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The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, said it has been mandated by the Federal Government to make meaningful efforts in stimulating the country’s economic growth and development yesterday.

This is even as stakeholders in the gas sector charged the Federal Government to develop its gas reserves to achieve efficiency in power supply across Nigeria.

Group Managing Director, NNPC, Mr. Maikanti Baru, disclosed this during a Gas Roundtable organised by Nigerian Gas Association, NGA, for Chief Executives and Directors of oil and gas companies, where he was named the Pioneer Advisory Board Chairman of the association.

He disclosed that the directive was to ensure that gas infrastructure development was enhanced for gas supply, stressing that this was a critical focus area in the Federal Government’s 2016-2019 ‘Big Wins’ for the oil and gas industry as well as in the NNPC’s 12 Key Business Focus Areas to grow the industry.

He noted that the Nigerian gas sector remained the largest and most vibrant in sub-Saharan Africa with lots of potentials, especially in the deep water and untapped gas resources.

He asserted that the gas reform was anchored on a robust strategic framework that is focused on maximum economic impact through gas, saying that it aims to drive linkages with agriculture, manufacturing and dispersed small enterprise through power.

Also speaking, President of NGA, Dada Thomas, said for the Nigerian economy to achieve its full potential, there must be power anchored on gas development through active private sector participation.

In his welcome address, he noted that gas development was the key to unlocking a better future for Nigeria.

He explained that “we believe that gas equals power. Economy diversification is a simple equation, and it means ‘No gas, No power.’ Gas remains the basis to diversify our economy.”


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Former US president Barack Obama has selected New-York based artist, Kehinde Wiley, to paint his official portrait. 

Kehinde Wiley is known for lush, larger-than-life portraits that overlay black street culture with European classical motifs. He is believed to be an exciting choice for the presidential portrait. Throughout his career, Kehinde has become renowned for creating portraits of African American men, including the Notorious B.I.G., LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, Ice T, Grand master Flash and the Furious Five, Michael Jackson, and more.

Kehinde was born to a Nigerian dad and an African-American mom. He did not grow up with his father, so at the age of 20, he traveled to Nigeria to explore his roots and meet him.

Kehinde's mother supported his interest in art and enrolled him in after-school art classes when he was a child. He earned his BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1999 and his MFA from Yale University, School of Art in 2001.

Following a tradition that started with George H. Bush, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery commissions an artist to create a portrait of the president and the first lady after their tenure. Obama’s predecessors have preferred to sit for 90-year old portrait artist Everett Raymond Kinstler, who has painted eight US presidents, but Obama chose to go with Kehinde. The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery made the announcement yesterday.

Former first lady Michelle Obama has chosen Baltimore-based painter Amy Sherald to paint her portrait. Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald will be the first black artists to create official presidential portraits for the Smithsonian.


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Coca-Cola Company’s Nigerian operation will invest $600m by 2020 to boost sales, in line with a global strategy to extend the product range beyond its soft drinks.

The unit of the Atlanta-based beverage maker plans to expand its offering of drinks to include flavoured and condensed milk, iced tea and bottled water to meet demand in Africa’s most populous country, the President of the West Africa operation, Peter Njonjo, said in an interview with Bloomberg, adding, “Our objective is to provide whatever beverages you need across your life stages.”

The money is part of a pledge by Coca-Cola to invest $17bn in Africa by 2020. The Global Chief Executive Officer, Coca-Cola Company, James Quincey, has said the company needs to grow beyond its biggest brand and has called for the soda giant to become a “total beverage company,” being less reliant on carbonated soft drinks.

Last year, Coca-Cola bought a 40 per cent stake in Nigerian juice and dairy company, Chi Limited, for $240m and said at the time that it intended to take total control within three years.

Coca-Cola has felt the pinch of an economic slump in Nigeria caused by a decline in output and prices of oil, the nation’s main foreign exchange earner, and dollar shortages. The economy expanded by 0.6 per cent in the three months through June, ending five straight quarters of contractions that saw gross domestic product shrink by 1.6 per cent in 2016, the first time since 1991.High inflation increased production costs, while the price of imported goods rose due to the dollar scarcity, just as consumers had less money to spend, Njonjo said.

Coca-Cola Nigeria, which has 3,600 direct employees, 11 bottling plants and 30 distribution depots across the country, is not listed in the West African nation and Njonjo declined to share details on production capacity or earnings.

After peaking at 18.7 per cent in January, the inflation rate fell to 16 per cent in August, while food prices have continued to surge.

This is “a big issue,” for Coca-Cola, present in Nigeria since 1951, Njonjo said. “As disposable incomes start getting under pressure, expenditure in products like ours start becoming inaccessible to most consumers,” he added.

In response to the challenges in Nigeria, Coca-Cola increased prices, introduced new product sizes and sought more inputs locally. To reduce its foreign exchange exposure, the company plans to raise to 75 per cent the share of raw materials produced locally by 2020, from 70 per cent currently, Njonjo said.

Recent moves by the Central Bank of Nigeria to improve dollar availability have had a “positive impact” and the company is able again to import before it runs out of stock, he said.

“The only way that you can ensure that the business is sustainable is by taking prices up. Some of it we have passed to the consumers,” Njonjo stated. The soda maker has also increased investment in distribution and innovation. “It’s all about looking at how much money consumers have and how do I become relevant to the consumers,” he added.

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Nigeria took a step to unify its multiple exchange rates by allowing banks to use a currency window for investors when quoting the naira rather than the official rate. The naira weakened on the interbank market.

FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange, the Lagos-based platform that oversees interbank trading, asked lenders this week to publish quotes reflecting trades in the Investors’ and Exporters’ FX Window, according to Ecobank Transnational Inc. and Access Bank Plc. The window was opened in late April in a bid to attract inflows to the dollar-starved nation.

The interbank rate weakened 14 percent to 366.04 per dollar as of 5:42 p.m. in Lagos, close to 367.08 for the so-called Nafex rate, the daily fixing published by FMDQ for the Investors’ & Exporters’ FX window. Naira three-month forward contracts based on the official rate rose as much as 1.3 percent to 342 against the greenback, the highest level on a closing basis since June 6.

“FMDQ and traders reached agreement to try to move toward a single exchange rate,” Kunle Ezun, an analyst at Ecobank in Lagos, said by phone. The idea is “to show the true reflection of the naira in the market. The I&E window in terms of transparency and price discovery seems to reflect where the naira should trade. All banks are now putting quotes at that rate.”

Nigeria has faced dollar shortages since the price of oil, its main export, crashed in 2014 and the central bank responded by tightening capital controls. As the squeeze worsened, Nigeria opted for a system of multiple exchange rates rather than floating its currency like other crude producers such as Russia and Kazakhstan.

The change this week was made because banks have been trading with each other mainly via the Nafex market since its introduction, according to Bola Onadele, FMDQ’s chief executive.

Banks “should quote where naira is trading with integrity and transparency,” he said in a text message.

While the move will be welcomed by investors, who have long criticized the existence of several exchange rates, a full unification may still be some way off, according to Standard Chartered Plc. The central bank maintains an official rate as strong as 305 per dollar, which is uses to ensure fuel importers get cheap dollars.

“It is probably a positive step toward greater transparency in the FX market,” said Samir Gadio, head of Africa strategy at Standard Chartered in London. But “exchange rate unification across the board could imply higher fuel prices, or larger implicit subsidies, which will require national consensus. So it is not a straightforward step.”


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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on Tuesday, barred First Bank, the United Bank for Africa(UBA)  and 12 others from dealing in the Small and Medium Entreprises (SME) wholesale Forex window.

The other banks affected by the order are  FCMB, Keystone Bank, Main Street Bank, Stanbic IBTC, Citi Bank, Enterprise Bank, Ecobank, WEMA Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, Union Bank, SunTrust Bank and Standard Chartered Bank .

The CBN spokesman, Isaac Okorafor, in a statement in Abuja, said they were barred, following persistent complaints that some Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) deliberately frustrate efforts by many SMEs to access forex from the new window created by CBN.

He said the financial regulator took the decision to bar the banks based on field reports, which revealed that only eight banks out of 22 had sold forex to the SMEs segment since the inception of the new window. He added that the CBN frowned at the action of banks that declined to sell foreign exchange to SMEs to enable them import eligible finished and semi-finished items despite the availability of forex from the CBN.

He listed the banks not barred to include: Access Bank Plc, Diamond Bank Plc, Fidelity Bank, Heritage Bank, Jaiz Bank, Sterling Bank, Unity Bank and Zenith Bank.

He urged all stakeholders to play by the rules for the benefit of the entire country and its economy.


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The Agricultural Products and Equipment Manufacturers in Nigeria has stated that in 18 months, with the support of the Federal Government and effective implementation of the ban on importation of tomato paste, Nigeria will be able to produce enough tomato paste for local consumption and export.

The President of the association and Chairman of Erisco Foods Limited, Chief Eric Umeofia, stated this on Wednesday in Lagos during a press briefing.

While commending the Federal Government on the recent ban on importation of tomato paste, Umeofia stressed the need to ensure strict implementation of the policy in order to guard against influx of smuggled tomato paste.

He advised the government to support tomato farmers with quality seeds, preservation technology and funds so that they could produce enough to feed the local processing plants.

The APEMAN president said that his processing plant, for instance, had an installed capacity of 56 trailers of tomato paste a day, adding that he was producing less than 20 per cent of the capacity.

“If we can meet 80 per cent capacity, we will be able to export our products,” he added.

He also stressed the need to support local manufacturers with low interest rate loans such as five per cent per annum, instead of the prevailing interest rate, which was not encouraging borrowers.

He added that the government needed to set up a panel that could visit genuine manufacturers in Nigeria in order to know their challenges and ways of mitigating them.

Umeofia, who expressed doubts about the genuineness of some manufacturers, alleged that some importers were hiding under the cover of manufacturing to flood the market with substandard imports.

“The real manufacturers in this country make up two per cent of the sector; 98 per cent are importers masquerading as manufacturers to benefit from government’s incentives,” he said.

According to him, the government can only spot real manufacturers by visiting their various production plants.

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The Central Bank of Nigeria on Wednesday, released additional $250m on seven to 30 day forwards for agriculture, airline, petroleum products and raw materials.

The apex bank also called for bids for wholesale spot for $100m for Basic/Personal Travelling Allowance, medicals and tuition fees.

Confirming this in Abuja, the Acting Director, Corporate Communications Department, CBN, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, said in a statement issued on Wednesday night that the apex bank has also commenced heavy injections into the spot market.

his, he added, is in addition to the settlement of requests for wholesale spot bids for invisibles like school fees, medicals and personal travel allowance.

The CBN had earlier this week, disbursed $20,000 each to the Bureau De Change operators in two tranches of $10,000 each.

This, according to Mr. Okorafor, underscores the commitment of the CBN to ensure liquidity in the foreign exchange market.

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Unilever is to sell its margarine business, including the Flora and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter brands, as part of its response to the failed takeover by US rival Kraft Heinz.

The Anglo-Dutch firm began a review of the business after resisting the £115bn offer on value grounds despite a clear measure of support for it among Unilever investors.

The company said on Thursday that while it would continue to focus on “sustainable value creation” for shareholders, it would deliver on a series of measures to support that.

Top of the list was the sale of its spreads business, which it said was under-performing. Analysts said a sale could raise more than £4bn. Unilever said it could hive off the division as an alternative option.

It was also planning to boost dividends this year by 12% and launch a £4.3bn share buy-back by the end of 2017.

On top of those responses came a pledge to ramp up cost savings and simplify the business by looking at its dual listing in London – on the FTSE 100 – and in Amsterdam.

As part of the review, the company found that “our dual-headed … legal structure adds complexity when undertaking such change.”

Chief executive, Paul Polman, said the measures would build on its existing Connecting 4 Growth programme started last year.

“This acceleration allows us to unlock sustainable value faster and target an overall underlying operating margin, which excludes restructuring, of 20% by 2020.

“Progress and performance will be reported on with greater granularity in our financial communication,” he said.

The company’s share price was 0.4% higher in morning trading in London.


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Business mogul and richest man in Africa, Aliko Dangote is currently the owner of the largest crawler crane in Africa.

According to media reports, the astute businessman bought the crane from China’s number one construction company, XCMG Construction Machinery Co Ltd, a Company dealing in heavy machineries.

The Assistant President and General Manager, Hanson Liu, said their biggest customer in Africa is Dangote.

He noted in an interview with leadership that Dangote has bought the largest crawler crane from them, weighing about 1250 tons, adding that the massive crane was assembled in Nigeria.

Liu equally said that XCMG sold about 5000 units of various kinds of products to customers in Africa last year 2016.

“We dispatch our stationaries through Tanzania and working with some big customers like Dangote. We presently have about 24 employees in service working with Dangote full time in Nigeria,” he said.

However, Liu pointed out that working in some African countries has not been without challenges for the company. He noted that the company plans to make investments in the continent in the future.

“In some countries, we cannot easily transfer money due to financial restriction there. Also its not easy to exchange currency. And some countries have security issues which makes us a bit nervous,” he added.

He noted that they were seeking for a suitable place and favourable policies.

“You know we are always thinking about it because the next era will be Africa. So, we focus a lot on Africa. Africa has huge potential regarding development,” he said.

Due to the high technology employed by the company, robots are a part of the manufacture process, raising questions as to whether or not this would increase unemployment in the world’s most populated country.


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