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Reps to Seek Maritime Bank Establishment to Grow Shipping Sector – Dasuki

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From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos

To address some of the challenges hampering business growth in the shipping segment of Nigeria’s maritime and blue economy, the House of Representatives has promised to facilitate the establishment of a maritime bank.

Chairman of the House Committee on Shipping Services, Abdulsalam Dasuki, gave the assurance Thursday during the committee’s oversight visit to the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) in Lagos.

Dasuki, who was responding to the challenges listed by the council, including capital flight, as affecting the shipping and port segment, said the committee would “look into the possibility of championing the maritime bank.

“The maritime sector – key players and ship owners – will have their own bank. The whole idea is to stop the capital flight we currently have in the maritime sector.

“I believe we are going to have not only the support of the House of Representatives but the entire National Assembly to make sure that this is done.

“Also, we are going to have the ship owners, together with your (NSC) team to see how we can improve the services for the ship owners in Nigeria, and that sitting will be done as soon as possible.”

Stating that the bill to make NSC the true regulator has passed the second reading, Dasuki assured that public hearing on the “all-important bill that we believe will be the catalyst for changing our economy” will hold soon.

According to him, “the challenges have been highlighted; the expectations from this agency and other maritime-related agencies, I believe, can do much better when that law is passed.”

However, the committee asked for further briefing on one of the expected provisions in the bill – the 1% freight stabilisation fund – at the budget defence.

Moreover, “we have taken note of the current issues happening with the Ministry of Finance with regards to your 50% revenue generation, which you highlighted as not a revenue-generating agency.

“I believe you have the relevant support from us to ensure that you get all these funds that are due to your agency.

“After getting the funds, we will expect you in return to deliver more and do what is expected by bringing more money to Nigeria.

“I am happy that you vowed that the Nigerian Shippers Council is going to ensure that Nigeria’s GDP will grow based on your contributions by the end of 2024.

“I will like to encourage you to do more; let us put our words into action so that by the time we are here for another oversight, we should be having good figures coming up based on some of the resolutions that we are going to make.

Earlier, the agency, while listing the many challenges  arising from the absence of a legislation empowering it as the Port Economic Regulator, had disclosed in its presentation that it saved N33,116,861,421.99 billion from capital flight.

The NSC Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Akuta Pius Ukeyima, stated that the added role of port economic regulator places more work on the agency to regulate the sector.

This is especially with the creation of the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy with the mindset “to diversify the Nigerian economy from purely crude oil to other sectors beyond crude oil export and import.

“By this mandate, we are required to, more than ever before, facilitate trade and ensure the efficiency of all the ports operating in Nigeria, so that business will thrive and Nigeria will make money.”

Banking on the support of the committee for a speedy passage of the enabling bill, Akuta said: “We now have a committee that is centred purely on shipping services in the House of Representative.

“We believe that our close collaboration and cooperation will see the rapid development of the sector.

“We believe at the Shippers’ Council that at the end of 2024, if we have not contributed to the national GDP by way of our activities, in terms of naira and kobo, we have not achieved any result.

“We are counting on you to give us the massive protection that will push us forward to achieving all of that.

“The bill (to make the NSC the port economic regulator) is needed to push this agency to attain all of the objectives set before us. Without that, it will be very difficult for us to even navigate our ways.”

Justifying the imperative of the passage of the bills, the NSC disclosed that it sanitised the joint boarding of vessels and joint cargo examination by all relevant agencies, taking it from 120 to an average of 230 boxes daily.

It also saved the country N58,422,884 billion as over 95% of vessels that called at the Nigerian ports and terminals from March 2023 to date left without incidents.

More so, it saved N6138,288,645,019 billion in five years through the port service support portal, through which it received complaints against arbitrary charges, container deposit refund, import and export fund, among others.

Likewise, it saved N167,113,819,613,56 billion through tariff negotiations, among others.

Economy

Naira Makes Huge Recovery, Gains 7.2% Against Dollar

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The Naira on Friday experienced huge appreciation at the official market, trading at N1,142.38 to the dollar.

Data from the official trading platform of the FMDQ Exchange, a platform that oversees the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market (NAFEM), revealed that the Naira gained N88.

23.

This represents a 7.16 per cent gain when compared to the previous trading date on Monday, April 8, exchanging at N1,230.

61 to a dollar before the Sallah holiday.

The total daily turnover increased to $281.34 million on Friday up from $125.55 million recorded on Monday.

Meanwhile, at the Investor’s and Exporter’s (I&E) window, the Naira traded between N1,265 and N1,100 against the dollar.

Economic experts have continued to praise both fiscal and monetary policies of President Bola Tinubu’s administration responsible for the steady Naira appreciation.

The CBN, during its policy meetings held in February and March, implemented a total of 600 basis points in interest rate increases.

This helped tackle dollar scarcity, reduced volatility, and decreased reliance on parallel markets. (NAN)

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Business News

Afreximbank Closes $282 million India-focused Club Deal

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja 

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has announced the successful completion of a first-of-its-kind India-focussed club deal for US$282.00 million.

Initiated for the exclusive participation of Indian lenders, and arranged by Bank of Africa UK PLC, the primary syndicated club deal saw participation from Indian lenders through their overseas branches and subsidiaries in the Dubai International Financial Centre in the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Mauritius.

The facility, which was backed by six participating banks and financial institutions, including five that joined as first-time lenders to Afreximbank, helping the Bank achieve its objective of diversifying its funding sources, carries a three-year tenor.

At a commemorative event held in Dubai, U.A.E., to mark the conclusion of the deal, Haytham ElMaayergi, Executive Vice President at Afreximbank, said that the conclusion of the initiative represented a major milestone for the Bank as it sought to fulfil the key objectives of its funding programme.

Highlighting the importance of investing in, and for, Africa, Mr. ElMaayergi said: “this facility will help Afreximbank to continue to play a major role in the development of intra-African trade and trade between Africa and the rest of the world, particularly with India. 

It is a testament to the rapid growth in Africa’s economic relationship with India and is evidence of Afreximbank’s growing ability to harness resources into Africa and to fund trade finance related investments that would have a positive impact on trade between Africa and India.”

Chandi Mwenebungu, Director and Group Treasurer of Afreximbank, reviewing the Bank’s vision for Africa, said that its funding objectives included achieving the diversification of its liability book by geography, investor type and tenor.

Also addressing guests at the event were Said Adren, CEO of Bank of Africa UK PLC, who thanked the lenders for their participation, and Zineb Tamtaoui, General Manager of Bank of Africa, Dubai Branch, who expressed appreciation for the opportunity to put together “a landmark deal that would be a stepping stone to many India-focused club deals going forward.”

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Business News

Geregu Power Earns N50.4bn From Electricity Sales, Capacity Charges 

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja 

Geregu Power Plc has generated N50.4bn on electricity sales and capacity charges to Nigerians in the first quarter of 2024.

The power company which is the first listed power company of the Nigerian Exchange Ltd disclosed the performance in its Q1, 2024 financial statement.

The company grew its Q1 revenue by 225 per cent from N14.

2bn in 2023 to N50.
4bn in 2023.

A breakdown reveals that Geregu Power sold energy worth N31bn and received N19bn as revenue from capacity charge.

Recall that the power company posted an annual revenue of N82.9bn in the full year of 2023 but it has covered half of the amount in Q1.

The revenue was above the company’s forecast for Q1 2024 when it projected its revenue to rise to N31.24bn.

Geregu Power recorded a profit before tax of N21.9bn up from the N5.3bn recorded in Q1 of last year, reflecting 307.8 per cent growth.

During the period underreview, the company saw its profit after tax rose by 307.3 per cent to N14.46bn from N3.54bn recorded in Q1 of last year. In the full year 2023, the company made N16.1bn net profit.

The net profit was above the company projection of N5.5bn. 

Geregu Power took an income tax charge of N7.43bn, up from the N1.8bn in Q1 2023. The tax charges were higher than the N2.7bn projected for Q1 2024.

The company also spent N21.5bn on the cost of sales involving gas supply and transportation, up from the N6.6bn spent on gas supply and transportation in Q1 2023.

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