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CBN Set to Empower Tertiary Students, Releases Guidelines




By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has released the guidelines for the implementation of the Tertiary Institutions Entrepreneurship Scheme (TIES).
The framework, according to the apex bank, was in pursuant to the CBN Act, 2007 and in line with its policy measures to address rising youth unemployment and underemployment.

The CBN stated that the scheme was in partnership with Nigerian polytechnics and universities to harness the potential of graduate entrepreneurs (gradpreneurs) in Nigeria.
It said in the guideline that the scheme is designed to create a paradigm shift among undergraduates and graduates from the pursuit of white-collar jobs to a culture of entrepreneurship development for economic development and job creation.

The initiative, the apex bank stated, aims to provide an innovative financing model that will create jobs, enhance the entrepreneurial ecosystem and support economic growth and development.
TIES has been designed to enhance access to finance by undergraduates and graduates of polytechnics and universities in Nigeria with innovative entrepreneurial and technological ideas.
The guidelines listed activities to be covered under the scheme to include innovative start-ups and existing businesses owned by graduates of Nigerian polytechnics and universities in agribusiness – production, processing, storage and logistics; Information technology – application/software development, business process outsourcing, robotics, data management; and entertainment.
Others are artwork, publishing, culinary/event management, fashion, photography, beauty/cosmetics; and Science and technology – medical innovation, robotics, ticketing systems, traffic systems, renewable energy, as well as, waste management.
The document stated that there would be two classes of participants, with tier 1 receiving N5m with a tenor of five years at five percent interests, (nine per cent ) as from March 2022 and moratorium of 12 months.
It said that Tier 2 candidates could receive as much as N25m under similar terms, adding that the CBN interest payment and principal repayment shall be made on monthly or quarterly basis by the obligor depending on the established cash flow cycle and in line with the approved repayment schedule.
It said that under the scheme five top Nigerian polytechnics and universities with the best entrepreneurial pitches/ideas shall be awarded grants, with the best receiving N150m, while from second to fifth, the grants would be N120m, N100m, N80m and N50m, respectively. 

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Oil Market Defies US-led Coalition’s Strategy to Lower Rising Prices




Despite the United States-led coalition’s strategy to cool oil prices, the market remained steady yesterday, with Brent, Nigeria’s benchmark oil, still above $80 per barrel.

Precisely, Brent crude futures gained seven cents to $82.

32 a barrel yesterday, while the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell marginally by 12 cents, or 0.2 per cent, to $78.27 a barrel, still a far cry from the coalition’s expectations.

Investors are waiting for how major producers respond to the emergency oil release designed to tone down prices, with the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Russia and allies, called OPEC+, expected to meet on December 1st and 2nd to set policy.

But OPEC expects the United States’ release to swell a surplus in oil markets by 1.1 million barrels per day (bpd), a source from the group said, although for now the decision by the coalition has largely backfired.
The United States and other high oil-consuming nations, including China, Britain, India, Japan and South Korea, had on Tuesday made good their threat to counter a slower-than-expected release of oil barrels by OPEC in a coordinated bid to reduce rising crude prices.

OPEC+ producers have repeatedly ignored calls for more crude by the US President, Joe Biden, prompting the country to mobilise a handful of high oil consuming nations to release the commodity from their Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPR).

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Crude oil prices recently touched seven-year highs and although they are still some way short of levels reached between 2011 and 2014, when they broke through $100 a barrel, many consumers are feeling the pain of a dramatic increase from a year ago.

While the US announcement is for a release of 50 million barrels, the equivalent of about two and a half days of the country’s demand, India would release 5 million barrels, while Britain would allow the voluntary release of 1.5 million barrels of oil from privately held reserves, according to the agreement.

OPEC has been struggling to meet existing targets under its agreement to gradually increase production by 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) each month – a pace Washington sees as too slow.

Nigeria, an OPEC member has said that even if prices fall to between $50 to $60, it won’t be much of an issue, with the country’s oil benchmark for the 2021 budget being $40.
The cartel’s situation has been further worsened by the inability of mostly African countries led by Nigeria to meet their allocation, due largely to waning investment, ageing upstream infrastructure and disruptions by some local host communities.

Three sources told Reuters yesterday that OPEC+ was not discussing pausing its oil output increases, despite the decision by the United States, Japan, India and others to release emergency oil stocks.
OPEC members the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait said they were fully committed to the OPEC+ agreement and had no prior stance ahead of next week’s meeting. Nigeria, a strong member of the organisation has always aligned with the decision of the majority.

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Iraq, also an OPEC member, said it backs continuing OPEC+’s existing plan of raising output by 400,000 bpd a month, saying the outlook for the oil market was unclear due to turbulence in global markets.
High oil prices have added to inflationary concerns, with the coordinated release expected to add around 70-80 million barrels of crude supply to markets, according to analysts at Goldman Sachs.
The US Department of Energy had launched an auction to sell 32 million barrels of strategic petroleum reserves(SPR) for delivery between late December to April 2022. It plans to release another 18 million barrels soon.

Some OPEC delegates warned this week that releasing strategic reserves may lead to the alliance holding back crude supply in January, a development that will further starve the market of its much needed supply.
In addition, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has accused Saudi Arabia, Russia and other major energy producers of creating “artificial tightness” in global oil and gas markets, urging OPEC+ to accelerate the return of supplies.

Predictions on the response are mixed. Citigroup Inc. said OPEC+ is likely to stick to its planned increase of 400,000 barrels a day for January because reducing supply would erode the group’s claim of providing public good by stabilising oil markets, while others feel the alliance will suspend the hike to provide a buffer to demand headwinds.

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However, the OPEC advisory body has predicted that the excess in markets would expand by 1.1 million barrels a day in January and February to 2.3 million and 3.7 million a day, respectively. That is, if 66 million barrels are injected by major consumers over the two-month period, according to a document leaked to the public.

If Nigeria keeps to its assurances to ramp up production by the end of this year, according to the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the country would be producing as much as 1.8 million bpd by December ending.ThisDay

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Cooking Gas Hike: FG Worried Over Increasing Demand for Firewood




By Tony Obiechina, Abuja 

Following the spiraling cost of domestic gas in the country, the Federal Government has expressed concerns over increased cutting down of trees as a substitute for cooking gas.

Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, stated this at the weekly ministerial press briefing organized by the Presidential Media Team at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Thursday.

There has been steady rise in the cost of cooking gas with public outcry against the unannounced deregulation in the sub-sector.

The minister who noted that the situation is worrisome to the government, said, “I am extremely worried because the rate of cutting down trees has increased.

 Daily Asset reports that a 12.5kg cylinder is sold for N10,000 depending on the location while the 20 metric tonnes LPG is sold for N11.6million as against N3.8 million which was the price in January.

Nigeria has the ninth largest gas deposit in the world, with over 207 million cubic feet of gas which it flares and wastes every day.

The rising cost of gas has forced many families to adopt alternative source of fuel for cooking with a step back to firewood.

The development has increased tree felling, which are done to enable these trees to get dry preparatory to the production of charcoal or burning them directly.

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On the environmental devastation in the Niger Delta as a result of oil spill, Ikeazor said there are plans to institute stiffer punishments for companies involved in oil spillage in the country.

She also said that the level of devastation in the Niger Delta is massive and has planned to meet stakeholders in Ogoni land on the ongoing clean-up exercise to get their own assessment on how far government has gone.

According to her, the ministry is engaging other relevant government agencies to achieve this.

She pointed out that a bill is being worked out to amend the law establishing the National Oil Spillage Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) to build its capacity and give it “the needed teeth to bite.”

She said the operating company of the OML29 in Nembe, Bayelsa state has blamed the most recent oil spillage in the country on sabotage by the locals.

She however announced that the Santa Barbara spillage has been brought under control after weeks the incident occurred with necessary personnel and equipment deployed to begin recovery and remediation efforts.

Ikeazor stressed the need to put an end to artisanal refineries, which she said had continued to cause pollution in the Niger Delta.

The minister also lamented the high rate of deaths from smoke especially among women in the country, which she noted is the highest in the world.

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She said something must be done about the ongoing gas flaring, noting that the country cannot be committed to zero net emission and be flaring gas at the same time.

She said government is working hard and creating alternative for the people in the devastated Niger Delta area in order to move them away from further polluting the environment.

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Emefiele Inaugurates N500m Youth Entrepreneurs’ Scheme




Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, yesterday launched the apex bank’s N500 million Tertiary Institutions Entrepreneurship Scheme (TIES).

Speaking at the launch of the scheme in Abuja, Emefiele said the intervention would create an enabling business environment that supports innovation.

It would also enable the youth to unleash their entrepreneurial potential, by redirecting their focus from seeking white-collar jobs to embracing a culture of entrepreneurship, he said.

The initiative, which the CBN governor hinted at earlier this year, was expected to boost entrepreneurship in higher institutions of learning.

Emefiele stressed the need for the environment to provide support in re-orientating, training, and providing a financing model apt to the peculiarities of the sector within which the businesses operate.
He urged government at all levels to evolve policy measures to support entrepreneurial development among the youth in the country. The CBN governor said this was particularly crucial given that about 600,000 students graduate yearly from Nigerian tertiary institutions without commensurate employment opportunities in both the public and private sectors.

Emefiele said the essence of the intervention was to create a paradigm shift from the obsession for white-collar jobs among graduates and promote entrepreneurship. He said the CBN was particularly concerned about the current level of unemployment among the youth population.
He explained that the intervention consisted of three main components, including term loan, equity investment, and development grant.

Emefiele said the scheme would make it easy for youths to access credit and create jobs for themselves and others. He warned that the finance to be provided was not a grant but a loan, which should be used for the intended purposes.

He said entrepreneurship remained an integral part of any economy, adding that entrepreneurs play a key role in driving growth and innovation, which in turn results in job creation.

Emefiele said in line with its mandate of ensuring monetary and price stability, and its developmental mandate of ensuring inclusive growth in the economy, the central bank had introduced several programmes to create an ecosystem that allowed the flow of affordable credit to the real sector.

He added that these interventions were industry-led and designed to support the resilience of targeted priority sectors and segments for growth and job creation.

He explained, “With an estimated population of 213 million, out of which two-third are youth, aged under 35 years, the nation is faced with a historic opportunity, particularly as the demography continues to create clear evidence of their relevance to economic development, as accentuated by the global recognition of Nigerian tech start-ups and continued growth of businesses in the technology space owned by the youth.
“In realisation of this, the CBN has introduced several innovative financing programmes designed to extend low-cost financing to youth entrepreneurs across the country.

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“These interventions have continued to receive resounding commendations, as they have proven effective in extending credit to youth entrepreneurs across the country.”

Essentially, he said TIES was conceived as part of measures to promote entrepreneurship development among the graduate and undergraduate youths of Nigerian polytechnics and universities, with the release of the implementation guidelines and the opening of a portal for submission of applications in October 2021.
The scheme aims at providing an innovative financing model that will support the development of innovative entrepreneurial ideas among graduates and undergraduates of tertiary institutions in the country, the CBN governor said.

The ceremony also witnessed the inauguration of the Body of Experts (BoE) by the CBN governor. The body, chaired by the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive, Sterling Bank Plc, Mr. Abubakar Suleiman, among other professionals, seeks to evaluate and rank entrepreneurial presentations made by the tertiary institutions under the development (grant) component.

Emefiele said members of the body were professionals of impeccable standing, drawn from the academia, professional bodies, and industry. He said part of their job was to recommend projects with high potential and transformational impact for grant awards.

Other members of the BoE include Chief Financial Officer, First Bank Plc, Mr. Patrick Iyamabo; Mr. Adamu Lawani (Zenith Bank Plc); Ms. Ngover Ihyembe-Nwankwo (Rand Merchant Bank); Mr. Ashafa Ladan (National Universities Commission); Mr. Abbati D.K. Muhammad (National Board for Technical Education); Dr. Friday Okpara of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN); Mr. Tope Fasua (Global Analytics Consulting); Brigadier-General Folusho Oyinlola (National Defence College); and Ms. Bolanle Adekoya (PWC). Mrs. Temitope Akin-Fadeyi of the CBN is the body’s secretary.

Emefiele said the official launch of the TIES and subsequent inauguration of the BoE for the scheme’s development component was a testimony to the important role the youth play in building new blocks for economic growth, particularly as national growth was highly dependent on strong and competitive businesses.
He said bridging their financing gaps and enhancing access to low-cost credit to drive development of business was a task that could only be addressed by an innovative financing model that correlates with the complexity and dynamics of these small businesses.

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Emefiele said the scheme was designed to address three verticals of the segment namely, term loan component, which provides direct credit opportunities to graduates of Nigerian polytechnics and universities of not more than seven years post-graduation.

He said an applicant, if successful, should be eligible for a maximum of N5 million for an individual, sole-proprietorship or small company; and a maximum of N25 million for a partnership or company.
The tenure of the facility is a maximum of five years, with a one-year moratorium, and at an interest of five per cent per annum, which shall revert to nine per cent from March 2022.

The pilot phase of the scheme is presently being implemented through the Bank of Industry (BOI) with the development of an application portal and processing of submitted applications.
The equity investment component is designed to support start-ups, existing businesses requiring expansion, and ailing businesses seeking resuscitation, and shall be implemented under the bank’s AGSMEIS equity window.

The investment limit shall be subject to the limit prescribed by the AGSMEIS guidelines and the investment period not more than 10 years.
Emefiele also noted that the development grant component was aimed at raising awareness and visibility of entrepreneurship among undergraduates of Nigerian tertiary institutions. He explained that here, polytechnics and universities in the country shall compete in a national biennial entrepreneurship competition where undergraduates are presented by the tertiary institutions to pitch innovative entrepreneurial or technological ideas with transformational potential.

According to him, three top institutions at the regional levels shall proceed to the national level, where the top five shall be awarded grants ranging between N120 million and N250 million.
He insisted that the grant awards should be used by the tertiary institutions solely for the development of the award-willing ideas.

Further commenting on the genesis of the scheme, Emefiele said, “As you are all aware, at the occasion of the 51st convocation of the University of Lagos, in July 2021, I delivered the convocation lecture, titled, “National Development and Knowledge Economy in the Digital Age: Leapfrogging SMEs into the 21st Century.”
“At that event, I promised that the central bank would seek fresh collaboration with the nation’s tertiary institutions to develop entrepreneurship programmes, and to support – through the provision of access to finance – graduates and undergraduates who have bankable ideas, to bring the ideas to fruition.

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“Engagements have been on-going between the central bank and the leadership of some of our tertiary institutions regarding the framework for an innovative financing model that will support entrepreneurship development among our graduates and undergraduates.
“This launch of the Tertiary Institutions Entrepreneurship Scheme today, is a culmination of the engagements and fulfilment of that promise.”

Highlights of the event included the presentation of commemorative cheques to five youth entrepreneurs whose proposals were found worthy of CBN’s financing under the pilot scheme.

Speaking during the launch of the initiative, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, hailed the efforts of the central bank to ensure that the economy remained afloat despite the disruptions occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Represented by the Director, Public Affairs and Bilateral Relations, Office of the SGF, Mr. Olakunle Fashina, Mustapha said, not only would the TIES boost economic growth and reduce graduate unemployment but it would also provide well-grounded incentives for the ever-growing graduate population.

He urged the tertiary institutions to deploy merit in the selection of the proposed beneficiaries of the scheme as well as monitor key performance indicators as applications are submitted.

Speaking at the occasion also, Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, described the intervention as a laudable effort by Emefiele to promote entrepreneurial skills in the ivory towers. He said the CBN was playing a significant role in laying a solid foundation for technological development in the tertiary institutions.

The minister, who was represented by the ministry’s Director, University Education, Mrs. Rakiya Iliyasu, he said no country could make appreciable growth in sound technological innovation and sustainable development without focusing on the base, which is the institutions responsible for training the students in the fields of agribusiness, information technology, creative industries among others.
He said it was on record that the scheme was designed to create a paradigm shift among graduates from the pursuit of white-collar jobs to entrepreneurship geared towards job creation and economic growth. ThisDay

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