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FirstBank Partners NBCC to Drive MSME Growth

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First Bank of Nigeria Limited has partnered the Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce to jointly host a Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises workshop to focus on the fundamentals of building a sustainable business.

According to a statement by the lender on Sunday, the two-day workshop holding this week in Lagos is designed to boost participants’ capacity and create value for the MSMEs, given the pivotal role they play in modern economies in the areas of job creation and significant contribution to the Gross Domestic Product.

The lender said it had, over the years, emphasised the fact that Africa’s economies could not move forward if MSMEs and budding entrepreneurs were continuously starved of the right knowledge and skills set to grow their businesses.

The statement read in part, “As a nation builder, the bank is intensifying support for the MSMEs through a number of initiatives geared towards raising their level of competitiveness in a challenging business environment.

“Key areas of discourse at the workshop will include financial windows available to the MSMEs and how to access them, strategy development and implementation for small businesses, sustainability opportunities for small businesses, and financial management for growing businesses, among others.”

The lender said it would also provide facilitators from senior members of staff proficient in the business of the MSMEs to proffer practical solutions on business growth and development.

The Deputy Managing Director, FirstBank, Mr. Gbenga Shobo, was quoted as saying, “The SME market segment is one of FirstBank’s strategic platforms to stimulate economic development and we would continue to support activities geared towards the sustainable development of the segment.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Economy

GE and Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) Successfully Restore up to 360MW in Nigeria Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

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Power GE safely completed service interventions on three GE 9E gas turbines at the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) power plants in Calabar and Sapele, Nigeria; With compressive safety measures due to COVID-19 in place, GE and NDPHC quickly ensured both employee safety and on-time project execution; Outages were executed on time and the restored power will enable NDPHC to provide the equivalent electricity needed to power up to 2 million Nigerian homes.

GE (NYSE: GE) today announced the successful rehabilitation of three 9E.03 gas turbines, at three Niger Delta Power Holding Company’s (NDPHC) Power Plants in Calabar and Sapele, Nigeria. These operations reduced the risk of unplanned downtime of its power generation equipment, enabling the plants to reliably secure and restore the supply of up to 360 megawatts (MW) of electricity to the national grid, the equivalent electricity needed to power approximately two million Nigerian homes. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, GE and NDPHC worked together to swiftly implement safety procedures to ensure a safe and on-time execution.

“Being Nigeria’s largest electricity generating company, with a total installed capacity of 4.0 gigawatts (GW), representing about 35% of Nigeria’s generating capacity, we are committed to strengthening Nigeria’s power sector, despite the unexpected logistical challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Chiedu Ugbo, Managing Director, NDPHC. “GE’s efficiency to mobilize local teams on-site with the required technical skills and expertise, as well as GE’s global supply chain scale was crucial to ensure the timely and safe completion of the outages at the sites and help us achieve our goal.”

The outages involved stage three bucket changeouts on three 9E gas turbines as well as additional combustion inspections. Engineers from GE and FieldCore, the field services execution company owned by GE, worked together and in close collaboration with NDPHC to implement additional safety measures and reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19, including frequent disinfections at the site, physical distancing, standard passive and active temperature screenings for personnel, and the use of personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves.

“We are committed to supporting power plant operators like NDPHC to be able to provide reliable power with exceptional support and services from GE throughout these uncertain times, while ensuring and maintaining the health and safety of our employees and suppliers.” said Elisee Sezan, CEO for GE’s Gas Power business in Sub-Saharan Africa. “The successful rehabilitation of the power generations assets at Calabar and Sapele plants will help increase the 9E gas turbines’ efficiency, while lowering emissions and providing essential power for industrialization, healthcare facilities, homes, schools and businesses.”

This year, GE’s 9E gas turbine fleet celebrates 40 years of operations globally. The 9E is a robust, proven platform that delivers high availability, reliability, and durability while lowering the overall cost-per-kilowatt. It has a large installed base of over 650 units in the world located primarily in Asia, China, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

GE has been collaborating with energy stakeholders to deploy innovative technologies tailored to respond to the needs in the region since the 1950s with reliable baseload and flexible emergency power. In 2018, the company celebrated its 100th power plant in Sub-Saharan Africa and today, up to 17 GW of gas power generation on the grid runs on GE gas turbines. GE delivers across the entire energy ecosystem from generation to transmission and distribution and throughout Nigeria, GE-built technologies are supported by local service and maintenance teams from the company to ensure access to reliable and sustainable energy.

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Power Generation Hits 4,312MW, 16 Plants Record Increase

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Electricity generation in the country rose by 979.2 megawatts on Sunday to 4,312.1MW as 16 power plants saw an increase in their output.

The number of idle plants dropped to nine as of 6am on Sunday from 11 at 6am on Saturday, when power generation stood at 3,332.9MW, according to data obtained from the Nigerian Electricity System Operator.

The plants that did not generate any megawatts of electricity as of 6am on Sunday were Afam IV & V, Sapele II, Alaoji, Olorunsogo II, Ihovbor, Gbarain, Ibom Power, AES and ASCO.

Sapele I and Omotosho II, which were idle as of 6am on Saturday, generated 36MW and 26.1MW on Sunday.

The nation generates most of its electricity from gas-fired power plants, while output from hydropower plants makes up about 30 per cent of the total generation.

Generation from Kainji, Jebba and Shiroro hydro plants, which stood at 182MW, 289MW and 412MW, respectively as of 6am on Saturday, rose to 305MW, 300MW and 450MW on Sunday.

Electricity generation from Egbin, the nation’s biggest power station, increased to 454MW as of 6am on Sunday from 304MW on Saturday.

Other plants that recorded increases in their outputs on Sunday were Delta (gas), Omotosho I, Olorunsogo I, Geregu II, Odukpani, Okpai, Azura-Edo, Afam VI, Omoku and Rivers IPP.

The amount of power generation capacity left unused fell to 3,005.9MW as of 6am on Sunday from 3,558.9MW on Saturday.

Gas constraints and low load demand by the distribution companies hampered the generation of 2,019.7MW and 986.2MW respectively on Sunday, according to NESO.

The system operator put the national peak demand forecast at 28,290MW; installed generation capacity at 12,910.40MW; available capacity at 7,652.60MW; transmission wheeling capacity at 8,100MW; and peak generation at 5,420.30MW.

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32 States Not Remitting Workers’ Contributory Pensions – PenCom

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States Are Not Remitting Staff’s Contributory Pnesions

All state governments’ retirees in the country suffer either outright non-payment or long waits to access their pension benefits under the Contributory Pension Scheme.

Industry watchers have blamed this ugly trend on lack of political will by state governments to ensure a functional pension scheme in their states.

Retirees of states that have complied usually wait for between two and six years before they get paid, a source at PenCom said.

Status of implementation of the CPS in states as of June 30 showed that only four states and the Federal Capital Territory Administration had high level of compliance according to the National Pension Commission.

The commission listed theses five states that were funding the accrued rights of their workers regularly and commenced payment of pensions as Lagos, Kaduna, FCT, Osun and Delta.

Despite their higher level of compliance, these four states and the FCT still delayed in commencing pension payments to their retirees.

Lagos State, for instance, that received the National Pension Commission’s award on compliance has not started paying retirees that retired in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

The complying states blamed the delay in payment to backlog of arrears that needed to be cleared.

Anambra was funding the accrued rights of Local Government workers but not paying pensions under the CPS according to PenCom’s compliance list.

Five states with other pension schemes apart from the CPS are Jigawa, Kano, Yobe, Gombe and Zamfara.

The states at bill stage of joining the CPS are listed as Kwara, Plateau, Cross River, Borno, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi and Katsina.

The second quarter 2020 report of PenCom stated that 25 states had enacted pension laws on the Contributory Pension Scheme while seven states were at the bill stage.

Out of the five states operating other pension schemes, four states had adopted the Contributory Defined Benefits Scheme while one operates the Defined Benefits Scheme.

Among the states that had enacted laws on CPS was Niger State which suspended the implementation of the CPS in April, 2015.

However, the state governor recently approved the resumption of the scheme with effect from June 2020.

Among the states that adopted CDBS, Jigawa State was the only state that was fully implementing the scheme by consistently remitting employee pension contributions to selected PFAs to manage and had conducted actuarial valuation to ascertain any shortfall in the fund.

Kano State was yet to transfer its pension funds to licensed operators, and had huge arrears of pension liabilities as of the end of the review period.

Zamfara and Gombe States were yet to commence implementation of the CDBS as of the end of the quarter.

The Chairman, Trade Union Congress, Ogun State, Olubumi Fajobi, decried the backlog of arrears of pension and long waits suffered by retirees under the CPS.

He said, “Take Ogun State for example; we have a very large backlog running to almost N40bn that has not been remitted and that is for about 107 months.

“However, the government is taking steps to redress this.”

He worried that the governments were not committed in terms of remitting the contributions of workers.

Fajobi said, “The waiting period is also of concern for those who are accessing it. We have people waiting for two, three years before they can access any fund from the CPS after retirement.

“This makes a whole nonsense of the scheme from the 2004 reform and also for 2014 laws.”

The President, Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, Bola Audu, said any state that was not ready for the CPS should not start it, and those who started should endeavour to run it properly and not frustrate retirees.

“Pension is something somebody has worked all his life for and he intends to earn it when he is no longer able to work. So when you now play politics with those who are in pension, I don’t think it is a good idea at all,” he said.

A former President, TUC, Peter Esele, who described the pension situation as unfortunate said it encouraged corruption because those in active service were seeing the sufferings of retirees, and would want to amass as much funds as possible before they retired.

The Director, Centre for Pension Rights Advocacy, Ivor Takor, said the Pension Reform Act in 2004 created a lacuna.

What became obvious was that employees of states and local governments were not covered by or were excluded from the coverage of the Pension Reform Act 2004, he said.

Takor said, “The exclusion was not an oversight by the committee that carried out the reform, neither were sates and local government employees not covered in the executive bill that was sent to the National Assembly.

“Employees of states and local governments were covered in the executive bill sent by the President to the National Assembly.

“On the bill reaching the National Assembly, governors mobilised representatives of their states in both chambers of the National Assembly to remove employees of states and local governments from the bill before it was passed into law.

“Their reason was that the country was under civil rule; therefore, there must be the practice of true federalism, which does not allow the National Assembly to make laws for the states on an issue such as pension, which does not fall in the exclusive legislative list of the constitution.”

Takor said the mischief that found its way into the PRA 2004 was cured in the PRA 2014, which made the provisions of the Act to apply to any employment in public service of the Federation, Federal Capital Territory, states, local governments and the private sector.

Chairman, Federal Concerned Pensioners, David Adodo, lamented the treatment of senior citizens, who were denied their pension benefits.

The Allianz Global Pension Report 2020 recently ranked Nigeria 64th place, especially because of the insufficient adequacy of its pension system.

However, the acting Director-General, PenCom, Aisha Dahir-Umar, said the commission had continued to engage the state governments on compliance through interactive sessions, training and workshops.

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