31 May

Daily Watch – Senate halts Eni refinery deal, CcHUB set for Europe roadshow

  • Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has signed two new laws that would help facilitate access to more affordable credit facilities for businesses in the country. The acts include the Secured Transactions in Movable Assets Act, 2017 (otherwise known a Collateral Registry Act) and the Credit Reporting Act, 2017. The new laws are part of the FG’s reforms aimed at easing business operations in the country. While the Collateral Registry Act ensures that Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) can register their movable assets and use same as collateral for accessing loans, the Credit Reporting Act provides for credit information sharing between Credit Bureaus and lenders and other institutions that provide services on credit.
  • The Senate has halted a concession agreement with the local division of Italian oil company Eni to repair, operate and maintain Port Harcourt refinery, saying the deal lacks transparency. Nigeria has been seeking investment in its energy sector to reduce reliance on imported oil products that consume a large part of the country’s foreign currency reserves. It has a refining capacity on paper of 445,000 barrels per day, but imports most of its gasoline needs because its refineries have been shut or running at reduced capacity for years due to neglect. Eni said in May it was in talks to work with Nigerian energy company Oando on the deal as part of an effort to increase refining levels. Members of the Senate voted to back the motion brought by Senator Sabo Mohammed. The motion was titled: “Non-transparent transaction relating to the planned concession of the Port Harcourt refinery to Agip and Oando by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.” Agip is a subsidiary of Eni. The Senate will now set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the concession award.
  • Nigerian lawmakers passed a bill aimed at cracking down on money laundering by urging foreign countries where currency crooks are hiding to cooperate in prosecuting them. According to the bill, Nigeria may ask any country where a money launderer is hiding to help it prosecute the offender, or prosecute that person itself. In the second case, Abuja would supply the country with evidence to support a conviction. “This act will facilitate the needed cooperation with other states to prevent individuals from escaping prosecution by fleeing to another country,” said Senate President, Bukola Saraki. The bill was originally presented by President Muhammadu Buhari, who was elected in May 2015 after vowing to fight corruption.
  • In compliance with an executive order issued by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, the Nigerian Ports Authority has commenced the implementation of new security protocols in all the seaports in the country. By implication, all touts and hawkers are now banned in the port, while clearing agents and motor-boys will be stopped from hanging around and constituting crowd in the port. A statement by the agency quoted Hadiza Bala Usman, the NPA’s managing director as directing full and immediate compliance with the executive order by all officials of the agency. As part of the implementation process, the surveillance of illegal vessels movement by Command, Control, Communication and Intelligence (C3I) Centre and regular patrols of waterfront and common user areas and terminals by joint security teams has already started. As part of moves to ensure seamless operations at the port, a joint patrol team comprising NPA Security, Port Authority Police, Customs and DSS will be constituted to carry effective patrol in the Port on an hourly basis. A security operations room will also be established to monitor all port activities.
  • Co-creation Hub (CcHUB) and Google for Entrepreneurs have announced the launch of PitchDrive, a three week, five-city European tech hub tour across London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Zurich and Paris. This partnership will bring 15 elite African tech companies together to pitch to investors, explore international opportunities and learn about frontier technology markets, and raise a minimum of €20 million for African start-ups. African startup founders looking to raise Series A funding and above will be selected by the PitchDrive team to embark on a landmark tour that aims to build stronger networks between European investors and African tech talent. Starting in London on August 14, the cohort will visit Google’s Campus London, TQ Amsterdam, Factory Berlin and Impact Hub in Zurich, concluding at NUMA Paris. Upon completion of the tour, the inaugural cohort will have pitched to over 300 investors, with the specific goal of raising over €20M in the three week period. This is the first tour of its kind to connect African tech companies with European capitals, and the PitchDrive team is aiming to open up the sector to investors who want to build their portfolios to include emerging markets. According to CcHub, applications are now open for African tech startups who are in a position to fundraise at seed stage and above. Those looking to apply must have been running for at least two years, and be a legal, registered enterprise able to demonstrate a minimum of 12 months revenue-generating operations and must be based in Africa.