Category Archives: Economy and Business

We are open to collaboration with French investors – Gov Ikpeazu

The Abia State Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu has sought the collaboration of the Government of France in attracting French companies to invest in the state, especially the Enyimba Economic City.

Governor Ikpeazu made the request recently when he received the French Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Jerome Pasquier courtesy visit.

He assured that his government will provide the necessary support needed by such French companies to invest in the state.

Governor Ikpeazu said he expects great collaboration from the French Government in the areas of Agriculture and Technical Education.

He disclosed that his government plans to build a Youth Eco-System where Abia Children could acquire skills and be citizens who can fit into the technological demands of the 21st century.

He appealed to the Ambassador to partner with the state in that regard.

The State Chief Executive who described Education as key to success in every other venture said the focus of the state is on Technical Education and solicited the French Government to do more in that regard.

Earlier, the French Ambassador to Nigeria Mr Jerome Pasquier said his country is open to any possibility of working with Abia State in the area of Education and Agriculture

He described Abia as one of the best places in Nigeria for investment and promised to make the French presence felt in the State.

Governor Ikpeazu also presented some Made in Aba items as commemorative gifts to the Ambassador.

The French Ambassador had earlier arrived at the Government House Umuahia and was received by the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Dr. ACB Agbazuere.

He was also later conducted round the National War Museum Umuahia.

Senator Mao Ohuabunwa and the Coordinator of the Education For Employment (E4E) program of the State Government, Mr. Endi Ezengwa were present at the event.

NBS ranks Abia third for 2020 capital inflow

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has ranked Abia State as the third state with top capital inflow in 2020.

According to NBS, “By destination, Lagos emerged as the top destination of capital investment in Nigeria with $8.3 billion, followed by Abuja, which received $1.3 billion.

“The others on the list are Abia State with relatively $56 million, Niger with $16.4 million, and Ogun with $13.4 million.

Anambra State recorded $10.2 million, Kaduna State recorded $4.03 million, Sokoto got $2.5 million and Kano got $2.4 million”.

It stated that the remaining 26 states received no foreign capital inflows the entire year.

The states include: Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Taraba, Yobe, and Zamfara States.

Ikpeazu urges Security Agencies to patronize Aba shoe factory

*Says factory capable of producing world class boots

Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has urged various security agencies in the country to jettison the idea of traveling abroad to acquire security boots but patronize the Enyimba Automated Shoe factory which has the sufficient capacity to produce such boots in commercial quantity and world class quality.

Governor Ikpeazu who stated this at the Abia Social media Converge with the theme, “Social media For Good Governance” held at the Dr Michael Okpara Auditorium, Umuahia, said that Made in Aba shoes can compete favourably with any other brand globally.

He disclosed that the Enyimba Automated Shoe factory just concluded the supply of industrial shoes to the Nigerian Railway Corperation and has become the official supplier of shoes to the Nigerian Correctional Services. He therefore beckoned on other Agencies in the country yet to identify with the Enyimba Automated Shoe factory to do the needful for the growth of the nation’s economy.

The Governor expressed joy that his campaigns for the Made in Aba products and its standardization has paid off as artisans in Aba are now proudly inscribing Made in Aba on their products as a brand.

Governor Ikpeazu who commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the Executive Order on compulsory patronage of locally made goods, added that such has started yielding results for the economic prosperity of Nigeria.

BREAKING: Okonjo-Iweala confirmed as 1st female & 1st African Director-General of the World Trade Organisation

Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was selected by consensus to be the next director-general of the World Trade Organization at a closed-door meeting on Monday, according to two sources attending the meeting.

All members of the WTO’s top decision-making body, the General Council, agreed on her appointment in a virtual meeting which had just one agenda item, they said. The WTO subsequently confirmed the choice.

She becomes the first woman director general, as well as the first African to hold this position.

Nigerians Can Now Sue Shell In The UK For Oil Pollution

Nigerians can sue Shell in English courts for damage to communities caused by oil spills in the Niger Delta, the UK’s Supreme Court said on Friday, allowing the communities to bring their claims for compensation and clean-up in UK courts.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Ogale and Bille communities who have contended that Shell should be held liable for the oil spills under the supervision of its Nigerian subsidiary SPDC.

The UK Supreme Court overturned a split decision of the Court of Appeal and held that the two cases brought by the Ogale and Bille communities are arguable and can proceed in the English courts.

The Supreme Court ruling adds another precedent for oil companies who can be sued in their domicile for oil spills and other harm to communities in other countries.

Last month, The Hague Court of Appeal ordered Shell to compensate Nigerian farmers for two oil spills in the country 13 years ago, in the first lawsuit in which a company has been held liable in the Netherlands for its actions abroad.

Shell hasn’t argued that the oil spills did not happen, but has always said that the spills happened in communities with rampant oil theft and infrastructure sabotage.

“Regardless of the cause of a spill, SPDC cleans up and remediates. It also works hard to prevent these sabotage spills, by using technology, increasing surveillance and by promoting alternative livelihoods for those who might damage pipes and equipment. Unfortunately, such criminal acts remain the main sources of pollution across the Niger Delta today,” a spokesperson for Shell said, as carried by Sky News.

Persistent issues with theft and sabotage in the Niger Delta could prompt Shell to take a hard look at its operations onshore Nigeria, the supermajor’s chief executive Ben van Beurden said last week.

Daniel Leader, a partner with law firm Leigh Day representing the Nigerian communities, said, commenting on Friday’s ruling:

“This Supreme Court judgment gives real hope to the people of Ogale and Bille who have been asking Shell to clean up their oil for years. We hope that now, finally, Shell will act. But it also represents a watershed moment in the accountability of multinational companies.”

CBN bans cryptocurrency trading in Nigeria, orders closure of cryptocurreny accounts

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has directed Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) and other financial institutions to close accounts of persons who are using their systems for cryptocurrency trading.

A cryptocurrency is a virtual or digital currency that appreciates or depreciates on the whims of market forces.

Trading with Bitcoin–a cryptocurrency type–has gained traction globally and in Nigeria lately; and most young people have been investing in the cryptocurrency world, buying and selling bitcoin and making profit for themselves.

But the apex ban is clearly not a fan of digital currencies.
In a statement signed by Bello Hassan, Director of Banking Supervision; and Musa Jimoh, Director of Payments System Management Department, the CBN said:

“Further to earlier regulatory directives on the subject, the bank hereby wishes to remind regulated institutions that dealing in crypto currencies or facilitating payments for cryptocurrency exchange is prohibited.

“Accordingly, all DMBs, NBFIs and OFIs are directed to identify persons and/or entities transacting in or operating crypto currency exchanges within their systems and ensure that such accounts are closed immediately.”

The CBN also declared that breaches of its directive will attract severe regulatory sanctions.

CBN has never liked cryptocurrency

It is not the first time that the CBN would be showing its disdain for cryptocurrency. In 2018, the apex bank issued a circular to say cryptocurrencies are not legal tenders in Nigeria.

“For the avoidance of doubt, dealers and investors in any kind of cryptocurrency in Nigeria are not protected by law. Virtual currencies are traded in exchange platforms that are unregulated, all over the world.

“Consumers may therefore lose their money without any legal redress in the event these exchangers collapse or close business.

“Members of the public are hereby warned that virtual currencies are not legal tender in Nigeria. Accordingly, we wish to caution all and sundry on the risks inherent in such activities,” the 2018 statement had read.

Other types of cryptocurrencies are Ethereum, Litecoin, Polkadot, Chainlink, Binance coin, Tether, Gadecoin, etc.

Enugu earmarks N42.4 billion for works, infrastructure development

The Enugu State Government said it has budgeted the sum of N42,493,710,000 for works and infrastructure development in its 2021 approved budget christened ‘Budget of Recovery and Continued Growth.’

The state which earmarked the sum of N169,845,750,500 for its 2021 fiscal year, allocated N101,134,758,500 for capital expenditure, while the sum of N68,711,000,000 was budgeted for recurrent expenditure.

The Commissioner for Budget and Planning, David Okelue Ugwunta, who briefed the press at Enugu during the state’s budget breakdown said the state intends to strategically enhance recovery of the state from the drawbacks of 2020 and further consolidate on the foundation already laid in creating an environment that encourages natural, social and infrastructural development in line with the current eight-point agenda of the state government.

While giving the breakdown of the budgetary allocation on works and infrastructure in the state, the commissioner said N200 million would be for the provision of solar street lightings and generating sets, while N2 billion was allocated for the construction/renovation of public buildings in the state.

He equally said that N3 billion was earmarked for the construction of additional facilities at the Enugu State University of Science and Technology at Igbo Eno, also in the state, adding that N4 billion was also budgeted for the rehabilitation/construction of urban and rural roads in the state among other projects listed under works and infrastructure upgrade in the state.

He equally said that the targets of the budget which has already been approved by the state’s House of Assembly would be to increase the percentage of Internally Generated revenue in the recurrent revenue by 50% and also uphold the budget performance at least by 85%.
The commissioner also said that the budget targets to maintain a capital expenditure to recurrent expenditure ratio of 60:40, adding that it also aims to have 100% cash-backing of all expenditure approvals among other targets.

The Zonal Vice President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Comrade Kenneth Ofoma who addressed the state’s government delegation on behalf of the journalists in the state, enjoined the government to ensure prudent implementation of the budget.

WhatsApp gives in, halts rollout of controversial update

WhatsApp will halt the rollout of its controversial new update amid protests from users.

People will now have three extra months to agree to its new rules, the company said.

And WhatsApp has committed to try and distribute more information about the rules in advance of the deadline in the hope of dispelling what it says is “misinformation”.

Users had originally been told they had to agree to the new rules by 8 February, or face having their accounts suspended or deleted.

Instead, users will have until 15 May before they are forced to agree to the rules, in the hope that they can “review the policy at their own pace”.

In the meantime, the company will “do a lot more to clear up the misinformation around how privacy and security works on WhatsApp”.

WhatsApp’s privacy policy began being pushed out to users in recent months and caused concern that it would be sharing more information with Facebook.

The company says that the new policy does not “expand our ability to share data with Facebook”, and that it is instead focused on its new business updates, which allow companies to host their shops on Facebook and communicate with users through WhatsApp. As such, the new rules do mention Facebook but primarily because communications with those businesses may be hosted on its servers.

But that has nonetheless led to a flurry of concerns that information and personal data from WhatsApp is being shared with Facebook.

That in turn has meant that users have rushed to competing apps such as Signal and Telegram, in pursuit of what they perceive to be better security and privacy.

In its announcement, WhatsApp suggested that those concerns were rooted in “confusion” and “misinformation”.

“We’ve heard from so many people how much confusion there is around our recent update,” it said in the blog post that revealed the delay. “There’s been a lot of misinformation causing concern and we want to help everyone understand our principles and the facts.

“WhatsApp was built on a simple idea: what you share with your friends and family stays between you. This means we will always protect your personal conversations with end-to-end encryption, so that neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can see these private messages. It’s why we don’t keep logs of who everyone’s messaging or calling. We also can’t see your shared location and we don’t share your contacts with Facebook.”

NIN deadline stands, as NCC awaits govt’s advice

The Nigerian Communications Commission on Wednesday said it was awaiting the advice of the Federal Government as regards the deadline for the integration of Subscriber Identification Modules with valid National Identity Numbers.

It also stated that the earlier announced deadlines were still in force despite the clamour for extension or outright suspension of the registration process.

Calls for deadline extension were mainly due to the large crowds that gather daily at the various offices of the National Identity Management Commission.

The Director, Public Affairs, NCC, Ikechukwu Adinde, told our correspondent in Abuja that no deadline extension had been approved.

He said, “Right now, apart from the recent information that we made concerning the extension, no further update yet.

“The information on this matter was the one that talked about when we moved the extension to January 19 for those who have NINs and February 9 for those who do not have.”

When probed further on whether there had been moves to either extend or suspend the exercise, Adinde replied, “No, no, no; if you follow the opinion of the public, it is in favour of extending it.

“And then, of course, recently there have been concerns on the effect of COVID-19 and all that. But I am sure government is listening and once we are advised, we will go to the press and announce the new position.

“However, as it is now, we are waiting to see what happens at the end of the day, as the recent deadline extension still stands.”

The Federal Government had declared on December 15, 2020 that after December 30, 2020, all SIMs that were not registered with valid NINs on the network of telecommunications companies would be blocked.

It later extended the December 30, 2020 deadline following widespread opposition against the earlier announcement and gave three weeks’ extension for subscribers with NIN from December 30, 2020 to January 19, 2021.

It also gave six week-extension for subscribers without NIN from December 30, 2020 to February 9, 2021.

Commenting on the development, the National Coordinator, Alliance for Affordable Internet, Olusola Teniola, said the massive crowds at NIMC offices showed that it would be tough to register and integrate all SIMs with valid NINs.

“It is clear that the dates that we are trying to achieve are not going to be met,” he said.

The President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, Ikechukwu Nnamani, said it was obvious that the number of persons without NINs was so large.

Nigeria is now the world’s second-biggest bitcoin market after the US

Uwagbale Edward-Ekpu

During the police brutality protests in Nigeria in October, bitcoin saved the day when the government shut out protesters from using local payment platforms for collecting donations to support it.

The young, tech-savvy protesters quickly switched to using bitcoin, and in about a week bitcoin accounted for around 40% of the nearly $400,000 raised. It was just one high-profile example of how young Nigerians increasingly use bitcoin to navigate a complicated and restrictive banking and monetary system.

In the last five years, Nigeria has traded 60,215 bitcoins, valued at more than $566 million which, apart from the US, is the largest volume worldwide on Paxful, a leading peer-to-peer bitcoin marketplace. The data scraped from Coin Dance shows from the beginning of May 2015 to the middle of November this year, bitcoin trade in Nigeria have increased yearly at least 19% in volume since 2017, and the highest volume (20,504.50) was traded in 2020.

Bitcoin trade had its highest spike of 30% this year during the national lockdown in the country and the highest volume traded during the peak of the pandemic. between January and September, Paxful was reported to record a 137% increase in new registrations in Nigeria.”

The company says Nigerians make up around a quarter of its customer base with 1.3 million registered accounts. “They mostly use the platform for peer-to-peer and arbitrage trading,” says Nena Nwachukwu, Paxful Nigeria regional manager. “Remittances is also a popular use case.” Nwachukwu says bitcoin transfers are “much cheaper and faster than using traditional money transfer operators.”

The growing uncertainty and instability around the Nigerian naira, which has had increasingly divergent official and parallel exchange rates with the US dollar, has created an opportunity and practical use case for bitcoin trade in Nigeria. The divergent rates have long been a striking feature of Nigeria’s economy but more so in the last half decade as the country’s financial authorities have attempted to micro-manage the supply of foreign exchange and “defend” the naira.

In the last couple of years, other African countries, most prominently Zimbabwe, have seen a spike in cryptocurrency trade led by bitcoin, due to currency fluctuations and uncertain monetary policy. In some cases limits to the trade has been prompted by a lack of reliable local platforms.

“The lack of bitcoin liquidity was the first obstacle to solve to introduce bitcoin to Africa,” says Ray Youssef, co-founder of Paxful.

Nigerians are often restricted on international platforms such as PayPal, which does not allow payment to Nigeria, and local banks place a cap on international transactions and charge high fees for transactions due to dollar deficiency.

“People want to be able to buy and sell, transact internationally and the more the traditional channels are being restricted the more people trade crypto and mainly bitcoin,” explains Eleanya Eke, co-founder of Buycoins Africa. “And the best thing about it is that it’s almost impossible to stop. If you block the exchange it moves to Peer-to-peer platforms that are non-custodial.”

The increased awareness and availability of easy-to-use bitcoin platforms to Nigerians have largely increased bitcoin liquidity in the country, therefore solving the first problem hindering adoption. Nigerians now have several formal and semiformal bitcoin platforms to use, ranging from international platforms including Paxful, Binance, and Luno, and local ones such as Quidax, Busha, and BuyCoins. However, long-term watchers say most trading in the country is done on informal channels such as Telegram, WhatsApp bad WeChat.

“Globally, there was a shift to online transactions from the physical,” says Osaretin Victor Asemota, a Nigerian tech investor. “In Nigeria, as banks were closed, the agency outlets recorded much higher transaction volumes. I think this shift was inevitable, and it is not a temporary pandemic boost.”

Bitcoin traded as low as $3,600 in March due to a massive sell-off on global financial markets has this month surged past $20,000 for the first time. While in the past, the value has increased like this only to later dropped drastically in a few weeks, some analysts say this increase may continue into 2021 as it appears it is due to the growing interest of institutional investors in the cryptocurrency.

Institutional investors such as MassMutual and MicroStrategy were reportedly planning to purchase hundreds of million-dollar worth of bitcoin, while PayPal, a top global online payment company recently added cryptocurrency to its functionality, letting people use bitcoin to pay for things online.