The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive of Zenith Bank, Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu has called for a concerted effort towards diversifying the country’s export base through the promotion of non-oil exports. He made the call during a Webinar themed “Prospects of Non-Oil Export During and Post COVID-19” organized by the bank on Wednesday, August 26, 2020.
According to him, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic which has impacted the demand for oil and, by extension, the price of crude oil in the international commodities market has further exposed Nigeria’s over-dependency on crude oil earnings and its susceptibility to oil-related shocks. He added that the events of the last couple of months have also highlighted the limited range of the country’s value-added products exported to foreign markets.
He noted further that boosting non-oil export is imperative in view of the opportunities that exist in the broader contexts of ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which seeks to create a continent-wide market of 1.2 billion people with combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion and about $4 trillion in consumer and business spending.
Whilst commending the efforts of the government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to deepen the non-oil export business in the country, Onyeagwu urged players in the non-oil export value-chain including exporters and financial institutions to play their part in the drive towards expanding the nation’s non-oil export base.
Delivering the keynote address, the Director of Trade & Exchange, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr. (Mrs) Ozoemena Nnaji, who commended Zenith Bank for organizing the webinar at a time like this, observed that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is a wake-up call for the country, as it has once again exposed the over-dependence of the Nigerian economy on one product. She therefore called for a deeper policy look at the non-oil sector to find ways of genuinely improving the quality and quantity of our non-oil export goods.
Also speaking at the Webinar, the Chief Executive/Executive Director of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr. Olusegun Awolowo commended the efforts of Zenith bank in promoting non-oil export business in Nigeria, describing the bank as ‘the Export Trade Bank of Nigeria’. Speaking on the topic “Repositioning Non-oil export as a Leading Revenue Earner: Government Plans and Programmes”, Awolowo noted that the crash in oil prices following the COVID-19 pandemic and OPEC’s price war with Russia reinforced what everyone already knows – the mono-product economy of the country is not sustainable, calling for a buy-in into the Zero oil policy of NEPC.
Zenith Bank remains committed to the promotion of the non-oil export sector in Nigeria by identifying emerging opportunities which help in stimulating non-oil exports and developing robust financial products and incentives for operators in the sector. The bank launched the Non-Oil Export Seminar in 2017 as an initiative to deepen the discourse on promoting non-oil export business in Nigeria.
Inflation Rate Increases Further in August to 13.22%
Prices of Goods and Services Jump in Nigeria in August
Nigeria’s inflation rate rose further in the month of August to the highest since April 2018, according to the latest report from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
In the report released on Tuesday, the NBS said Consumer Price Index, which measures inflation rate, increase by 13.22 percent in the month under review.
This represents a 0.40 percent points increase from the 12.82 percent posted for the month of July.
On a monthly basis, consumer prices increased by 0.09 percent points from 1.25 per cent achieved in July to 1.34 percent in August 2020.
The report read in part, “The consumer price index, which measures inflation increased by 13.22 percent (year-on-year) in August 2020. This is 0.40 percent points higher than the rate recorded in July 2020 (12.82 percent).
“On a month-on-month basis, the headline index increased by 1.34 percent in August 2020. This is 0.09 per cent higher than the rate recorded in July 2020 (1.25 per cent).”
Rising costs continue to disrupt consumer spending in Africa’s largest economy, especially after President Muhammadu Buhari removed subsidy, up VAT from 5 percent to 7.5 percent and implemented service reflective electricity tariff during a tough period of global pandemic.
Despite majority of Nigerians saying the time is wrong, experts have said it was the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank that compelled the administration to up revenue generation in order to continue to service its debt and embark on necessary capital projects.
With the $3.4 billion loan secured from the IMF in May running out amid falling oil price and weak demand for the commodity, the Buhari led administration once again approached the World Bank for another loan of $1.5 billion to further cushion the negative impacts of COVID-19.
According to the people familiar with the process, the new loan is not receiving much attention from the multilateral financial institution as it insisted that some of the agreement reached with the International Monetary Fund before securing the $3.4 billion have not been implemented.
This, experts said was one of the main reasons the federal government made all the recent adjustments despite economic challenges and limitations.
The food index increase from 15.48 percent in July to 16 percent in the month of August, according to the statistics office.
“This rise in the food index was caused by increases in prices of bread and cereals, potatoes, yam and other tubers, meat, fish, fruits, oils and fats and vegetables,” it added.
The persistent increase in prices bolstered cost of living and plunged consumer spending in Africa’s largest economy due to broad-based layoffs and businesses shutting down operations for a safe haven.
NNPC Says It Spent N41.98 Billion on Pipeline Repairs in Six Months
NNPC Spends N41.98 Billion on Pipeline Repairs
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has said it spent a total sum of N41.98 billion on pipeline repairs and management in the first six months of the year.
The corporation stated in its latest monthly oil report, saying “Products theft and vandalism have continued to destroy value and put NNPC at disadvantaged competitive position.”
It explained that a total of 1,067 pipeline points were vandalised between June 2019 and June 2020 with 33 of those vandalised in June 2020. That was 11 percent lower than the 37 points vandalised in the month of May.
The NNPC said, “Mosimi-Ibadan accounted for 33 per cent while ATC-Mosimi and Warri-River Niger recorded 27 per cent of the breaks each; other locations make up for the remaining 13 per cent.
“NNPC in collaboration with the local communities and other stakeholders continuously strive to reduce and eventually eliminate this menace.”
Further break down showed the NNPC spent N5.48 billion on pipeline repairs and management costs in the month of January 2020. In February, March, April, May and June of the same year, the corporation spent N6.74 billion; N7.69 billion; N7.84 billion; N7.99 billion and N6.24 billion, respectively.
The corporation also said the pipelines have aged over the years, therefore, giving rise to frequent failures and consequent operational downtimes.
“In addition, these facilities have aged over the years giving rise to frequent failures and consequent operational downtimes, high maintenance cost and revenue losses,” the NNPC added.
Supporting Public Private Partnerships in Africa: African Development Bank Ready to Scale up
The African Development Bank Estimates Africa’s Infrastructure Financing Needs at up to $170bn a year by 2025
Representatives of the African Development Bank, governments, Development Finance Institutions, the private sector and professional associations joined a September 8 workshop to discuss how the Bank can strengthen support for Public Private Partnerships and channel greater investment toward economic and social infrastructure. The event, titled Designing the African Development Bank’s PPP Framework, was hosted virtually by the Bank.
The workshop took place against the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic slowdown, which has sharpened an already urgent need for investment. Five African countries accounted for more than 50% of all successful PPP activity from 2008 to 2018: South Africa, Morocco, Nigeria, Egypt and Ghana. Several other countries have multiple PPPs in the pipeline– Burkina Faso has 20, and Botswana, 8.
“Before the COVID-19 pandemic, African infrastructure was already struggling to structure projects tailored for the private sector and at the same time achieving value for money for the public sector including affordability for users. It is therefore imperative that hybrid solutions such as PPPs must be seen and promoted as a way of building back better, stronger, greener, by clawing back private capital to infrastructure while creating much needed fiscal room for governments to address multiple other demands including building health systems’ resiliency.” Bank Vice President Solomon Quaynor said in his opening remarks.
The African Development Bank estimates Africa’s infrastructure financing needs at up to $170 billion a year by 2025, with an estimated financing gap of up to of $68 to $108 billion a year. PPPs are seen as a key element in narrowing this gap by crowding in private sector investment in infrastructure and African Development Bank is playing a critical role in scaling up that effort.
Amadou Oumarou, Director for the Bank’s Infrastructure and Urban Development department presented several rationales for the Bank’s effort to develop a PPP framework, including its Ten-Year Strategy (2013-2022) and a recommendation from the Bank’s Independent (IDEV) evaluation unit to scale up PPP interventions.
Webinar participants expressed a desire for the Bank to play an expanded role in supporting PPP development in Africa by strengthening policy and regulatory frameworks, building government capacity; project structuring and advisory services; and the provision of financing instruments such de-risking, guarantees, credit enhancements and local currency financing.
“Countries need to learn from each other’s achievements and mistakes, they need to have standard documents and checklists that will guide institutions in these countries through the PPP lifecycle,” said Shoubhik Ganguly of Rebel Group International, which is partnering with the Bank to develop the framework.
Mike Salawou, Division Manager; Infrastructure Partnerships, said “Policy dialogue is something the Bank places a lot of premium on, and that has proven to be very efficient in informing decision making.”
“One of the challenges RMCs are faced with is selecting the right project for implementation, therefore support should start from there, then going through to actual project preparation makes it a lot easier,” said Michael Opagi, Division Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa, IFC.
Private sector representatives praised DFIs as indispensable in securing financing for PPP projects in Africa. One example of a successful PPP project cited during the workshop is the Kigali Bulk Water project, which received significant backing from the African Development Bank, the World Bank, as well as private sector players.
According to Phillipe Valahu, CEO, PIDG the Kigali Water project is a perfect example of having an integrated support to a PPP project by using the three pillars proposed in the Bank’s PPP Framework. The project benefited from debt funding from PIDG alongside the African Development Bank which each provided $19 million of senior debt on commercial terms.
“The African Development Bank has unparalleled trust relationships with African governments, and we need to take advantage of that to speed up implementation of PPPS,” Quaynor said in closing.
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