Agba Leads Govt Delegation to South Korea on Bilateral Cooperation
By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, is at the head of a Nigerian government’s delegation to Seoul, South Korea, for a week-long mission for strategic dialogues with the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and Korea-Africa Foundation (KAF).
The visit is intended to, among other purposes, forge new frontiers of mutual cooperation between the countries and deepen existing bilateral ties.
As a prelude to the series of meetings and dialogue sessions, Agba met with the Nigerian Ambassador to South Korea, Ali Mohammed Magashi, with top officials in the Embassy, and discussed cross-cutting issues bordering on the status of the bilateral relations between Nigeria and South Korea.
Issues that featured during the discussions included outstanding Agreements such as the Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement; Labour; Avoidance of Double Taxation to be concluded to further boost the investment climate and the volume of trade of USD 2 billion in 2021 and the way forward.
The Minister took the opportunity of the meeting to shed light on the Nigeria’s National Development Plan 2021- 2025 and the investment opportunities for the South Korean private investors in key sectors such as Agriculture, Manufacturing, ICT, Oil and Gas (midstream) to accelerate the country’s economic growth that is already diversified.
He urged the ambassador to canvass for investments in the identified sectors in pursuance of Nigeria’s unwavering effort at ensuring and consolidating its concentric diversification of the national economy.
At the meeting with the President of the 5-year-old Korea-Africa Foundation, Mr Lyeo Woon-Ki, the minister applauded the purpose of establishing the Foundation as an affiliate of the South Korean’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is to, among other things, foster business and cultural cooperation between the country and African continent as well as promote genuine partnership in political and academic spheres.
He noted that South Korea had a vibrant private sector and gave insight into the plan envisaged for the sector in the NDP 2021-2025 for investment in Nigeria.
The minister allayed the fears expressed by the Foundation President regarding doing business in Nigeria and apprised him of the immigration and customs reforms in place and the country’s upward leap, by 20 points, in the ease of doing business ranking.
He also paid a courtesy visit to the Acting President of Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), Mr. Youn-Young Lee.
As a grant aid provider under the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the minister lauded the “excellent cordial relationship” between the Federal Government of Nigeria and KOICA since it began operations in 2008.
He thanked the President of the Republic of South Korea, His Excellency, Yoon Suk Yeol, the Government and people of South Korea for the prestigious National Award of Diplomatic Service Merit (Heungin Medal) recently awarded to him in Abuja as first recipient in Africa.
Agba said the several grant aids and technical cooperation projects implemented by the Agency had been impactful.
He acknowledged the various KOICA-supported capacity-building training extended to the Nigerian government officials in several fields of human endeavours as well as technical cooperation.
The training, according to him, “covers short-term, long-term, Masters and Postgraduate scholarship programmes and in-country training programme.”
The minister noted the future areas of cooperation mentioned by the KOICA President and confirmed their alignment with Nigeria’s priorities as encapsulated in the NDP 2021-2025.
Meanwhile, the Minister, consequent upon receiving a report about a Nigerian family who lost four children in domestic fire that razed their apartment in Ansan Danwon, on the outskirts of Seoul, decided to pay the family and the Nigerian community in Ansan Danwon a condolence visit.
The visit happened on Monday, March 27, 2023, in company with the Nigerian Ambassador to South Korea.
They condoled with the Nigerian family of seven, Mr. Felix Nwafor, who lost four children (2 boys and 2 girls) to an inferno that occurred in the early hours of that day. The couple and a two-year old daughter who survived are receiving medical attention at a Korean Hospital in the area.
Naira Remains Constant, Exchanges N464.67 to Dollar
Naira remained constant yesterday, exchanging at N464.67 to the dollar at the Investors and Exporters’ window.
The local currency did not change from its value on Monday, while the open indicative rate closed at N464.96 to the dollar yesterday.
An exchange rate of N467 to the dollar was the highest rate recorded within the day’s trading before it settled at N464.67.
The naira sold for as low as N460 to the dollar within the day’s trading.
A total of 186.02 million dollars was traded at the official Investors and Exporters’ window yesterday.
Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday in Kano carried out sensitisation campaign on the e-Naira at the Aliko Dangote University of Science and Technology (ADUST) Wudil.
The Kano Branch Controller of the bank, Umar Ibrahim-Biu, called on the university community to adopt the new e-wallet system in its payment of tuitions, salaries and other financial transactions.
He explained the need for the university community to migrate to the cashless system was for financial security and efficiency by adopting to the e-Naira initiative.
The controller said that e-Naira was a trail blazer now as it had come to stay and the bank was trying to make sure that everybody was brought on board.
“We’ve been to Universities of Nsuka and Jos and now we are here to also sell the idea of e-Naira wallet to both the students and staff of the institution,” he said
“Our target is where the students can use the facility to pay their tuition fees and other payments through the e-Naira wallet,” he added.
“This will help the students a lot, it’s the safest way of handling your funds. Nobody will steal it, it will eradicate corruption. One does not need to carry huge amount of cash,” he said.
“The VC has accepted it. With e-Naira they can get up to five per cent revert on every payment they make.
“Their money doesn’t go like that they save something out of it. There are a lot of other incentives they can enjoy,” he added.
Earlier, the Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Musa Yakasai, gave the assurance that the institution would key into the e-Naira initiative.
Yakasai appreciated the initiative and lauded the Bank for coming to launch the e-Naira initiative in the institution.
He said the students were already e-Naira compliant.
“They are doing a lot of things, some of the academic activities are via e-platforms. So its very easy for students to adopt this e-era.
The students asked some questions regarding the safety of their deposits in the initiative.
“We now understand the e-Naira concept and we are now convinced and we will call on our students and other stakeholders to key into this initiative.”
“It makes it easier for everyone to operate without having to move with a lot of cash,” Yakasai stated. (NAN)
Nigeria, OPEC Members Agree to Cut Oil Production Volumes
Nigeria and other members of the Oganisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as well as the Non-OPEC members have agreed to cut production volumes to ensure global oil market stability.
The agreement was reached at the 35th Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) meeting of OPEC held in Vienna, Austria on June 4.
Nigerian delegation was led by Amb.Gabriel Aduda, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, who was also confirmed OPEC Governor for Nigeria at the meeting in Vienna.
OPEC and its allies have agreed to cut global oil production by 1.393 million barrels per day, reducing Nigeria’s oil production quota by 20.7 per cent.
Aduda said Nigeria, Congo and Angola agreed that the highest production volumes of the last Six months (November 2022 – April 2023) be used as the basis for the determination of their 2024 production quota.
“This is subject to a review in November at the second annual meeting of the JMMC.
“However, the current OPEC quota would be maintained till the end of 2023.
“This implies that Nigeria can ramp up its production up to its current quota of 1742 Thousand Barrels Per Day (KB/D) and subsequently be capped at 10 per cent less as its quota for 2024 subject to verification by independent secondary sources,” he said.
Aduda expressed confidence that the security intervention under the leadership of President Bola Tinubu, would enable the restoration of Nigeria’s production to the 1580KB/D crude oil only.
This, he said would be complimented by condensate of about 400KB/D ultimately upping Nigeria’s crude oil and condensate production to about Two Million Barrels per day in 2024. (NAN)
Banks’ Borrowing from CBN Hits N7.5trn
Deposit Money Bank (DBMs) and merchant banks borrowing Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) increased to N7.5trillion in the first five months of 2023, an increase of 276 per cent from N1.99 trillion reported in the first five months of 2022.
Data from the CBN showed that DMBs and merchant banks borrowing through the Standing Lending Facility (SLF) witnessed significant increase as banks grappled with the fallout from the new naira notes policy in 2022, among other factors.
Analysis of CBN numbers showed that DMBs and merchant banks’ borrowings from the CBN surged by 276 per cent Year on Year (YoY), signalling that they faced a liquidity squeeze during the period as the country’s demonetisation drive triggered chronic cash shortages.
The CBN lends money to DMBs and merchant banks through the SLF at interest rate of 100 basis points above the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR).
Standing facilities (lending and deposit) are instruments of liquidity management, according to the CBN. They serve as avenues to invest surplus funds overnight and to square up whenever the system is short at the end of each business day.
The apex banking regulating body has SLF, a short-term lending window for DMBs and merchant banks to access liquidity to run their day-to-day business operations.
The CBN had on October 26, 2022 announced that the N200, N500 and N1,000 notes would be redesigned and introduced into the economy from December 15, 2022 while DMBs were directed to return existing denominations to the CBN.
The Governor, CBN, Godwin Emefiele at the first Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) in 2023 had said money market rates oscillated below and within the asymmetric corridor of the standing facilities window, reflecting changing liquidity conditions in the banking system.
“The CBN has been aggressive in its intervention in the first two months of 2023. The CBN’s CRR debit has increased significantly this year when compared to last year. DMBs always visit the SLF window when CBN debit them CRR every two weeks,” Emefiele said.
Meanwhile, analysts attributes the increase in SLF to cash scarcity, stressing that DMBs and merchant banks were no longer enjoying the usual cash deposits that normally come from businesses and individuals that generate significant amount of cash from relationship with various third parties.
AfDB Reiterates Commitment to Support Women-led Enterprises in Africa
The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group has reiterated its commitment towards supporting women-led enterprises on the continent.
The bank in a statement on its website said it will provide grants to small businesses to ensure this was achieved.
“The AfDB’s Gender Equality Trust Fund (GETF) will provide a 950,000 dollars grant to the Africa Small and Medium Enterprise Business Linkages (SMEBL) Programme in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger.
”The grant, which will supplement an earlier 3.9 million dollars financing grant from the Bank’s Transition Support Facility, is expected to bolster 1,400 women-led enterprises.
”It will also contribute to the region’s economic resilience and social cohesion,” it said.
According to the statement, the GETF supports the delivery and scaling of the bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa, (AFAWA) program.
It explained that AFAWA aimed to close the 42 billion dollars gender financing gap for women-led African enterprises by promoting gender-transformative lending and non-lending operations.
The AfDB’s Director for Gender, Women and Civil Society, Malado Kaba, expressed the Bank’s excitement in impacting over a thousand women entrepreneurs across the Sahel region, through this programme.
“We believe one key to building resilient African societies is the inclusion of women in economic development.
”The programme’s wide range of business-related training and coaching, in addition to increasing access to finance will go a long way toward reaching that goal,” she added.
According to Kaba, women entrepreneurs in the Sahel region face significant barriers to accessing finance, markets, and business development services.
She said the Africa SMEBL Programme would provide women entrepreneurs with the tools and resources needed to overcome these barriers and grow their businesses.
”It will also help increase productivity and employment opportunities, especially for young women and men, including offering capacity building in entrepreneurship, core business functions and management training,” she said.
Kaba said the bank’s Gender, Women and Civil Society Department conducted three studies and consulted with Sahel region chambers of commerce to identify women-led businesses to participate in the program.
According to her, AfDB also supports national statistics offices to build more robust, gender-responsive data, which helps measure programme impact.
”The G5 Sahel Union of Chambers of Commerce will administer the programme in collaboration with financial institutions and intermediaries to directly support access to finance for local, small and medium enterprises.
”The Africa (SMEBL) Programme aligns with the AfDB’s 2021-2024 Private Sector Development Strategy, its 2021-2025 Gender Strategy and the 2022-2026 strategy for addressing fragility and building resilience in Africa.
”The Bank Group’s Board of Directors approved the grant on March 23,”Kaba said. (NAN)
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