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Trade and Industry

MTN holds truce talks with Nigeria over US$8.1b

Telecoms firm MTN says it is holding talks with Nigerian officials to find a “mutually acceptable solution” to a dispute over the alleged transfer of 8.1 billion dollars. MTN made this known in a statement on Tuesday in Johannesburg. MTN said that further announcement on the issue would be made in due course.
“Shareholders are advised to continue to exercise caution when dealing in the company’s securities until a further announcement is made,” MTN said.


MTN and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) are in a dispute over the transfer of 8.1 billion dollars which the bank said the company had sent abroad and breaches foreign-exchange regulations.

But Godwin Emefiele, governor of CBN said, while addressing reporters on Oct. 7 in London that the CBN may reduce the amount it had ordered MTN Nigeria to repatriate. 

Emefiele said that new documents provided by the telecom company would help to reduce the size of the claim. “I don’t think it will be staying at 8.1bn dollars.

“I want to believe that the figure will reduce. Whether it will be dropped completely, I honestly cannot say at this time,” he added.

Emefiele said the central bank had received documents about four weeks ago from MTN and four lenders involved in the case.

The lenders are Standard Chartered, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Citibank and Diamond Bank, adding that the apex bank was in communication with all parties involved.

Nigeria focuses on diversification of economy

The Minister of  Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, has said Nigeria would not lose focus on diversifying the economy from  oil to other sustainable sectors like agriculture.

Ahmed said at the ongoing 24th Nigerian Economic Summit on Tuesday in Abuja.

Ahmed spoke topic, “Sustainable Economic Opportunities’’ said despite the rise in crude oil price at the international market, government was committed to diversifying the economy by growing agriculture and other sectors.

“We are not shifting away our attention from diversifying the economy, from growing agriculture, mining, as well as ensuring that the right infrastructure are put in place to support businesses.

“What happens in the oil industry is not within our control, the price may go up today and it could go low again, and also it is predisposed to destruction.

“So what happens if production  goes down,  so we are not losing  sight of the fact  that we need to stay and focus on growing  other sectors of the economy,’’ he said.

She stressed the need to shift attention away from oil and gas, adding that government  was  investing  revenues from oil  into other sectors of the economy  that were more sustainable. 

The minister also said government in its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), had mapped out some clear target on what it planned to achieve in the economy.

“Our target is to attain 10,000 Mega Watts (MW) electricity by the year 2020, and we started up with 3,500 MWs and we have 7, 200 MWs, so, we are on target and we will surpass the target that we have set,’’ she said.

Ahmed noted that government had plans to concession the four major airports in the country, adding that construction of some major road projects across the country were also on going.

The minister said government was also looking at how to bring in private capital financing to match its funding to grow other sectors of the economy.

“We have a situation where our economy has begun to go back on the part of growth, but also exposed to fragility by external shocks.

“We also have this growing unemployment rate that is really a threat to all of us in the country.

“We have on the  other hand a very large population  of  youths that  are very  active and enterprising  and  that itself is a  huge  advantage .

“This is because the most important resource we have are actually  the  people, our youths   and what we have to do as policy makers is to engage and make the youth to be productive.’’

She advised government at all levels to engage the private sector to provide electricity and create other opportunities to engage the youth meaningfully.

Ahmed added that the government was committed at creating opportunities for growth and development.


Nigeria banks on tourism for revenue

As part of diversification initiative, Nigeria has pledged to make tourism a veritable sector for  revenue generation.

President Muhammadu Buhari made the pledge at the launch of the Heritage Bikers Tour of Nigeria.

Buhari, who was represented by Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, said the effort would support sustainable development going on to uplift the nation.

“LAMA Bikers, though citizens of different nations of the world including Brazil, Mexico, USA, Puerto Rico, South Africa, but are joined together by a common desire to promote heritage and tourism in nations that welcome them.

“ Nigeria has welcomed them in line with our ambition to make tourism a veritable income earner for this nation.

“I am very pleased at this laudable initiative birthed by the National Commission of Museums and Monuments of Nigeria (NCMM),“ the president said.

The president said the tour would take local and international biking group, led by LAMA Bikers, to museums, monuments and heritage sites in 11 states of the federation. According to Buhari, the tourism sites in the 11 states are under the auspices of the NCMM.

In his vote of thanks, Acting Director-General, NCMM, Alhaji Abdulkerim Kadiri, expressed gratitude to the president for his clear vision for placing generation of revenue through tourism among the six-point agenda of his administration.

He applauded the Minister for Information and Culture for his keen interest in the project and effort to promote tourism in Nigeria using national cultural heritage.

“Today, we are living witnesses to the renaissance that he has for long championed,” he said.

He thanked the First Entertainment Company, Lumazio Production and Entertainment, Jordan FM, Federal Inland Revenue Services, all parastatals present, including all media houses that are supporting the laudable event.

“We are bold to add that our quest and desire to rebrand the NCMM with this project is a decision in the right direction. This project shall be an annual event so we appeal to all and sundry to join hands with us.

“Also to use this project and others that will soon come on board in making Nigeria one of the most important tourism destinations in the world,” he said.


Economic Summit Group clamours for Roundtable bills  

The Chairman, Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), Mr Asue Ighadalo, has urged the National Assembly (NASS), to expeditiously pass some of its National Assembly Business Environment Roundtable (NASSBER) bills before it.

Ighadalo made the call at the on-going 24th Nigerian Economic Summit on Monday in Abuja.

He said NESG was partnering the NASS to provide content, promote, amend and prepare for passage, bills that encourage and support private-sector investments and improve the overall business environment.

He said the engagement of NESG with the National Assembly had been strengthened through the National Assembly Business Environment Roundtable (NASSBER).

Ighadalo, however, expressed concern on some other NASSBER Bills yet to be passed by  the National Assembly.

He listed some of them to include, the amended Companies and Allied Matters Bill, Nigerian Railway Bill, National Roads Funds Bill, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Bill, Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Bill and the Arbitration and Conciliation Bill

“We strongly urge the National Assembly, in the spirit of our partnership, to expeditiously pass these bills.

“We appreciate the immense work they have done so far, and we encourage them to do even more, despite the distractions, in this last months of this very productive 8th session,” he said.

The NESG is a leading voice in the discourse to create an enabling business environment that encourages private investment and sustainable economic growth.

It has also vigorously advocated for the concepts of efficient and inclusive private sector-led growth.

The outcome of its dialogues covering various sectors of the economy has provided the basis for several policy documents for governments at all levels.

The NESG chairman, reiterated the importance of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), and urged the government to ensure it continues its implementation.

He commended the government in its effort toward strengthening the country’s economy while urging it not to relent its effort.

“However, despite these improvements, our country remains vulnerable on multiple fronts, economic, social and political.

“The narrative must shift forcefully to inclusive growth and development.

“This can only be achieved through good governance and strong institutions.

“Efficient markets and macro-economic stability are essential for inclusive development but its diverse dimension calls for a broader capacity to deal with complex problems, strong levels of policy coherence and effective institutions, Ighadalo said. 

On behalf of the Board of NESG, Ighadalo expressed gratitude to the Federal Government through, the Ministry of Budget and National Planning for sustaining the dialogue.



Saudi Arabia plans $50b deal

Saudi Arabia plans to sign deals worth more than $50 billion in the oil, gas, industries and infrastructure sectors.

The deal is to be signed at an investment conference in Riyadh on Tuesday, a source familiar with the matter said.

The deals will be signed with companies including Trafigura, Total, Hyundai, Norinco, Schlumberger, Halliburton and Baker Hughes, the source said.

The deals will include the establishment of a copper, zinc and lead smelter with Trafigura Group; a joint agreement to build an integrated petrochemical complex and downstream park in the second phase of the SATORP refinery, jointly held by Saudi Arabia’s Aramco and Total; and investments in retail gas stations also by Aramco and Total.