FCT Minister announces new market hours in Abuja and also list sectors to re-open

FCT Minister, Muhammed Bello, has approved the extension of market days for Abuja.

Bello, in a statement issued on Saturday, said markets will now open three times in a week.

The minister said with effect from May 25, markets will operate from 8 am to 3pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

He actually said that from Monday, additional section of the market will be opened.

This includes ;.

  1. Agricultural inputs for farm activities such as fertilizer, herbicides , seeds and agricultural equipment.
  2. Building and construction material , electrical items specially for construction.

He maintained that all new section of the market to be reopened must ensure decontamination of their premises prior to commencement of business.

Bello advised market operators to observe all established protocols of washing hands, wearing of nose masks and social distancing.

CIBN points banking industry to emotional intelligence for ethical leadership

The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) has advised the banking industry to leverage on emotional intelligence to build ethical leadership in the Industry.Emotions in interpersonal relationships, service delivery and intrapersonal relationship influence the major parameters in service-oriented firms like banking profession, which are amplified by the digital landscape in which banks operate as pressure are exerted on these parameters.Uche Messiah Olowu, immediate past president/chairman of council, CIBN gave the advice while delivering his presidential valedictory address, themed: ‘Ethical Leadership in Banks and Emotional Intelligence’, via Webinar at the weekend

Olowu listed the four domains of emotional intelligence that predicts success, which includes self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. These domains are strengthened by emotional competencies which comprised individual thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, and it is divided into personal and social competencies.He maintained that Leadership will succeed if people are emotionally engaged by priming good feelings in those they lead.

Olowu told over one thousand participants who connected to the programme through Zoom and YouTube that ‘Ethical leadership influences people to exhibit right behaviour that could maximize values such as integrity, honesty, consistency and so on, adding that ‘Emotional intelligence aligns with ethics to achieve organizational success.According to him, emotions in interpersonal relationships, service delivery and intrapersonal relationship influence the major parameters in service-oriented firms like banking profession, which are amplified by the digital landscape in which banks operate as pressure are exerted on these parameters.He was concerned that little attention has been paid to emotional intelligence in the banking industry as cognitive processes are adopted for performance assessment, recruitments, and selections, and this has  encouraged wrong performance, wrong interpretations of human actions and erroneous reflection of organizations’ values in the characteristics of top management as stated in underlying theories of emotional intelligence. It is generally perceived that numerous scandals in the banking industry creates the impression that corporate culture in banks tolerates unethical behaviour, apart from the fact that banking is a business premised on the capitalist ideal of profit at all cost. This, he said has damaged customers trust.Speaking as an outgoing president, he recommended that ethical leadership behaviour should be encouraged in banks to facilitate success through leadership commitment to ethical values, prudence, and exercise of fair judgement.Emotional capabilities should be developed to create an atmosphere of trust, cooperation, and ethical leadership.The Banking industry should shun pressure of the moment which leads to unethical behaviour.Training for emotional intelligence across the broad spectrum should be executed to arrest discomfort and provide reassurances in time of turbulence and threatening change.Olowu highlighted his achievements as the 20th President/Chairman of Council of the Institute which were predicated on these five points agenda of: Rules and Standards, Skills and Competence, Research and Advocacy, Technology and Resources, and Brand and Visibility.The online valedictory address which was chaired by Mazi Victor Okoronkwo, group managing director of Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company Limited/1st national vice president of the Nigerian Gas Association and Osaretin Demuren, chairman, GTBank Plc and chairman, Bank Directors Association of Nigeria as special guest of honour was also an opportunity to celebrate the leadership of  Uche Messiah Olowu for a two-year tenure (2018-2020) as the President of the most and enviable banking institute.Bayo Olugbemi was sworn in on Saturday as the 21st president/ chairman of council of the CIBN.Olugbemi took over the CIBN leadership from Uche Olowu his predecessor and has also crafted the strategic focus of his administration in the next two years into the acronym “A-TEAM”.The new CIBN leader will oversee affairs of the Institute for the next two years. He was sworn in by Honourable Justice Adesuyi Olateru-Olagbegi (Rtd) at the Bankers House, Council Chamber, Victoria Island, Lagos.Olugbemi is expected to bring his knowledge of over 38 years’ experience as investment banker to bear on the Institute.Olugbemi, who is also the managing director/CEO, First Registrars and Investor Services Limited had served as the first vice president and chairman, board of fellows and practice licenses at CIBN as well as the president/chairman of council, The Institute of Capital Market Registrars and Treasurer, Lagos chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI)

Saving banks from the impending revulsion

A banking revolution is a good thing but any thing that makes people wish they had nothing to do with banks is revulsion. It is bad. The banking industry in Nigeria has seen the good, the bad and the ugly times. It has had its fair share of difficulties, leading to considerable attrition of its members. Banks have also made significant contributions to the financial inclusion policy of Nigeria, and the digitisation and modernisation of the financial intermediation role of the industry. Time there was, in Nigeria, when going to a banking hall to get cash was both comical and nightmarish.

Once a customer arrived at the bank, he or she was given a “tally number” – a plastic disk with a number on it, to identify his or her location in the permanently long queues that were a standard feature of the banking halls. On armed with the tally, the endless waiting game begins, and ends only when somebody from behind the counter, calls out the tally number and the custom answers. That part used to be very entertaining – to hear Nigerians answer in their various languages, as their tally numbers ring out in the banking halls.

Technology was rudimentary and customers literally went to banks with their mats to lie down, and probably take a nap, while waiting to be called. The real show begins when a banking officer calls out to the waiting customers, some of whom had already begun to doze or even snore. Usman, whose tally number is 4 hears the cashier scream Number 4, and he springs up from his mat and goes in Hausa, “n’am!”. This may be followed after several minutes with another call of tally number 5, which belongs to Madam Bisi, a Yoruba petty trader, and she jumps up on her feet, clutching her loosening wrappers and screaming back at the cashier in Yoruba, “emi re o!”. And Mazi Okoro will jump, roll his mat and reply in Igbo, “obum!”, as soon as his tally number was called.

Each of those responses signalled the presence of the customer who then proceeded to be served. That was the kind of time-destroying ritual that was the norm in our banks at the time, until the dawn of the new era.

The 1980s marked a watershed in Nigerian banking history, and saw us go through some of the most remarkable transformations in the history of banking in Africa. It was a fundamental and relatively sudden change – a kind of revolution that changed the banking landscape for good and for the better. Unlike in the 70s when Rural Banking was compelled, commercial banks took their branches to every nook and corner of the country. In many ways, this positively impacted on the rural based micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Prior to the banking revolution of the 1980s, the industry was characterised by what became known as “armchair banking”, whereby bankers sat in their then cosy, but now relatively  decrepit, offices waiting for customers to bring their needs to the banks to have them met through any of the limited service options available at the time. There were hardly any marketing units, to say nothing of marketing divisions in the banks. Customers were served as long as they were able to bring their banking needs to the banks. Banking was essentially an operations activity cantered in the back office.

The banking revolution saw the development of many “new generation bank” that were slim and fleet-footed. Many were merchant banks that specialised in wholesale banking, focusing of capital issues and financial advisory services. The commercial banks outclassed the old “legacy banks” in ambience, product variety and customer service; all facilitated by and delivered through novel technology platforms. I dare say that the so-called new generation banks have contributed immensely to the development of banking in Nigerian, and national economic growth.

In the face of mounting provisions and dwindling inflows, how can the banks sustain lending to ensure the economic engine restarts in good time? This is a global challenge we must attack. How do we keep households and microenterprises breathing as economic decline bottoms out?

Now the times have changed and revulsion, rather than a revolution, seems to be hanging over the banking industry, not just in Nigeria but in the whole world. Banking is not going to be a sweet-smelling scent around in the next few years, unless something is done urgently. The allure of banking has come to a screeching halt, as COVID-19 puts a foot on the break of the global economy, starting in 2020. Another new era seems to be breaking in the annals of banking, in which governments and regulatory authorities have got to nurse the banks and their customers back to life. This will call not just for prudence and rationality but also patience and courage.

At a time when global economy was already weakened by declining oil prices, occasioned by a chain of events, including the Saudi-Russia oil conflict and declining demand from China, a calamity of dizzying proportions, in the form of a pandemic, hit the global economy, destabilising economic equilibrium and devastating every economic sector.

In Nigeria, the economy is confronting a contracting manufacturing sector with Purchasing Managers Index diving significantly south to about 51 in March, the lowest in about one year. COVID-19 has hit the banking industry in such a way that only concerted action of the government and regulators would have any meaningful impact. Customers have watched their cash flows evaporate and with it, credit quality, even of the best risk assets, has deteriorated. Clearly, it will be wishful thinking to expect customers to effectively service their facilities. Not only has cash flows dried up, collateral values have declined as various asset values take a hit.

In the face of mounting provisions and dwindling inflows, how can the banks sustain lending to ensure the economic engine restarts in good time? This is a global challenge we must attack. How do we keep households and microenterprises breathing as economic decline bottoms out? Will recovery take a “V” or “U” shape or will it be drawn out taking an “L” shape? Each recovery trajectory has short and long-term implications for the economy.

For starters, regulators must wake up from any hangover of the good times and come to the reality that banks will have to chase bad money with good money, and still run the risk of losing both and this why the times call for regulatory courage. Trigger happy regulators are not needed now. Regulatory arrogance and supervisory rigidity will dig the hole deeper and make recovery harder. Monetary policy action as currently being implemented is good but will not be good enough. Fiscal action effectively implemented, is a necessity. The flow of funds to households and firms, which constitute the key players in the Circular Flow of income, and the production of the Gross Domestic Product, now practically halted by the lockdown.

BDCs warn forex speculators of losses, set to resume full operations

The Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) has warned its members and forex speculators putting pressure on the naira exchange rate to stop such activities or risk losing their money.

ABCON President, Aminu Gwadabe who disclosed this yesterday in Lagos said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)-licensed Bureaux de Change (BDCs) will soon start full operations as the apex bank will soon reopen dollar sales to operators.

According to Gwadabe, with the CBN’s planned lifting of moratorium on dollar sales to BDCs, reopening of the airports for air travels, global ease on restriction of movement are positive indications that dollar flows to the economy will soon improve.

He said the naira was yesterday evening exchanging at N461 to dollar at the parallel market but will be upbeat once dollar sales to BDCs commence.

“The return of over 5,000 BDCs to the forex market will add great strength to the Naira and lead to major capital losses for forex speculators. It happened in 2016 and will happen again in 2020. The return of the BDCs will immediately boost Naira recovery and put the enemies of the economy to shame. We are committed to the CBN’s exchange rate stability and will take all necessary steps within set rules and regulations to keep the naira stable,” he assured.

Gwadabe said the return of BDCs to the forex market will help chase away speculators, curb rising inflation, boost productivity and employment, enhance price discovery, enhance market transparency and competitiveness.

Continuing, the ABCON boss said the uptick in activities in the Chinese economy has raised the country’s crude oil demand which will impact positively on Nigeria’s crude oil sales to the Asian country and boost dollar earnings.

Gwadabe added that the CBN has created enhanced fiscal buffers with the $3.4 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) meant for Nigeria to meet its urgent balance of payment stemming from the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the loan, which has been disbursed, will also boost Nigeria’s dollar reserves and financing to the budget for targeted and temporary spending increases.

The loan, he added, will help in containing and mitigating the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and of the sharp fall in international oil prices thereby putting the Naira in a better standing against other currencies

The ABCON boss said Nigeria’s foreign reserves have reached over $35 billion, which represents enough buffers for the CBN to deal with any act of illegal economic behaviour like hoarding, speculation, conversion of local assets among other illicit financial activities.

Gwadabe also added that the OPEC measures on sustainable price stability are commendable as many governments across the world have agreed to oil production adjustment targets and continued collaboration with all their partners, a move that will benefit Nigeria.

He said the CBN has also officially reviewed the naira exchange rate to N380 to a dollar. Aside devaluing the naira, the apex bank also adopted a unified exchange rate, and pushed the official rate of the naira to N376 to dollar for International Money Transfer Operators rate to banks; N377 to dollar for banks’ dollar sale to CBN and pegged CBN’s dollar sales to banks at N378, all aimed at attracting Foreign Portfolio Investment and strengthening the local currency. The BDC operators are expected to buy dollar from the CBN at N378 per dollar.

Gwadabe said the naira rate review and assurances by the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele to foreign investors that want to repatriate their funds from the country are positive for the naira continued recovery.

“The apex bank has put in place policies to ensure an orderly exit for foreign investors that might be interested in doing so and has also urged investors to be patient as such repatriations are processed, owing to the bank’s policy of orderly exit of investments. The CBN has continually kept its promises to foreign investors and that confidence will play in Nigeria’s favor,” Gwadabe said.

He said the Federal Government’s plan to revise the 2020 budget oil benchmark to $20 per barrel will make more foreign capital available for economic development and strengthening of the Naira.

Gwadabe commended efforts by the Federal Government in curbing COVID-19 pandemic including several initiatives by the CBN meant to boost the real sector growth and attract more foreign capital to the economy.

He assured the CBN that ABCON and its members, remained committed to supporting the regulator in realizing its exchange rate stability mandate and ensuring transparent market operations built on regulatory compliance and zero tolerance for market abuse.

Shell, Exxonmobil donate medical equipment to states to fight COVID-19

Rivers State is set to start testing for COVID-19 in Port Harcourt with the receipt of the state’s first set of testing equipment from the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) among many other medical hardware and consumables presented to the state governor, Nyesom Wike .

Osagie Okunbor, managing director and Country chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria, who presented two Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machines, the main testing equipment, ventilators and other medical items at the government house in Port Harcourt, said SPDC and its joint venture partners were committed to supporting the state to stop the spread of COVID-19 or any disease outbreak in the state.

Okunbor, who was represented by the deputy managing director of SPDC, Simon Roddy, said, “While we remain committed to supporting the state government to deepen its efforts at managing the pandemic, we recognise inadequate testing capability in the Niger Delta and it is in response to this that we are presenting the state with COVID-19 compatible PCR machines and kits, while further extending medical equipment support to the holding centre at the Eleme General Hospital.”

The SPDC boss said the donation, the third in a series, was aimed at further enhancing the clinical capacities and capabilities at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital.

Also Mobil Producing Nigeria, an Exxonmobil affiliate, and operator of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation/mobil Producing Nigeria Joint Venture is donating two ambulances, 20 additional vehicles and medical supplies to various state governments and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to assist in the country’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Akwa Ibom State Government is receiving two ambulances for emergency cases and 15 other vehicles, while Rivers State is receiving five vehicles. Medical supplies, including World Health Organization certified COVID-19 test kits, sample collection kits and hospital beds valued at more than N90 million will be distributed to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, as well as Akwa Ibom and Rivers states.

“We are actively working with our partner, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation and other stakeholders on ways to assist in halting the spread of the virus,” said Paul Mcgrath, chairman and managing director of Exxonmobil companies in Nigeria.

Mcgrath said that the NNPC/MPN JV’S efforts are being guided by government agencies’ advice with regard to specific requirements and determining the areas of greatest need.

“Supporting Nigeria’s fight against COVID-19 requires a broad, collective effort that should follow the guidelines established by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, as well as the state and federal governments.”

Exxonmobil’s donations are part of an oil and gas industry effort coordinated by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation to provide medical supplies, deploy additional equipment and to support medical infrastructure and in-patient treatment.

22 businesses shortlisted for All On , USADF Off-Grid Energy Challenge

Twenty-two wholly Nigerian owned enterprises have been shortlisted for the 2020 USADF – All On Nigeria Off-Grid Energy Challenge says the Shell funded Nigerian impact investor All On in a release.

The third edition of the annual challenge, which is in partnership with the United States African Development Foundation (USADF), will provide $50,000 in grant capital and $50,000 in convertible debt to each of the selected energy enterprises that makes it through the rigorous due diligence process.

A portion of the funding for the Challenge awards is part of the support provided to entrepreneurs in the energy access sector by the All On Hub, an initiative supported by the Rockefeller Foundation.

In addition to funding, the winners will receive technical assistance from USADF and governance support from All On. The winners will be formally announced in Q4 2020.

“In spite of the negative economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain committed to our mission to invest in off-grid energy solutions that will help bridge the significant energy gap in Nigeria,” said Sele Inegbedion, Manager, All On Hub. “It’s exciting to see that even during this crisis, there are Nigerian entrepreneurs developing innovative solutions to address Nigeria’s access to energy gap”.

The USADF provides seed capital and local project management assistance that helps improve lives and impact livelihoods while addressing some of Africa’s biggest challenges, such as energy poverty.

The Covid-19 pandemic has illustrated how essential modern energy access is to healthcare, and how important it will be for economic recovery.

“We are proud to partner with All On for the third year to advance our off-grid and renewable energy efforts in Nigeria,” said Femi Adegbite, Off-Grid Energy Officer, USADF. “We are particularly pleased that despite the current crisis, innovation in the off-grid sector is thriving and this partnership continues to support Nigerian energy enterprises in growing their businesses and reconfiguring them as necessary to respond to COVID-19 challenges and opportunities.”

Caroline Eboumbou, Director for The Rockefeller Foundation’s Power Initiative said: “Such times of crisis remind us how critical innovation is to providing vital solutions to global challenges. The Rockefeller Foundation is proud to support All On and invest in innovative entrepreneurs and businesses that can help address energy poverty by scaling Nigeria’s off-grid sector.”

The selected Nigerian enterprises are increasing sustainable energy access, specifically off-grid solutions, and extending the delivery of electrification to unserved and under-served communities in five of the six geopolitical zones –South South, North Central, North West, South West and South East zones in Nigeria. Cleanenergy technologies proposed include, but are not limited to, solar, hydro, wind, biomass, biogas, gas and hybrid systems. Electrification channels represented include solar home systems, mini-grids, power storage and cold storage.

Nigeria imported 20.89bn litres of petrol in 2019 – NBS

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has announced that Nigeria imported 20.89 billion litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol in 2019.

This was contained in the report on petroleum products importations statistics for last year.

NBS said Nigeria also imported 5.15 billion litres of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO), and 128.11 million litres of Household Kerosene (HHK) in the period under review.

1.07 billion litres of Aviation Turbine Kerosene (ATK) were imported as well as 45.98 million litres of Low Pour Fuel Oil (LPFO).

It said 526.06 million litres of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) were imported into the country in the year under review.

NBD confirmed that zonal distribution of truck-out volume for 2019 showed that 20.58 billion litres of PMS, 5.16 litres of AGO and 270.22 million litres of HHK, 1.05 billion litres of ATK and 84.53 million litres of LPFO were distributed nationwide.

South Africa, Nigeria dominate cryptocurrency market in Africa as insufficient internet dim prospects

South Africa and Nigeria are the two dominant cryptocurrency markets on the Africa continent, according to a new report by Arcane Research in collaboration with Luno.

Two different surveys carried out by researchers showed that among internet users who owned cryptocurrency, South Africa ranked third-largest worldwide at 13 percent with Nigeria posting 5th at 11 percent. Another survey showed that 16 percent of South Africans with internet access had either used or owned cryptocurrency, ranking only behind Turkey, Brazil and Colombia.

Awareness of the market is also growing on the continent as the report noted that over the past 12 months, Google Trend data has shown that Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Ghana have all ranked in the top 10 on the topic of cryptocurrency. 

Despite its potential, the market is still bogged down by challenges such as inadequate internet coverage. As of December 2019, internet penetration on the continent was at 39.3 percent less than the world average of 59 percent.

The internet inadequacy means that the continent lacks typical infrastructure that comes with a mature cryptocurrency market such as nodes, mining operations, supporting merchants, ATMs and exchanges.

For instance, of the 10,267 Bitcoin nodes in the world, Africa accounts for only 20 (0.2%). The number is even smaller at 12 nodes for Ethereum, but the percentage is about the same with Bitcoin at 0.2 percent. South Africa is responsible for the vast majority of the existing nodes on the continent. 

Bitcoin’s Lightning Network on the continent is similarly immature, the report says as Africa accounts for just 0.24 percent of BTC Lightning nodes, contributing just 0.07 percent of total network capacity, yet again with almost all contributions coming from South Africa.

The researchers, however, acknowledge that there might be more nodes as many people now operate nodes out of data centres like AWS. Nonetheless, there is low-level of adoption of blockchain technology on the continent. 

Mining activities are also affected by poor access to quality internet couple with lack of electricity. Latest research from CoinShares has found that there are no meaningful Bitcoin mining activity across Africa.

The legality of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is also a major problem as regulators on the continent often treat the market with hostility. Over 60 percent of African governments are yet to clarify their position on whether to legalise crypto assets or ban them. The market is also having to compete with mobile money services, it is a double-edged sword. Mobile money has become incredibly popular in some African countries such as Kenya and Zimbabwe.

“This uncertainty, while not an absolute barrier, is a drag on the speed of adoption,” the report noted. 

But Luno and other exchanges on the continent have at various times reported increased adoption despite the challenges. 

Launched in 2013, the Luno has offices in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Lagos and has processed approximately $4.5 million per day on average in 2020. This is reflected in the overview of Luno’ fiat-to-crypto volume, where 75 percent of the trading volume has been in South African rand (ZAR) so far in 2020. Nigerian Naira (NGN) has accounted for 15  percent of Luno’s trading volume this year, and Malaysian ringgit (MYR) and the Euro (EUR) being used for 6 percent and 3 percent of the trades in 2020, respectively. Indonesian rupiah (IDR), Singapore dollar (SGD), Zambian kwacha and Ugandan shilling (UGX) accounts for less than 1 percent each.

Paxful, a P2P exchange is also highly popular across Africa, with 1,350,000 wallets, accounting for 45% of its global count. Adoption is being driven by high inflation and uncertainties in the economy, 

“Over the past 20 years, the majority of African nations have suffered from high inflation rates, robbing citizens of wealth and purchasing power. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that have limited supplies, disinflationary monetary models, and decentralized governance, offer protection against such effects,” the report said.  

The growing demand for cryptocurrency has attracted the attention and investments of bigger international players like Binance and Huobi. Binance has opened a new subsidiary in Uganda while offering NGN trading and ZAR deposits on its main exchange, in addition to KES deposits that just launched.

Ondo’s first truck assembly plant begins operations

The Ondo State Government on Tuesday confirmed that a truck assembly plant, Dongfeng Trucks, one of the investors in the Ondo-Linyi Industrial Hub in Ore, has begun skeletal operations.

Alex Ajipe, the Manager of the industrial hub, stated this in an interview with BusinessDay. According to Ajipe, this is the first time in the history of the state that a truck assembly plant will be operating in the state.

The Ondo-Linyi Industrial hub, located in Ore, Odigbo Local Government area of the state, was recently inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari during the third anniversary of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu’s administration.

The plant, Dongfeng Trucks, which was established in 1969, is one of the China’s leading truck brands, with a product range covering heavy and medium duty trucks.

Expressing delight over the historic breakthrough at the plant in Ore, Ajipe said that the plant would begin full assembly of trucks whenever the COVID-19 pandemic subsided.

Ajipe, also the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Klick Konnect Network International Limited, described the development as another remarkable milestone by the Akeredolu’s-led administration in the state.

He said, “the hub has recorded landmark establishments, such as one of the highest capacity producers of high-quality food-grade ethanol in Nigeria.

“It has the first MDF factory in West Africa; a high-capacity textile mill and a paper mill, among others, all of which have employed the state indigenes in their thousands.”

The Africa Farmers’ Stories – The Irony of Food shortage amidst Food Wastage

Africa has never faced hunger crisis like this before as the lockdown enforced by countries shows the frailty of the food supply chain. There are several statistics showing the impact of COVID19 in increasing the rate of acute hunger in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
It is ironical that hunger ravages our continent in the midst of food abundance as evident in food wastage found at farm gates.

I have been harvesting mangoes from my family’s trees for years now, but it is really only profitable during the off-season. When it is in season like now, it is hard to sell a basket for anything more than ₦5000. There are also many untended trees in the area, and even though we pick as much as we can to sell, a lot of it falls to the floor and rots. Especially now with the pandemic, not many people come to buy directly from us like they used to, and the markets are no longer open every day Mr. Idado a Mango Farmer in Benue.

Nigeria is estimated to produce about 850, 000 metric tonnes of mangoes annually of widely varying varieties, with most of this production via small scale and subsistence farms scattered across the country. During the peak season for the tropical fruit, usually between February to June, depending on variety, it is widely available and sold at low profit to farmers because of its overabundance due to poor storage, resulting to large quantities of the fruit being wasted because of a lack of consumers and few facilities for storage and processing.

Postharvest losses in African agriculture are estimated at between 20 to 40 percent of food produced. An estimated 25 percent of agricultural produce are lost following harvest in countries such as Nigeria, due to mishandling, spoilage and pest infestation . Coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic at this time, the problem has become increasingly direr. Many farmers could see a total loss of investments into their businesses, and unfortunately, this loss in capital is usually seen within the micro and small enterprises in the agribusiness, and can be so severe that they can lead to unemployment as high as between five to twenty staff strength within a small farm.

The COVID-19 pandemic has understandably had a tremendous impact on the agricultural sector, and restrictions to movement are seriously accelerating post-harvest loss. Stale eggs are buried and yam tubers rot in poor storage facilities. Mangoes, currently in season, are being wasted in alarming quantities daily, due to the difficulties associated with transport to a larger market.
The fear of harassment has significantly caused a scare amongst truck drivers as perishables from Funtua town; Kastina state with Lagos state as the target market goes through several checkpoints leading to a delivery delay by two days says the P.R.O Perishable Food Association Mile 12.
The impact of food scarcity in urban areas is already being felt, from the raids carried out by the 1 Million Boys gang in areas of Lagos, where, from street to street, residents are sent letters alerting them to expect a visit from the gang, to the food trucks ambushed on the roads by hungry residents in Northern cities.

To mitigate the severity of these highlighted challenges to food production and supply, better logistics, digital markets and infrastructure are needed, as well as collaboration with innovative agribusiness enterprises to allow farmers reach a wider audience and link them with vendors who can provide a platform for sales to the end consumers, as well as allow them further utilize their produce through processing and preservation.

It is imperative to support the agricultural sector as much as possible at this time to ensure that food shortages associated with food insecurity do not arise. In order to prevent farmers from losing their investments, Big Dutchman in collaboration with other players in the food and agriculture value chain is sponsoring a social media campaign tagged “The African Farmers’ Stories” to support these micro and small enterprise farmers tell their stories of success, struggles and innovations with the aim of reaching a wider market and investment in the sector. This campaign initiated by SupportforAfricaSMEs group in partnership with BusinessDay will also help consumers in need of these products access to them using digital market place infrastructure of partners to enable farmers reach their desired market.

The resilience and innovation of the Nigerian spirit comes to mind, and this is a call to action to propagate hope for African food manufacturers and garners collaborators for farmers who can bridge the gap between food wastage and food shortage- using a docuseries on Instagram-with @monsieurUwem during the ongoing pandemic.

Oil climbs to $33.54 as market glut eases on lockdown relaxation

Brent crude, the international benchmark, rose 3.2 per cent to $33.54 a barrel in Asian trading Monday, as traders responded to signs demand was recovering with parts of Europe and North America beginning to ease some virus-related restrictions.

US oil climbed above $30 and Asia stocks made modest gains as investors took heart from easing coronavirus lockdowns, even as the head of the US Federal Reserve warned a full economic recovery could take until 2021.

West Texas Intermediate, the US crude benchmark, rose 4.3 per cent to $30.68 a barrel on Monday in Asia, climbing above $30 for the first time in two months.

A month ago, prices collapsed into negative territory for the first time as a lack of storage capacity forced producers to pay buyers to take product off their hands.

“Essentially the market is now telling us that storage is not an issue at the moment,” said Robert Rennie, head of global market strategy at Westpac.

But sentiment was tempered by comments from Fed chair Jay Powell, who on Sunday warned that a full US economic recovery may take until the end of 2021 and could depend on a coronavirus vaccine being available.

“[It] could stretch through the end of next year, we really don’t know,” Mr Powell said. But he added that while net job losses would probably persist for a “couple more months” months, the economy should recovery steadily in the second half of this year barring a renewed wave of coronavirus cases.

Gold prices climbed in the wake of Mr Powell’s warning, with the spot price up 1.1 per cent at $1,759.05 per ounce — a new seven-and-a-half year high.

Mr Rennie said that while oil was buoyed by relief over the outlook for storage, the lure of gold was burnished by the re-escalation in US-China trade tensions and expectations — reinforced over the weekend by Mr Powell — that rates would remain low for longer as the world’s central banks extended easing measures to shore up the global economy.

Oil gains on signs of output cuts, improved demand

Oil prices rose slightly on Tuesday amid signs that producers are cutting output as promised just as demand picks up, stoked by more countries easing out of curbs imposed to counter the coronavirus pandemic.

Benchmark Brent crude climbed 7 cents or 0.2 percent to $34.88 a barrel by 0907 GMT, after earlier touching its highest since April 9.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was up 70 cents, or 2.2percent at $32.52 a barrel.

“The market sees both forces aligning: the cuts OPEC+ promised are materialising and other non-member production shut-downs are also really helping to limit the oversupply,” said Paola Rodriguez Masiu, senior oil markets analyst at Rystad Energy.

“Meanwhile, lockdown measures are removed globally and the economy needs fuel to restart.”

The June WTI contract expires on Tuesday, but there was little sign of a repeat of the historic plunge below zero seen last month ago on the eve of the May contract’s expiry amid signs of rising demand for crude and fuels.

The July WTI contract was up 12 cents per barrel at $31.77.

The market was boosted earlier by signs that output cuts agreed by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and others including Russia, a group known as OPEC+, are being implemented.

OPEC+ cut its oil exports sharply in the first half of May, companies that track shipments said, suggesting a strong start in complying with their latest pact to curb output.

U.S. production is also falling, with crude output from seven major shale formations expected to fall to 7.822 million barrels per day in June, the lowest since August 2018, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

A recovery in fuel demand in India also gathered momentum in the first half of May.

Still, global demand recovery is expected to be slow as some restrictions remain and there is a significant risk of repeat outbreaks and lockdowns.

The Eurasia group urged caution on oil consumption, citing “a global recession, cautious consumers, and a later and potentially worse peak of the coronavirus outbreak in emerging markets such as Latin America, Africa, and South Asia”.

US oil producers have been expected for some time to have to shut down oil production as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, but they were initially slow to move. Now that profitability and storage limitations have started to hurt, the curtailment wave has accelerated. A Rystad Energy analysis shows that gross US cuts could reach at least 2 million barrels per day (bpd) in June, including liquids.

Net oil production cuts could reach 835,000 bpd in May and 877,000 bpd in June, compared to around 256,000 bpd in April, according to Rystad Energy’s interpretation of early communication from 31 US oil producers.

This represents gross curtailments (including royalties to the government) of over 1 million bpd in both May and June, and at least 1.5 million bpd if total gross liquids output is considered. Adding the potential uncommunicated contribution from private and smaller operators, who are also likely to struggle, total Covid-19-related gross liquids output curtailments could easily hit at least 2 million bpd in June.

Nigeria’s first logistics marketplace, Dellyman sees double-digit growth amid lockdown

Dellyman, the pioneer of asset-free logistics marketplace in Nigeria, has seen record growth in all major indices, including a 45 percent increase in the number of active customers to 1,586 between March and April.

While this represents a 91 percent increase from growth in January, it is coming in a period when businesses in other sectors battle with the devastating impact of COVID-19 pandemic.

Logistics is an old sector that has grown over the years to contribute about 3.5 percent to the GDP of 2019. McKinsey in 2018 puts the eCommerce market in Africa at $25 billion and expected to grow to $75bn by 2025. In 2019, Nigeria’s eCommerce market was estimated at about $17 billion. Using an average basket size of $50 and 2 items in a basket, this could easily translate to about 170 million deliveries annually. Today, the average cost of a last-mile delivery is about $2.70 (N1,200) putting the value of the last mile logistics industry in Nigeria at $460 million.

Asset-free logistics marketplace is a new territory at least in Nigeria. To be sure, a marketplace is an online platform where customers and vendors or owners of products can transact business. Customers are able to access products from multiple merchants or vendors from this single platform.

In that sense, a logistics marketplace is an online space where customers looking for logistics services are able to access the assets of multiple logistics companies in one online market. The logistics marketplace aggregates logistics companies and their assets on a platform so that buyers of logistics services can find logistics services with ease.

Launched in March 2019, Dellyman set out to solve same-day, an age-long problem in the logistics sector that has had dire repercussions on the profit margins of players in the sector and ecommerce.

“Last-mile delivery is complex and tough and only an understanding of the deep problems faced by the market and service providers can help increase the possibility of same-day or even a next day delivery,” Dare Ojo-Bello, founder and CEO of Dellyman told BusinessDay.

Beyond impacting the downline of providers, failures in meeting same-day delivery have also left many individuals, retailers and organisations that placed orders frustrated. According to a survey by Convey, of more than 1,500 shoppers in 2018, about 98 percent said that shipping affects brand loyalty, and 84 percent said they are unlikely to return to a retailer after just one negative experience, a 34 percent increase from 2017.

“The model leverages cutting edge technology that guarantees quick pick up and same-day delivery; provides increased access to logistics assets through aggregation; delivers an on-demand delivery service while offering a delivery infrastructure to retailers and e-commerce platforms so they don’t have to own logistics assets or technologies,” Ojo-Bello said

Dellyman’s focus on the challenge has seen it grow its revenue 20 times between January and April 2020 with average monthly growth within the same period averaging 145 percent. The company now targets over 5,000 orders in May alone.

The platform has seen 20 average daily customer acquisition, with at about 38 per cent of the total active customers placing at least one order since coming onboard.

“The numbers we have seen within the past two months is a concrete validation of our business model. We had initially assumed that it is because of the lockdown alone, but we continue to see even a more increased adoption after the phased easing of the lockdown started. We are now looking to even expand our capacity to be able to keep up with the growing demand,” Ojo-Bello said.

Dellyman also secured a major partnership with fintech firm OPay, to boost its delivery assets by deploying some of the idle motorcycle assets from ORide. This saw an increase in the number of riders on the platform and over 3,000 orders completed by the first week of May 2020 – a 93 percent increase from February 2020.

Dellyman plans to expand its physical locations to Ibadan, Port Harcourt and Abuja immediately after the lifting of travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It hopes to complete roll out in five major cities by the end of 2020 and 20 major cities in Nigeria and at least 2 Africa countries by 2021. The expansion is to sensitise customers as well as onboard local logistics partners that will guarantee the supply of and availability of assets on the platform.

Lagos could lose almost N133bn everyday if it implements a total lockdown

Lagos State is unarguably the most populous and prosperity city in Nigeria and accounts for up to one third of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) according to Financial Times. Based on that assumption, Lagos is estimated to have an economic size of N48.5 trillion ($134.8billion) making it the 4th largest city economy in Africa behind Johannesburg, Cape Town and Cairo.

As the most populous city and the transportation hub in Nigeria, it is not surprising that Lagos is the worst hit city by coronavirus in the country, yet the government who had initially put Lagos on a partial lockdown to control the coronavirus outbreak is now gradually reopening the economy despite a rise in the number of new cases reported every day.

The reason is not far fetched as the local economy may have been hit even harder than the coronavirus outbreak in the State due to the lockdown. Daily economic output in Lagos is estimated to be around N133 billion, therefore a total lockdown to lead to a complete loss of all economic output. To put this into perspective, N133 billion lost every day in Lagos is the equivalent of snatching N5,600 out of the pocket of all 23.9million Lagosians.

The sheer size of this loss on a daily basis due to a prolonged lockdown could cripple Lagos economy and force companies to consider moving primary business locations out of Lagos due to fear of bankruptcy if they cannot operate in the State due to a lockdown. The partial lockdown is estimated to cost Lagos between N33-66 billion everyday in lost economic productivity as the skeletal operations of companies during the partial lockdown could cost business operations to drop to anywhere between 25-50% of normal operations.

This may explain the choice by Lagos to adopt a partial lockdown rather than a total lockdown which will have far reaching impact on economic productivity and internally generated revenue ( IGR). Lagos is among an elite group of States who can sustain state government activities using only IGR and a total or partial lockdown could hurt IGR collections for 2020, throwing the State’s financial position into distress.

As at Friday last week, there were about 2,099 reported coronavirus cases in Lagos with 33 deaths. Though the State government is worried about maintaining the health and wellness of its populace, it will be doing so knowing that considering a total lockdown could also snuff live out of the economy that 23.9 million people rely on to survive.

Oyo releases food advisory to boost immunity

Governor Seyi Makinde, on Monday, released a food advisory, which he said experts have certified as immune boosters that could help the human body prevent attacks of COVID-19.

The governor, who is also the chairman of the Oyo State COVID-19 Task Force, while addressing newsmen at the Government House, Agodi, Ibadan, on Monday, shortly after a meeting of the Task Force, said that the food advisory was certified by  Olatunde Farombi, a Professor of Biochemistry and Head of Department of Biochemistry, at the University of Ibadan.

A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Seyi Makinde,  Taiwo Adisa, also quoted the governor as saying that the state Task Force would reveal the identity of the company with 38 COVID-19 positive cases among its members of staff in Ibadan.

The governor also said that his administration was in talks with religious bodies over the possible relaxation of the ban on religious gathering.

He stated that he would meet with religious leaders before the end of the week to review procedures for reopening of religious centres.

The governor said: “We will issue an advisory based on the advice given by Professor Olatunde Farombi, a Professor of Biochemistry and Fellow, Nigerian Academy of Science.

“This is on foods and natural products useful as preventive measures against COVID-19 and other viral illnesses. For instance, we have bitter Kola, turmeric, zinc, ginger, garlic, citrus fruits and bitter leaf -“they are all readily available in our environment.”

Farombi had, in the paper submitted to the Task Force, said: “Our research group has investigated the above agents in the last 25 years with publications in recognised journals. Some of the works have led to the award of PhD thesis adjudged to be the best by NUC and the University of Ibadan. Some patents have also come out of these studies.”

The professor further stated: “Oxidative stress, hyper inflammation and compromised immune system are very common pathways by which coronavirus attacks the body system and people can then come down with the COVID-19.

“We have indigenous food substances and natural products available to people that have been shown experimentally to have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. They also serve as immunomodulators. They can be taken regularly as prophylaxis or as preventive measures against COVID-19 and other viral illnesses.”

Speaking further on the containment of COVID-19 in the state, Makinde said: “Regarding our directives on social distancing during this pandemic, we have received requests from religious leaders about relaxing the ban on gatherings to allow religious services to hold.

“We are currently in the accelerated phase in the transmission of Covid-19 in Oyo State and the expert advice is that transmission occurs more easily in enclosed spaces, so we cannot at this time relax this directive.

“However, the experts are carrying out a risk situation analysis and would be sending in their reports before the end of May, and this will determine our next steps.”

Also speaking, former Chief Medical Director of the University College Hospital (UCH), Professor Temitope Alonge, commended the state government for its support, noting that the discharge of 25 patients in 48 hours showed that the Task Force was on top of the situation.

He said: “On Saturday, 11 patients were discharged and yesterday, fourteen patients were discharged, making 25 within the space of 48 hours. And we expect that in another 24 hours, more patients are expected to leave the centre hale and hearty.

“What is more exciting is that before they leave, we also want to check their immunoglobin level, which is a reflection of how much antibody they have been able to muster against this virus. What we have found so far is that with good nutrition and with the regimen we have put in place, many of them are developing what we call protective antibodies and they are having high IGG values.

“But if for any reason, a patient has tested positive twice on admission, we repeat this regimen that I mentioned but we will continue with the zinc and vitamin C.

“So far so good, we are very grateful for the tremendous support of the state government in ensuring that the patients in isolation are doing well.”

Nigeria may need to kill unprofitable FPSO’s in this downturn. Here is the reason

Due to the impact of lower oil price, Nigeria might need to do away with some of its loss-making floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) projects most of which analyst has forecasted will end with negative cash flow this year.

Current lower oil prices due to the effect of coronavirus pandemic is causing economic headache for many FPSO operators but other challenges might also compound the problems.

Nigeria has four planned and five possible FPSO projects, representing 45 percent of planned and possible projects in Africa putting it ahead of its African peers however an impact analysis report by Rystad Energy has revealed the current oil price crash will reduce free cash flow of FPSO fields, which have produced above three-quarters of their original resources at just $2.20 per barrel this year.

“This is a jaw-dropping decline from 2019’s $11.10 per barrel,” Independent energy research and business intelligence company Rystad Energy said.

Rystad Energy estimated that at least 40percent of the 96 assets which have produced more than 75percent of their original resources will end 2020 with negative cash flow.

Rystad Energy expects oil price recovering next year and into 2022 which will take cash flow back to 2019 levels, however, as these mature fields see production stagnate, free cash flow will quickly return to a decline, ultimately threatening the profitability of many FPSO assets.

Estimated at over $23.5 billion, the FPSO projects in Africa’s biggest crude oil exporter were expected to assist the Federal Government of Nigeria to move the needle from 37 billion barrels to 40 billion barrels of oil reserves target and daily production of four million barrels per day (b/d).

“A concern arising for operators is whether the profitability of producing fields will degrade to such an extent that prematurely shutting down ageing fields will prove to be the most rational decision,” says Aleksander Erstad, a Rystad Energy service analyst.
The report noted that fields utilizing leased FPSOs are in the worst position, with around 70percent of late producing assets estimated to have net present values below zero which may not only put operators in an uncomfortable position but also FPSO suppliers, who are faced with two possible outcomes – none of which are favourable.

Current dire market conditions mean that upcoming FPSO sanctioning is at a minimum, and few opportunities remain for FPSO suppliers to find new work and redeploy their vessels.

“This essentially forces suppliers to accept a day-rate reduction in order to keep their vessels working,” Rystad Energy said.
The Net present value (NPV) which is the difference between the present value of cash inflows and the present value of cash outflows for late producing fields with leased FPSOs is currently estimated at -$2.90 per remaining barrel, while the overall figure for all FPSOs stands at $3 per remaining barrel.

“Although positive overall, our analysis of the 96 FPSO fields that have already produced more than 75percent of their original resources shows that 30percent to 40 percent of those are estimated to have negative NPV,” Rystad Energy said.

FPSOs range in size from 50,000 barrels tankers with capability to process 10,000 to 15,000 b/d to Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCC) size units able to process more than 200,000 b/d and store 2 million barrels (such as the Bonga FPSO off Nigeria will be able to produce 225,000 b/d).

Lagos eyes full re-opening of economy, embarks on businesses’ readiness assessment

Lagos State government says it is working to fully re-open critical sectors of its economyThe state governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, stated this on Sunday during an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, adding however, the move would not be pushed in a hurry. Sanwo-Olu said in the coming days, the state government would be rolling out Register-to-Open initiative as part of the plans that would enable it assess the level of readiness of the players in the identified sectors for supervised operations.

Sanwo-Olu said officials from the Lagos State Safety Commission (LSSC) and Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) would be visiting restaurants, companies, religious houses to assess their level of readiness.With the size of the state’s economy and numbers of businesses that operate in its domain, the governor said the government could not afford to keep people and businesses on lockdown permanently.

“We are at a level where we are reviewing the other arms of the economy. In the coming days, we will be starting what we call Register-to-Open, which means all players in the restaurant business, event centres, entertaiment, malls and cinemas will go through a form of re-registration and space management.“There is a regulation that will be introduced to supervise this move. We will be coming to their facilities to assess their level of readiness for a future opening. I don’t know when that opening will happen in the weeks ahead, but we want these businesses to begin to tune themselves to the reality of COVID-19 with respect to how their work spaces need to look like.“For us, it is not to say they should re-open fully tomorrow or any time; there has be a process guiding the re-opening. We will be mandating LASEPA and Safety Commission to begin the enumeration process and the agencies will be communicating with all relevant businesses and houses in the days ahead. I must, however, caution that this should not be misinterpreted as a licence for full opening; it is certainly not. The State’s economy is not ready for that now,” he said.Sanwo-Olu added that the government agencies would also be visiting places of worship to evaluate their level of preparedness ahead of full reopening. He stressed that social distancing and hygiene would be fully considered in determining whether mosques and churches can re-open in the future.“We are reviewing and considering how the phased unlocking will happen. If we see huge level of compliance, then it can happen in the next two to three weeks. If not, it could take a month or two months. It is until we are sure all of these players are ready to conform to our guidelines,” he asserted.Sanwo-Olu urged businesses, religious houses and residents to maintain the status quo while the state works out modalities for full re-opening.The governor disclosed that all the 10 staff of the Government House who tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19) had fully recovered and returned to their beats. He said the disclosure was necessary to further promote transparency in the reporting and management of coronavirus cases by the state government.He urged banks and markets to strictly enforce orderliness in their premises. He directed that elderly people must be given the priority to transact their businesses in bank and markets between 9am and 10:30am, after which other younger customers should be allowed to transact.Lagos residents, the governor charged, must not take the easing of lockdown for granted, saying everyone residing in the State must collectively take responsibility for public health safety.He reiterated that the use of face mask in public places is compulsory, while disclosing that the State had distributed a million free face mask to residents in the last two weeks. Thousands more will be distributed in the course of the week, the Governor said . Sanwo-Olu said those walking in public places without face mask are risking their lives, urging residents to fully comply with public health guidelines.The governor, however, frowned at laxity observed in the enforcement of ban on inter-state movements. He also said commercial buses still lag in complying with spacing of passengers and 60 per cent load capacity. Sanwo-Olu said: “We are not happy with the level of compliance by yellow buses despite assurance from their union. We do not want to use force to drive compliance; we want it to be self-compliant. We have also not seen the level of compliance we wanted for inter-state travels. We are seeking collaboration with Ogun State government and the police to ensure obedience to the directive on this.”Sanwo-Olu said the state’s whistleblowing policy had yielded encouraging feedbacks, adding that incidents reported by whistleblowers had helped the Government to further drive compliance in business places.

Anap foundation seeks balance between public health and economic activities

Anap Foundation’s Covid-19 taskforce is calling on the government to monitor and define the extent to which it will modify partial lockdowns so as to allow for some economic activities that will ensure the right balance between public health and economic sustainability

In a statement Sunday, the foundation said “whilst the easing and modification of lockdown measures have met with varying degrees of success, we underscore the need to increase the intensity of a sound and effective communication strategy which ensures that the public is alive to the dangers of COVID-19 and its potential for exponential growth if we let our guard down.“

It warned that the “unchecked behaviour and violations of public health advice regarding minimising physical and social contact, observing personal hygiene e.g. failure to wash hands frequently and/or use sanitizers and/or wear cloth face coverings in public will lead to the rapid spread of COVID-19.”

The foundation noted the recent clamour by religious leaders to allow physical congregation since limited economic activities have commenced.

According to Anap foundation, “worship can take place personally, at home or virtually and we firmly believe that it is not yet time to allow congregational religious activities. Religious and social gatherings, ceremonies and economic activities which have a strong propensity for physical contact should not be the priority at this time.”

The foundation recommended the intensification of behaviour change communication campaigns on physical distancing, hand washing and wearing cloth face coverings in public in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

It called for the lifting of curfew where they exist or for it to be limited to the hours of 11pm to 5am as well as the increase in business hours allowable including reserving one or two hours for the elderly especially in banks and supermarkets in consideration of their extra vulnerability to Covid-19.

Dangote Cement donates patrol cars to Ogun Security Trust Fund

Dangote Cement plc has donated 25 operational cars, fully equipped with security features, to the Ogun Security Trust Fund (OSTF) as part of its strategic Corporate Social Responsibility towards maintaining security of lives and property.

The donation was a fulfillment of a pledge made by the immediate past group managing director (GMD) of the company, Joseph Makoju, who had promised the state government that Dangote Cement as a responsible corporate citizen would partner the government in ensuring the much-desired security is maintained in the state and its environs.

Presenting the cars to the OSTF in Lagos on behalf of the management of Dangote Cement plc, Emmanuel Ikazoboh, independent non-executive director, said the donation was informed by the need to boost the Fund’s operation because security is essential to economic development.

“No investor will be willing to put his/her funds in an economy where insecurity is rife with lawlessness and chaos as the order of the day. We are major investors in Ogun State and as such we prefer a state of orderliness and sound security which allows businesses to thrive,” Ikazoboh said.

Ogun Security Trust Fund was established in 2011 and refined in 2019 by Governor Dapo Abiodun. The objectives of the Fund include the maintenance of security and welfare of citizens.
“I recall that on October 6, 2019, our then group managing director, Engr. Joe Makoju, made a pledge on behalf of the company to present operational vehicles to the Fund. As a corporate socially responsible organisation, the security and well-being of our host communities remain utmost in our minds,” he said.

Ikazoboh said a major step towards encouraging investments and creation of employment is promoting and ensuring adequate security in the environment.

“This is why we at Dangote Cement fully appreciate your state government’s several initiatives in the promotion of security and a safe operating environment for business,” he said.

He explained that government alone could not continue to bear the full cost of meeting the expectations of the entire populace in the provision of basic necessities like health, education and security for the citizenry, adding that this thought gave rise to Public Private Partnerships, where private sector collaborates with public sector in the provision of essential services.

“Our desire to partner government or the public sector informed our interventions such as Itori-Ibese Road, Apapa-Wharf Road and Obajana-Kabba Road,” Ikazoboh said.

Opeyemi Agbaje, executive secretary of the Fund, who received the keys to the cars, expressed the appreciation of the Ogun State government to the management of Dangote Cement plc, saying the gesture would go a long way in helping the Fund achieve its core mandate of maintaining security with ease.

“When you do a fund raiser, we are used to the Nigerian phenomenon, where it’s very easy to make a pledge and when it is time to redeem, it becomes difficult. We are happy that this is a fulfilment of a pledge made sometime ago and it is happening in our very eyes,” Agbaje said.

He promised that the cars would be maintained and put to judicious use, saying the Fund would not disappoint the company on the partnership.

Speaking further, Ikazoboh said Dangote Cement was also at the forefront of combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have adopted several protocols such as social distancing, provision of temperature scanners, hand sanitisers, face masks and sick-bays, designed to secure the health of our staff at the cement plants. We have provided basic necessities to prevent infection and transmission of the virus in our plants,” he said.

Ikazoboh called on all other responsible corporate social bodies like to join in supporting the Ogun Security Trust Fund through provision of necessary operational tools.

“This collective support, we believe, will go a long way to ensure adequate security for all stakeholders in Ogun State,” he said.

Financial Times Ranks Lagos Business School as Best Executive Education Provider in Africa

Lagos Business School’s Custom Executive Education has been adjudged number one in Africa and among the top 50 in the world by the Financial Times (FT).

This is the 14th consecutive year the School is featuring on the list.

The combined ranking which evaluates the performance of top 50 business schools across the world in the areas of Open Enrolment and Custom Executive Education puts Lagos Business School (LBS) at the 47th position.

On the Custom ranking table, LBS is the 1st in Africa. It holds the 41st spot globally, moving seven places up from its 48th position in 2019.

In Open Enrolment, LBS ranks among top business schools like University of Oxford: Saïd and IESE Business School.

LBS Dean, Professor Enase Okonedo said, “We are incredibly proud to be recognised by the Financial Times of London for the 14th year in a row. At Lagos Business School, we actively seek and remain conscious of the unique needs of organisations and their executives; our Executive Education programmes are designed to address them.”

“This ranking comes at a time when the world is witnessing an unprecedented pandemic challenge and its attendant fallout. For us at LBS, it presents another opportunity to help business leaders and managers navigate this challenge; this recognition by FT validates our ability to deliver,” she added.

Lagos Business School attracts hundreds of participants to its open enrolment and custom programmes annually. Its programmes are designed to meet the needs of diverse participants and in line with the rapid changes in Africa’s business environment.