouring countries, Togo, Benin, and Niger Republic owe the country about N4.1 trillion in electricity bills.

The revelation was contained in a letter sent by the committee to the Managing Director of Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading, NBET Plc, Dr. Nnaemeka Eweluka.

According to the letter which was signed by the Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Oluwole Oke, the Managing Director of NBET is expected to appear alongside Dr. Marilyn Amobi, who served as MD/CEO from 2016 to 2020. 

The house committee has accused the former MD, Amobi of non-rendition of the Audited Accounts for the years 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Investors King understands that Nigeria currently supplies electricity to the Republic of Benin, Togo, and Niger through the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading, NBET Plc. About 6 percent of the electricity generated in the country is sold to the neighboring countries. 

Meanwhile, according to the managing director of NBET, the federal government is working on structures that will enhance power distribution in the country, stating that most of the power-generating companies are currently located in the southern part of the country. 

“Most of the power generation companies are located within the south-south and south-west largely because of gas with one in the south-east, of course, we have the hydros in Niger state,” he said.

The MD added that Nigeria could generate up to a capacity of about 14,000 megawatts. He however noted that the distribution capacity is only between 4,000 to 5,000 megawatts per day.

Eweluka nonetheless sounded a note of hope, making references to the intervention projects that are currently ongoing such as the partnership with Simens.

“To address this gap between what is available and what the system can currently carry; there are a number of intervention projects that the government is currently pursuing, that include the presidential power initiatives in partnership with Siemens,” he concluded.

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No Plan to Increase Fuel Price; Says FG

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NNPC - Investors King

The Federal Government has stated that it has no plan to increase fuel price during the yuletide period.

This assurance is coming amid the nationwide fuel scarcity which has pushed the price of petrol above N250 in many retail stations.

Investors King learnt that fuel is being held for N250 per litre in Abuja and several other cities across the country while black marketers are charging between N400 and N450 per litre.

The scarcity and the high price of fuel are however becoming unbearable for many Nigerians, especially those who have reasons to embark on business travel for the December festivals.

According to the National Public Relations Officer, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Chief Ukadike Chinedu, most of the association members, who owned the bulk of the filling stations across the country, were now subjected to purchasing PMS at about N220/litre, which was why many outlets currently dispensed at about N250/litre and above.

He noted that the cost of the commodity has been on the rise due to its unavailability and other concerns in the sector. 

He added that the price of fuel could be sold from N350/litre to N400/litre before the end of the year. 

Meanwhile, a number of senior officials at the NNPC had stated that the subsidy was becoming too burdensome on the national oil company, as this was another reason for the scarcity of PMS.

According to a source who is familiar with the development as reported by Punch News, “How can we continue to import 60 million litres of petrol daily and keep subsidising it, while millions of litres are either diverted or cannot be accounted for? The burden is too much, as you rightly captured in that story”. 

Investors King understands that NNPC is the sole importer of petroleum into the country and it pays billions of naira every month to subsidise the product to N147 per litre. 

Reuters News reported that in August 2022, NNPC paid more than $1 billion as fuel subsidy while the federal government earmarked N3.6 trillion as fuel subsidy in the 2023 budget proposal. 

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