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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is targeting a N200 to dollar exchange rate in the parallel market.

The naira which yesterday traded at N330 to dollar in the parallel market is expected to appreciate speedily, as the impact of the CBN’s measures to stabilise the currency volatility in the parallel market begin to materialise.

President, Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) said the N330 rate in the parallel market is an improvement from last week’s rate when the naira exchanged for N391 to dollar.

The strident calls by the IMF and some foreign interest for Nigeria to devalue its currency and the artificial spike in Forex rate created by Bureau De Change operators appears to have tanked. This has been linked to a complex and integrated currency management approaches deployed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

According to a top source in the apex Bank, “The aim of CBN is to ensure that the divergence between the official and parallel rate does not exceed N3, so we are looking at a parallel market rate of N200/$ because the downward trend in the pressure on the naira will be sustained.

“The CBN has the capacity to sustain the downward pressure and will deploy further currency management initiatives, while capitalising on fiscal policies of the federal government to remain in support of non-devaluation of the Naira. The current stand of the federal government on Nigeria’s legal tender is Non-Devaluation. It will be unwise for anybody to be hoarding dollars because we can assure you that naira appreciation is going to trend upwards going forward.”

Source: The Nation
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The map of Africa looks like a very big question mark at the end of a very big question still unanswered. We cannot leave this question for the next generation to answer. I think now is the best time to answer that question. Africa is a continent of more than 1 billion people, yet Africa has very little to no say at all when it comes to trade agreements especially at the international market.
Our colonial masters drew meaningless lines separating us and left us separated forever but as we all know, our separation only benefits our colonial masters and keeps us in bondage to the point where we find it so difficult even trading with our own brothers and sisters in Africa. We find it difficult trading with countries within Africa.

 We trade with Europe and America but the sad thing is that, we find it very difficult trading with our own African brothers and sisters, why, because our colonial masters drew several lines dividing us calling some Kenyans, some Ghanaians, some Nigerians, etc. making us feel we are different people. Our colonial masters made us feel we are so incapable of finding solutions to our own problems to the point where we need to look up to Europe, America and somewhere else for solutions to problems we face here in Africa.

Trade is actually an engine of growth and development but the sad thing is that, our beloved continent is yet to learn how to trade. Africa is a continent of great business opportunities and hope, why? because every young person in Africa is eager to work. Because Africa is a continent full of natural resources and an affordable labor force.

However, despite the enormous opportunities to do business in Africa, every year Africa loses huge sums of money to “meaningless” high trade costs, why? because Africa is yet to reach her business potential especially when it comes to intra-Africa trade and markets.

A major problem we can easily remove just by liberalising trade within Africa. Just around 10% of Africa’s trade occurs within Africa compared to over 60% in Europe and other parts of the world. Trade with Europe benefits Europeans more. The same thing applies to trade with America. However, trade within Africa would benefit Africa as a whole.

This would also give Africa a major say at the international markets. In other words, if the intra-Africa trade improves from the around 10% to say 50%, Africa would need not force cheap goods and services on Europe or America and would have a major say when it comes to determining the market prices of our oil and other raw materials.

Someone may ask, why can’t African countries trade peacefully with other African countries? There are several hidden answers to this question. If you read one article I posted recently here on about how the World Bank, the IMF and co destroy Africa, you may get to know one or two of several such reasons.

 Once the intra-Africa market trade goes up, Africa’s inter-continental trade goes down and because of that, several factors are working very hard to keep the intra-Africa trade level at all-times low. Here is an example. The Republic of Ivory Coast is the major producer of cocoa beans in the world today followed by Ghana.

Ivory Coast exports these cocoa beans at very cheap prices to chocolate-producing countries in Europe, America, and other parts of the world. The chocolate-producing countries then convert Ivory Coast’s cocoa beans into finished goods such as chocolate bars and then sell these chocolate bars at very expensive prices to poor countries including Ivory Coast and make more profit.

If Ivory Coast distributes a greater portion of her cocoa beans to chocolate-producing countries within Africa, these chocolate-producing countries in Africa would be able to produce chocolate on large scale and then exports those chocolate bars to Europe and other parts of the world and make more profit.

In other words, this would create more job opportunities in Africa and also improve Africa’s economy
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South Africa may need to import as much as 5 million tonnes of maize this year, roughly half of its requirements, because of its worst drought in three decades, the country’s largest producer group said on Wednesday.

The drought in the continent’s biggest maize producer has been exacerbated by an El Nino weather pattern and follows dry spells last year that reduced the crop by a third to 9.94 million tonnes, the lowest since 2007.

 â€œWe will be lucky if we produce 5 million tonnes this year and then we will need to import 5 million tonnes. This is the sort of scenario that we are looking at.”

That would raise practical problems of who can supply the required commodity and whether South Africa is able to handle such a large volume of imports.

South Africa’s central bank, which has been raising interest rates, has expressed concern about the impact of the drought and food price pressures on inflation in Africa’s most advanced economy.

Industry estimates at this stage remain fairly rough and previous predictions were for import needs ranging from 700,000 to 4 million tonnes. But the predictions have increased the longer the drought has gone on

 The hardest-hit areas are in the northern Free State province in the western part of the maize belt, a key growing area. De Villiers said many farmers had not planted there yet, missing the last real opportunity.

“The insurance companies will not pay out if the crop has not been planted and germinated by the first of January,” he said. Maize in South Africa is generally planted early in the southern hemisphere summer around November.

The situation in eastern part of the maize belt in Mpumalanga province, which has had some rain, is not as bad but De Villiers said yields there would likely fall below average.

“How are we going to import 5 million tonnes? Because our port facilities cannot do that,” De Villiers said.

Such facilities would include grain elevators to move imports and storage sites, which risk being overwhelmed.

The chief executive of Transnet, South Africa’s state-run ports and rail company, told Reuters in December that the groundwork was being prepared to import as much as 4 million tonnes of maize.

De Villiers said the other problem was sourcing white maize, the staple crop that provides much of the caloric intake for South Africa’s lower-income households.

Outside of Africa, the only other significant producers of the white variety are Mexico and the United States. Yellow maize in South Africa is mostly used for animal feed.

According to the South African Grain Information Service, in the 2014/15 marketing season South Africa imported just 65,000 tonnes of yellow maize.

So far this season, which runs to the end of April, the country has imported 670,000 tonnes of yellow maize and 68,000 tonnes of white maize, the latter from Mexico and Zambia.

South African white maize prices doubled last year and the March White maize contract hit a record close of 4,901 rand ($311 )a tonne on Tuesday on drought worries.

It briefly hit a historic high of 4,952 rand a tonne on Wednesday on De Villiers’ comments before falling back to close 0.50 percent lower at 4,875 rand a tonne.
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The yield on Kenya‘s 364-day Treasury bill rose to 13.803 percent at auction on Wednesday from 13.254 percent at last week’s sale, the central bank said.

The yield on the six-month Treasury bill increased to 13.164 percent from 12.762 percent.

The central bank sold bills worth a combined 5.68 billion shillings ($55.58 million), against a target of 12 billion, reflecting a subscription rate of 48.59 percent for the 182-day bill and 65.11 percent for the one-year bill
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Press statement from the office of the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo...
The Buhari administration is interested in using technology to fast track the country’s growth and development, according to Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN Speaking yesterday while signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Federal Government and Global Good Fund co-founded by US billionaire, Bill Gates, the Vice President said the administration “is interested in the idea of using technology because it is the way forward for those interested in rapid growth in the next decade”.
He noted that the President has said that this administration is committed to a bottom-up approach and technology is a tool that can help make the difference.
According to him, “I am interested in this whole idea of using technology to address some of our challenges”, especially in agriculture and health, adding that there is no alternative to the use of technology.
Present at the signing ceremony were the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Audu Ogeh; Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole and that of Budget and National Planning, Mr. Udoma Udo Udoma.
Flanked at the sides by the Ministers at the MoU signing, the Vice President emphasized the importance of technology as a means of adding value and improving the lives of millions of people.
He said “we are at a point where technology is important for making a difference in the lives of the people”.
For instance, he said there is the need to develop specific technology solutions that can target low level subsistence farmers, small, micro and medium enterprises with the resultant effect of impacting lives. However, he further noted that “the challenge is how to ensure that these initiatives and innovations will benefit the majority of the people”.
While commending the initiative to engage with the Global Good in the effort, the Vice President charged the partners to ensure that measurable targets are set in order that tangible results can be achieved.
“I think we should be able to set targets, to have useful interaction in terms of how much we are able to achieve; this target should be on a scale, for instance, in the next one or two years. It should be based on measurable targets to keep our focus”, Prof. Osinbajo explained stressing that “at the end of the day, it will mean we’ve impacted so many millions of people”.
Earlier, Mr. David Keogh, the Director of Global Good Fund, who signed the MoU on behalf of his organisation and led the Fund’s delegation, said the Fund is on a social mission to deploy technology in the area of agriculture and healthcare that will impact many people in Nigeria. He stated that the company working in collaboration with multi-lateral agencies, non-profit organisations and governments, engages in identifying challenges in different value chains and provide technological solutions to these value chains.
The MoU signed between Nigeria and Global Good will provide the framework for identifying the specific challenges in identified sectors such as in agriculture and healthcare and provide the necessary technological solutions to impact the lives of the people. Global Good is funded by Bill Gates.
Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant (Media & Publicity)
In the Vice President's Office

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The chambers of the National Assembly, the Senate and the House of Representatives, yesterday, passed a  total sum of N574,532,726,857 as supplementary budget for President Muhammadu Buhari for additional Recurrent (Non- Debt) Expenditure for the year ending on December 31, 2015 to be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation.

With N109 billion approved by the Senate for fuel subsidy, the total would now amount to N522,258,934,505 as the President, in the letter to the Senate, had requested for N413 billion for fuel subsidy.

Also N5,000,000,000 was approved as Victims Support Funds in the Capital Supplementation which would be re-classified to the Service Wide Vote of N559,217,800,017.

The Senate also approved the sum of N29,958,865,512 to fight the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East and payment of outstanding claims in order to reduce the suffering of Nigerians under the heading, Operation Zaman Lafiya. The Nigerian Army will get N17,468,992,640; Nigerian Airforce, N8,141,434,760; Nigerian Army outstanding balance from 2015 and second quarter, N4,348,438,112.

The approval of the Senate was sequel to the report of the Senator Danjuma Goje-led Committee on Appropriations on the 2015 Supplementary Appropriation Bill.

Earlier, the senators broke into an executive session for one hour as part of moves to discuss the appropriation bill and give the President a soft landing by passing the budget and as a follow up to last Thursday’s dinner the Senators were with the President where collaboration and synergy among the Executive and Legislature were emphasized.

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Aliko Dangote has promised to construct a 500 megawatt power plant for Kaduna, Kano, Katsina and Jigawa States. This is a deliberate attempt to support local economy and wealth creation. The Chairman and CEO of Dangote Group of Companies made the pledge through his representative, Engineer Mansur Ahmed, the executive director stakeholders management, at the 36th Kano Trade Fair held in Kano. In his address, Engr. Ahmed noted that without power industries and commerce will cripple and businesses seriously decline as has been the situation in Kano State.

He further revealed that they were currently discussing with the Kano State government on the megawatt power supply and final agreement will be signed soon.

Engr. Ahmed made it known that Dangote has built over a hundred borehole across the state and the theatre health facility at Murtala Muhammed Specialist Hospital which was posponed due to discrepancies and would soon take off in the next few weeks.

Dangote group has done quite a lot of intervention across the federation,he added, sighting the example of Ebola case were the group spent over a billion naira to control it's spread and another billion naira support to Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, especially in the north east.

Engr. Ahmed also disclosed that the nutrition program of Dangote Group is aimed at ensuring that Nigerian children grow up vibrant and intelligent. Read More
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 Lucara A Canadian company, has discovered the World’s second-largest gem-quality diamond in Botswana.

The companies chief Executive Officer, William Lamb, in a statement said the 1,111-carat diamond was second in size only to the 3,106-carat one unearthed at Cullinan mine in neighbouring South Africa in 1905.
The diamond, slightly smaller than a tennis ball, was recovered by machines in the Karowe mine in central Botswana
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According to organised private sector estimates, the maritime industry has the potential of contributing up to N7 trillion annually to Nigeria’s economy.

Maritime stakeholders at a workshop with the theme “Economic Regulation in the Maritime Sector” held in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, last month , said the N7 trillion revenue can be generated if the federal government enforces better regulation of the industry.

A former director at the Ministry of Transport and member of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Collins Okoroafor, in a presentation at the workshop, reported that Nigeria with over 850 kilometres of coastline had huge economic potentials in the sector.

“There are eight major seaports, 11 oil terminals and 128 private jetties. Total cargo handling capacity of Nigerian ports is over 35 million tonnes. Nigeria is very active in international trade – major crude oil exporter, import dependent. This trade is about 85 per cent. Maritime industry has the potential of contributing up to N7 trillion annually to the Nigerian economy,” Okoroafor who also chairs the CEGONET Limited stated in his presentation titled, Nigerian Shippers’ Council and Ports Economic Regulation: An Overview.

Okoroafor lamented that shipment problems, shipping space, safety of cargo on board, freight rates, documentation, port-related problems, port charges, congestion, security, shore handling and tracking of containers/parcels, customs issues, remain some of the several problems hampering the maritime sector. He also enumerated the problems of the sector to include inland/transportation problems, availability/efficiency of rail/road networks, security/tracking of cargoes, haulage costs, transit arrangements, documentation, legal, banking and insurance issues.

He regretted the “deterioration of the quality of shipping services and the demand side challenges, arbitrary and large increases in ocean freight rates by cartelized foreign cargo liner operators”.

In his presentation, Lawyer and maritime expert, Chima Nwana urged the National Assembly to pass the “Bill to Establish a National Transport Commission as an Independent Multi-modal Economic Regulator for the Transport Industry and for Other Related Matters”.

The maritime lawyer said the passage of the Bill to law, will increase private sector participation in the maritime sector as he stressed that there was a need to allow stakeholder collaboration with government to improve regulation.

Nwana also suggested that the National Assembly, could alternatively, amend the Nigeria Shippers’ Council Act to enforce regulation in the sector. Read More
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Ivory Coast’s economy will grow by 7.9 percent this year and by an average of 7.6 percent in 2016 and 2017, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in a new report. The country, once torn by civil war, has been showing impressive economic recovery since the end of the crisis in 2011.

Increase in private sector investment under President Alassane Ouattara has largely spurred this growth. However, the outcome of the presidential election, slated for October, will play a key role in the economic prospects for next year. IMF forecasts were below the target the government set for itself this year — 9.4 percent — which it expects to run into double-digits in 2016. “While the staff recognises that a post-election end to the wait-and-see attitude of some private investors could push growth rates above its estimate in 2016, the mission felt that this factor is too uncertain to be incorporated in the baseline scenario,” the report said.

Frontier market investors, who are excited by Ivory Coast’s impressive growth in recent years, are believed to be keen to see Ouattara re-elected. The former deputy head of the IMF had embarked on large-scale infrastructure projects, previously stalled during years of political instability.

The French-speaking nation has also invested heavily in electricity generation, with a new output target set as 4,000 megawatts, from the current 1,600. That’ll be almost double the current output of Nigeria, its west African neighbour and the continent’s largest economy. Already, the country is exporting its excess power to neighbours like Ghana.

Investments into Ivory Coast is also growing rapidly, particularly into its resource sectors. Recently, Olam, a Singaporean firm with agricultural interests across Africa invested $75 million in the country’s cocoa industry, which accounts for 22 percent of the country’s GDP. The first chocolate making factory was also launched in the West African nation this year.

Overall, Ivory Coast’s macroeconomic outlook is positive but risks remain. Poor weather could affect agricultural output and power production while a continuation of recently discovered extra-budgetary spending may affect the economy and scare investors.
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