09 Feb

Daily Watch – Tomato imports next up for the chop, NCC fine shifts MTN into red

  • Nigeria will increase customs duties for tomato imports and waive tariffs for some farming equipment to stimulate local production and investment in the agriculture sector, its trade and industry minister said on Wednesday. “We are going to go up. We will be announcing what the new tariffs are but clearly, there is a new set of tariffs,” Okechukwu Enelamah told reporters, without giving details. Customs duties on some greenhouse equipment currently amounting to as much as 20 percent would be removed. “We are going to restrict imports of finished tomato products that can be produced locally,” the minister said. The country has been trying to encourage local food production in order to reduce a costly import bill and end its reliance on oil exports. But an artificially high exchange rate has dried up the supply of hard currency, forcing the temporary shutdown of two local tomato paste plants dependent on imports in recent months.
  • Agusto & Co., a Nigerian credit rating agency has released its 2017 insurance sector outlook. The “Insurance Industry Report” by the firm unveiled in Lagos recently estimated a gross premium income growth of eight percent for the insurance sector this year. The firm based its projection on a probable devaluation of the nation’s currency, anticipated increase in infrastructure during the year as well as continued growth in life business in the sector. The firm anticipated that profits in the sector would be upheld by increased investment income due to rising interest rates, but moderated by rising claims payments. It pointed out that the industry’s low penetration rate (GPI as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product) of 0.4 percent, presents huge growth opportunities. The credit rating firm examined the financial condition of 45 insurance companies (25 non-life insurers, 10 life insurers, eight composite insurers and two reinsurers), operating in the country, with emphasis on various aspects of their financial performance including; capital adequacy, profitability, investment management, risk retention and exposure, liquidity and cash flow, as well as staff productivity. According to the report, in terms of risk underwriting, the insurance industry underwrote risks of over ₦300 billion in 2015 through motor, oil and gas, general accidents, fire, marine, aviation, life insurance, among others. In the area of risk indemnification, the report reflected that at about 28 per cent GPI, over ₦100 billion generated was estimated to have been paid out as claims. The Nigerian insurance industry directly employs 6,400 persons and expended an estimated ₦29 billion in employee-related costs in 2016.
  • A gradual decline in the spate of gas pipeline vandalism seems to be rubbing off on the power sector as the latest industry data obtained shows that electricity generation peaked at 3,730.5 megawatts on Tuesday. From the data, peak electricity generation has hovered above 3,600MW since the beginning of February. Data from the National Control Centre on Sector Reform/Activities for February 6, 2017, indicated that Egbin and Olorunsogo I power plants increased their functionality with the addition of an extra turbine. Power generation had peaked at 4,160.4MW on January 1, 2017, but subsequently fell to 1,072.4MW on January 12. The country’s electricity grid has witnessed a series of fluctuations occasioned by several hitches in the system, including power load rejection and limited gas supply needed to fire gas turbines. The hitches resulted in several system failures as the grid collapsed four times in January alone. Industry operators blame gas supply hitches to the power plants as the major problem that has continued to drag down electricity generation across the country. According to them, gas pipeline vandalism, particularly in the Niger Delta, has severely impacted the performance of the power generation companies.
  • The MTN Group expects to report a full-year loss due to a $1 billion regulatory fine in Nigeria and under-performance there and in its home market of South Africa, it said on Wednesday, sending its shares to a two-month low. Nigeria is MTN’s most lucrative but increasingly problematic market, hobbling its growth outlook. But the appointment of banker Rob Shuter, who starts next month, as chief executive, is expected to bring operational strength and step up Africa’s biggest telecoms company’s hunt for returns, possibly in financial services. MTN, which makes a third of its revenue in Nigeria, said it expects a headline loss and will issue a further trading statement on the likely range within which its headline loss is expected. MTN agreed in June to pay Nigeria a ₦330 billion ($1.05 billion at the time) fine for missing a deadline to cut off unregistered SIM cards from its network.The fine, which was originally set at $5.2 billion, shaved off 474 cents per share from headline earnings per share, a primary profit gauge that strips out certain one-off items.
  • The GbarainUbie power plant being built by the Niger Delta Power Holding Company in Bayelsa under the National Integrated Power Project would be ready for commissioning by the end of Q1 2017, according to the NDPHC Managing Director, Chiedu Ugbo. He said during the inauguration of the presidential initiative on solar homes systems in Wuna Village Gwagwalada, Abuja that the completion and commissioning of the plant would add an additional 252MW to the national grid. Work on the plant which has Rockson Engineering as its engineering, procurement and construction contractor has stalled for years. Shell committed in 2015 to be the plant’s sole gas supplier. Gbarain is designed to process one billion standard cubic feet of gas daily.
  • The Lagos State Ministry of Education has laid out plans to train at least one million Lagos residents to code by 2019 and also foster necessary skills to create sustainable solutions to social challenges and create employment opportunities. The government also announced the commencement of the screening and selection exercise for facilitators for the programme, called CodeLagos. In April 2017, 300 Coding Centres across six Education Districts in Lagos State will be commissioned, according to the education ministry, marking the beginning of the CodeLagos after-school programme in both public and private schools – primary, secondary & tertiary. Centres will also be set up at state public libraries and other community spaces. Speaking at a press briefing, the Special Adviser to the governor on education, Obafela Bank-Olemoh, said that; “CodeLagos will not only cultivate a savvy workforce to drive our mega-city, but it will generate employment and business opportunities as we mobilise up to 1,500 facilitators in 2017 alone.” The application portal, Bank-Olemoh said, opened on Tuesday, February 7, 2017, and is accessible here.