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Government Begins Disbursement of N200bn Support Fund to Manufacturers and Businesses

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The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment has initiated the disbursement of the long-awaited N200 billion Presidential Conditional Grant Scheme.

This is the beginning of a vital phase in the government’s strategy to provide financial assistance to manufacturers and businesses across Nigeria.

The scheme, which is being administered through the Bank of Industry (BOI), has been divided into three categories of funding, totaling N200 billion.

The disbursement process comes after an exhaustive selection process and verification of applicants to ensure transparency and accountability in the allocation of funds.

Doris Aniete, spokesperson for the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, announced the progress in a statement posted on the trade minister’s official X (formerly Twitter) handle.

Aniete highlighted that verified beneficiaries have already started receiving their grants, signaling the beginning of the phased disbursement strategy.

“We are pleased to inform you that the disbursement process for the Presidential Conditional Grant Programme has officially commenced. Some beneficiaries have already received their grants, marking the beginning of our phased disbursement strategy,” stated Aniete.

She further disclosed that by Friday, April 19, a substantial number of verified applicants are set to receive significant disbursements.

However, Aniete emphasized that disbursements are ongoing, and not all applicants will receive their grants immediately, assuring that all verified applicants will eventually receive their grants in subsequent phases.

The initiation of the disbursement process comes after more than eight months since President Bola Tinubu announced the grant for manufacturers and small businesses.

The scheme aims to mitigate the adverse effects of recent economic reforms and foster sustainable economic growth by empowering businesses with financial support.

President Tinubu had outlined the government’s commitment to strengthening the manufacturing sector and creating job opportunities through the disbursement of N200 billion over a specified period.

The funding is intended to provide credit to 75 enterprises, each able to access up to N1 billion at a low-interest rate of 9% per annum.

However, the implementation of the programme has faced challenges, including delays and criticisms regarding the registration process.

Femi Egbesola, President of the Association of Small Business Owners, expressed concerns over the slow pace of data collation and suggested that genuine businesses were being discouraged from accessing the loans.

Despite the hurdles, the commencement of the disbursement process signifies a significant step forward in the government’s efforts to provide vital support to manufacturers and businesses, potentially revitalizing economic activities and driving growth across various sectors.

As beneficiaries begin to receive their grants, the impact of this initiative on the nation’s economic landscape is eagerly anticipated.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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MEMAN Initiates Collaborative Effort to Curb Tanker Explosions

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The Major Energies Marketers Association of Nigeria (MEMAN) has launched a collaborative initiative to mitigate these incidents.

This effort was announced by MEMAN’s Executive Secretary, Mr. Clement Isong, during a stakeholders meeting held in Lagos on Wednesday.

The emergency meeting aimed to address the increasing frequency of truck accidents and explosions, bringing together key industry stakeholders including the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMA), the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), and MEMAN’s Health, Safety, Security, Environment, and Quality (HSSEQ) Committee.

Regulators represented at the meeting included the Lagos Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA).

“This meeting is the first in a series of urgent actions aimed at addressing the recent spike in truck accidents and explosions,” Isong stated.

“The analysis of several petroleum tanker-related crashes over the past four months revealed several root causes including bad roads, inexperienced drivers in oversized trucks, and a lack of truck maintenance.”

Isong emphasized that the initiative focuses on fostering collaboration among regulators, operators, and law enforcement agencies to implement preventive measures. Key proposed measures include driver training, truck maintenance, fleet renewal, and the integration of technology in operations.

To ensure the effectiveness of these measures, MEMAN highlighted the need for mandatory annual training for all drivers at FRSC-approved centers.

Also, marketers are urged to reject underage or untrained drivers and insist on biannual comprehensive integrity evaluations for all trucks transporting petroleum products.

“Marketers must phase out old trucks and replace them with new ones equipped with modern safety features such as anti-lock braking systems (ABS), anti-rollover, anti-spill, anti-skid, speed limiters, onboard computers, and cameras. Trucks over 15 years old should be repurposed for non-hazardous cargo,” Isong added.

The stakeholders also stressed the importance of technology integration. This includes fitting trucks with onboard computers and tracking devices, and establishing control centers to monitor truck movements and enforce journey management procedures.

During the meeting, Assistant Director/Head of DSSRI Southwest Zone at NMDPRA, Mr. Ibrahim Dimowo, noted that regulatory revisions would focus on updates and enforcement of truck specifications and loading limits.

He highlighted the need for implementing new technologies for incident detection and monitoring.

The Lagos Corps Commander of the FRSC, Patrick Davou, emphasized the necessity for strict enforcement of pre- and post-safe-to-load integrity inspections on trucks.

He also called for proper classification of driver’s licenses for transporting hydrocarbons and collaboration on the 5-pillar road safety initiatives.

The meeting concluded with a call for improved road infrastructure and a strong warning against the dangers of fuel scooping during truck accidents.

MEMAN’s proactive measures, supported by comprehensive regulatory and operational changes, aim to significantly reduce the incidence of catastrophic tanker explosions in Nigeria.

Recent tragic incidents underscore the urgency of this initiative. In April, a tanker explosion in Rivers State claimed five lives, including a pregnant woman, and razed 120 vehicles.

Another explosion in Delta State in May resulted in eight deaths, while a gas truck explosion in Abeokuta also led to fatalities.

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Shell Nigeria Boosts NDDC Funds with $142.5M Remittance in 2023

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Shell Petroleum Development of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNEPCo) significantly increased their contributions to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in 2023 as they remitted a total of $142.5 million.

This amount was an increase from the $79.77 million contributed in 2022.

In a statement released by Shell Nigeria’s Manager of Media Communications and NGO Relations, Bamidele Odugbesan, SPDC paid $112.5 million while SNEPCo remitted $30 million.

These contributions, made on behalf of Shell and its partners—including the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC), TotalEnergies EP Nigeria Limited, NAOC, and Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited—are statutory payments intended to support the NDDC’s developmental initiatives in the Niger Delta region.

Igo Weli, SPDC’s Director and Country Head of Corporate Relations, said “Our support for the NDDC aligns with our broader aspirations for regional development. This includes a wide array of social investments in health and education, which are crucial for the sustainable development of the communities where we operate.”

Shell Nigeria’s contributions are part of a long-standing tradition of community development programs that the company has supported since the 1960s.

These programs have had a significant impact on Nigerian society, with initiatives such as the Health-in-Motion programme providing free medical services to over one million individuals since its inception.

Also, Shell’s education support initiatives have awarded more than 3,450 secondary school grants, 3,772 university grants, and 1,062 cradle-to-career scholarship grants since 2016.

The company also highlighted the Shell LiveWIRE entrepreneurship programme, which has supported 73 businesses through training and mentorship, resulting in 97 new employment opportunities for Nigerians.

Odugbesan stated Shell’s ongoing commitment to its social responsibilities.

He said, “With the continuous support of our partners, we will persist in fulfilling our obligations to communities through statutory payments and various projects executed in collaboration with stakeholders”.

This increase in contributions comes on the heels of Shell Nigeria’s announcement of paying $1.09 billion in corporate taxes and royalties to the Nigerian government in 2023.

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Federal Government Unveils Plan to Boost Nigerian Automotive Industry with Local Manufacturing Drive

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In a bid to revitalize the Nigerian automotive industry and reduce dependency on imported auto parts, the Federal Government has unveiled an ambitious plan to kickstart local manufacturing initiatives.

Spearheaded by the Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, Doris Aniete, the initiative aims to stimulate growth in the sector by increasing the supply of locally produced components to the market by 40%.

Announcing the policy during a ministerial sectoral briefing to commemorate President Bola Tinubu’s first year in office, Aniete emphasized the importance of collaboration among manufacturers, dealers, regulatory bodies, and other stakeholders in the automotive ecosystem.

This collaborative effort, she stated, would be instrumental in addressing challenges, streamlining processes, and driving innovation within the industry.

For years, Nigeria has heavily relied on imports to meet the demand for vehicles and spare parts, with a significant portion of automotive components imported from abroad.

According to Luqman Mamudu, Chairman of the West Africa Automotive Show, Nigeria alone accounts for about 78.8% of automotive components imported to the region, amounting to approximately $4.2 billion annually out of the $6.2 billion spent by the region.

The newly developed framework aims to change this narrative by prioritizing the local production of critical automotive components such as tyres, batteries, brake pads, and more.

By fostering collaboration between stakeholders and incentivizing local manufacturing, the government seeks to create a more sustainable and self-reliant automotive industry.

Aniete highlighted the potential economic benefits of the initiative, citing significant foreign exchange savings through domestic production of parts.

She stressed that by reducing the need for imports, the country could conserve foreign exchange reserves and bolster its currency while simultaneously stimulating job creation and economic growth.

Furthermore, the government has attracted substantial investment capital amounting to $3.5 billion to develop a resurgence plan for the Nigerian Cotton, Textile, and Apparel Industry.

This initiative, undertaken in partnership with development partners and private sector players, aims to unlock the full potential of the sector and create additional opportunities for growth and employment.

In addition to these initiatives, the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment disclosed plans to host the Lagos International Trade Fair, signaling a renewed commitment to reclaiming Nigeria’s position as a regional market powerhouse.

The revival of this trade fair, last hosted 14 years ago, is expected to amplify market linkages for manufacturers, suppliers, farmers, and traders nationwide, catalyzing economic activities across various sectors.

As transformative reforms unfold in the Nigerian automotive and textile industries, the government remains focused on unlocking equitable opportunities for farmers, miners, and entrepreneurs.

With stringent regulations and collaborative frameworks in place, Nigeria is poised to chart a new course towards sustainable economic development and self-reliance in key sectors.

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