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We’re Tackling Challenges Undermining Businesses, Investments – Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari
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President Muhammadu Buhari has urged entrepreneurs and investors to channel ideas and resources into areas of the economy that stimulate growth, with long-term effect on job creation and poverty reduction. 

The president, who stated this when he received Chairman of Dangote Industries Ltd, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, and Board members of the Group at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Friday, assured that fixing infrastructure remained government’s top priority.

 The president said the challenges in transportation and energy would continue to attract attention for a turnaround.

He, therefore, urged entrepreneurs in the country and foreign investors to focus on areas that would leave lasting legacies of transforming lives.

 “Mr Chairman, Let me again, thank you and your board for the courage and foresight that enabled you to embark on these mega investment projects which will have enduring benefits to generations of Nigerians. 

“Entrepreneurs such as Alhaji Aliko Dangote are unique gifts to their societies and the institutions they build, and they often become the pillars of stable enduring prosperous economies. “I, therefore, urge other Nigerians in the business sector to emulate this iconic entrepreneur by investing in such enterprises that will in time become worthy legacies as national assets which will continue to benefit their people for generation after generation, creating firm anchors of enduring prosperity for their citizens,’’ he said. 

The president told the delegation, which was on a courtesy visit, that reforms were already going on in the public sector to reposition it into a more effective and result oriented engine room that will encourage more investments. “I am keenly aware of the many challenges in the business environment and the investment climate despite the sustained efforts by this government to bring about improvements. “I want to assure you, however, that Government will do everything possible to enhance the development in infrastructure, especially in energy and transportation sectors. “We will also continue to implement needed reforms in the public service to significantly improve the ease of doing business,’’ he said.

Buhari lauded Dangote for always investing in areas that bring the highest benefits to Nigerians. “I recall, with great pleasure, my visit to the Dangote Free Zone just about four weeks ago, to commission the Group’s new 3 million metric ton fertilizer plant. “Let me, once again, congratulate you and your Board for a very successful commissioning ceremony. “As I said at that event, the coming on stream of this plant was a huge opportunity to ramp up the productivity of our agricultural sector.

“It is, therefore, a most welcome booster to our government’s strategy for achieving food security and reducing poverty. “Given recent developments globally, especially the effect of the ongoing war in Europe on world-wide food supply chain, I must commend your foresight for bringing the plant into operation at the time you did. “I note that market realities will bring pressure to bear on Dangote Fertilizer Limited in seeking to meet the demands of your export customers. “However, given your group’s well known patriotic vision, I am confident that your Board will continue to accord priority to meeting local demands of our farmers,’’ the president noted.

Buhari also commended the Dangote Group for extending investments to other African countries, while highlighting the vision behind the refinery.“Mr Chairman, I must specially commend you and your Board for the development of the Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical complex. “I had a good view of this incredible city of steel and concrete when my helicopter circled over it during my visit for the commissioning of the fertilizer plant,’’ he added.

In his remarks, the Chairman of Dangote Industries Ltd, said the Board was at the State House to express profound appreciation to the president for the great honour to the Dangote Group when he inaugurated the new 3m MTPD Fertilizer plant.

The plant was the latest subsidiary company of the Dangote Fertilizer Ltd. Dangote said: “We also seize the opportunity to reiterate our immense gratitude for the sustained effort of your administration through various policy initiatives aimed at progressively improving the business environment and investment climate, in spite of some unprecedented challenges our economy has been confronted with over the past decade.

“We are also deeply grateful for your direct interventions at various times when our operations were challenged by some unintended consequences of economic policy positions. “Your interventions have not only helped to resolve business challenges, but have been a source of great encouragement in our determination to continue to invest in our economy  for the benefit of our country and our people.’’

According to Dangote, the Board looks forward to the return of President Buhari to inaugurate the Oil Refineries and Petrochemicals project, which would transform the Nigerian economy. “Through the outputs of our various businesses, our Group is proud to be making significant contributions to the diversification and growth of our nation’s economy, which is second only to Federal Government in the size of our workforce,’’ he added.

He expressed the hope that with more investments in agriculture and Oil and Gas sectors more impact will be made on the economy. Dangote submitted that the group of industries will always hold on to the president’s mantra on the economy to “produce what we consume and consume what we produce.’’ (NAN)

BUSINESS

Nigeria’s GDP Grows by 3.46% In 4th Quarter, 2023 – NBS

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

The nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 3.46% (year-on-year) in real terms in the fourth quarter of 2023, according to the latest report from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

NBS revealed that the growth rate was lower than the 3.

52% recorded in the fourth quarter of 2022, but higher than the third quarter of 2023 growth of 2.
54%.

The Bureau said, the performance of the GDP in the fourth quarter of 2023 was driven mainly by the Services sector, which recorded a growth of 3.98% and contributed 56.55% to the aggregate GDP.

According to the report, the agriculture sector grew by 2.10%, from the growth of 2.

05% recorded in the fourth quarter of 2022.

The report put the growth of the industry sector at 3.86%, an improvement from -0.94% recorded in the fourth quarter of 2022.

NBS said, in terms of share of the GDP, industry, and the services sectors contributed more to the aggregate GDP in the fourth quarter of 2023 compared to the fourth quarter of 2022.

It however, said, on an annual basis, the GDP grew by 2.74% in 2023 relative to 3.10% in 2022.

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Local Content: NCDMB Holds Knowledge-Sharing Session with Mozambique

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From Mike Tayese, Yenagoa

In keeping with Nigeria’s leadership role in the development of Local Content in Africa, the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) has concluded a two-day Local Content development experience-sharing session with a delegation from Mozambique’s national oil company, Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos (ENH).

The engagement was held on the sidelines of the 8th Sub-Saharan Africa International Petroleum Exhibition & Conference, in Lagos.

NCDMB’s delegation was led by the Executive Secretary, Engr.

Felix Omatsola Ogbe, while Mozambique’s team was led by the Chairman of Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos, Mr.
Estevao Rafeal Pale.

The experience-sharing session was facilitated by Aberdeen Global Strategies & Solutions, under the leadership of Dr. Mark Osa Igiehon, who consults for ENH Mozambique.

In his introductory comments, the Executive Secretary conveyed NCDMB’s commitment to supporting African oil-producing nations in developing and implementing local content policies as a strategy for improving indigenous participation and value optimization from hydrocarbons and mineral resources.

He lauded the giant strides recorded by Mozambique in its gas sector and advised against repeating the mistakes made by Nigeria in the early years of its oil and gas industry.

Represented by the Director of Monitoring and Evaluation, NCDMB, Mr. Abdulmalik Halilu, the Executive Secretary explained that every oil and gas-producing nation must choose to either focus on optimizing revenue generation or maximizing in-country value from the activities of the industry.

He stated that the revenue generation option encourages oil and gas operators to seek the cheapest and fastest route to first oil, while the Government collects maximum revenue in the form of taxes and royalties for development and pays little attention to value addition from industry operations.

He explained that the alternative option focuses on maximizing in-country value and promoting the development and use of local capacities. This model obligates operators in the industry to consider long-term value, while the Government takes lower revenue in exchange for higher in-country value and pays greater attention to life-cycle support for operators.

Speaking further, the NCDMB boss listed key parameters that are critical to in-country value addition and growth of the oil and gas sector on a sustainable basis. These factors are Regulatory Framework, Gap Analysis, Capacity Building, Funding and Incentives, Research and Development, and Access to Market.

He hinted that a Local Content policy backed with appropriate legislation is very fundamental in local content practice, adding that baseline and periodic gap analyses are essential to determine gaps that need to be closed in the areas of skills, facilities and infrastructure.

He also stressed the need to develop in-country capacities and capabilities and utilise them through oil and gas projects.

The knowledge-sharing programme also featured a presentation on Funds and Funding of NCDMB, delivered by the Director of Finance and Personnel Management, NCDMB, Dr. Obinna Ofili.

The Director was represented by the Head, Credit Analysis and Risk Management, Mrs. Chika Enwerem–Okidi, and underlined the need for dedicated funding that would be applied to developing local content in the oil sector.

The Director mentioned that the Nigerian Content Development Fund (NCDF) is provided for in section 104 of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act and is contributed by 1% of every contract awarded in the upstream section of the oil and gas industry.

He added that the NCDF has been deployed in several successful projects, including the building of human and material capacities, the $350 million Nigerian Content Intervention Fund, the ongoing development of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Parks Scheme (NOGAPS), the construction of the NCDMB 17-story corporate headquarters, and 3rd party investments, many of which created jobs for Nigerians and yield interest for the Board.

The second day of the knowledge-sharing programme featured presentations on the operating framework for planning, research and statistics, capacity building, projects certification and authorization and monitoring and evaluation.

The Director of Projects Certification and Authorization, Engr. Abayomi Bamidele highlighted NCDMB’s role in the award of contracts for oil and gas projects and how opportunities are captured for the local economy, using the Nigerian Content Plan and the Contracting Strategy submitted by operating companies for the Board’s review and approval.

He underlined that local content should be promoted as a national agenda for every country and the right data must be collected to establish current realities and gaps to the target.

He emphasised the need for in-country capacity building based on areas of strengths and weaknesses as well as continuous projects to keep the developed capacities engaged.

The knowledge-sharing programme was very interactive and the Mozambican officials sought clarifications on the Board’s model of enforcing Local Content Compliance, monitoring projects, supervising third-party investments, and many other areas.

The programme was convened in line with the Sectorial and Regional Market Linkage Pillar of the Nigerian Content 10-year strategic roadmap. The roadmap requires NCDMB to support other African oil-producing countries and to develop new markets and partnership opportunities for the benefit of competent Nigerian operating and oil service companies.

NCDMB has provided similar guidance to numerous African nations, including Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda.

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NAICOM, Ministry Collaborate on Youth Career Development, Entrepreneurship

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Tony Obiechina, Abuja

The Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Youth Development Mr. Ayodele Olawande paid a courtesy visit to the Commissioner for Insurance Mr. Olorundare Sunday at NAICOM’s headquarters in Abuja.

The purpose of the visit was to discuss potential collaboration opportunities between the Ministry and NAICOM in advancing youth development initiatives, particularly in the areas of financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and career development.

The Commissioner for Insurance in his remarks welcomed the Minister and gave a brief history and overview of the Nigerian insurance industry, the administrative structure of the Commission as well as its achievements in the area of financial inclusion, transition to risk-based supervision and IFRS 17, setting up of the West African Insurance Supervisors Association and the College of Insurance Supervisors of the West African Monetary Zone.

The Minister for State in his remarks thanked the NAICOM Management for the warm reception. He expressed his desire for the Ministry to collaborate with NAICOM in engaging the Nigerian youth formally and informally to develop their skills.

He noted that the Ministry had developed a digital platform (app) called Nigerian Youth Academy (NIYA) where Nigerian youth could learn vocational and digital skills.

He requested to collaborate with NAICOM in the building of insurance educational module to be uploaded on the NIYA platform as this will go a long way in training the youths and improve their level of financial literacy, help in entrepreneurship and job creation, career development and sensitise youth on the benefits of insurances.

The CFI promised to convey the Minister’s request to relevant parties (The Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria and the College of Insurance and Financial Management) within the Nigerian Insurance Industry.

NAICOM Boss Olorundare Sunday (r) with the Minister of State for Youth Development, Mr. Ayodele Olawande during a courtesy visit

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