13 Oct

Daily Watch – Intels and NPA on war path, Truecaller to open Nigeria office

  • Nigeria’s overnight lending rate dropped to 20 percent on Thursday on the expectation that a cash squeeze will ease after money market rates more than doubled the previous session. The CBN has kept liquidity tight to support the currency, leaving its benchmark interest rate on hold at 14 percent this year. It also aims to keep rates high to attract foreign inflows into its bond market to boost dollar liquidity. “The market is a bit tight because of FX purchases which mopped up (naira) liquidity,” one trader said. The overnight rate closed at 44 percent on Wednesday after banking system liquidity hit a debit of ₦265 billion, traders said. Tight liquidity continued on Thursday with the market in debit of ₦243 billion although the central bank repaid some treasury securities. Though rates could go back up if a ₦60 billion treasury security offered by the central bank on Thursday worsened the cash squeeze.
  • Intels Nigeria has kicked against the termination of its Pilotage Agency Agreement by the Nigerian Ports Authority. The company described the action as “preposterous” and highly injurious to Nigeria. The company was reacting to a decision of the NPA to terminate the agreement between the agency and Intels, subject to the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari, on the recommendation of Attorney-General Abubakar Malami, several months after both parties had disagreements over the company’s operations in Nigerian ports. Online newspaper, Premium Times, reported in June that the Nigerian government was making moves against Intels, partly owned by former Nigerian vice-president and a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Atiku Abubakar. In a letter, the logistics firm said the action by NPA would force it to reconsider its multi-billion dollar investment at the Badagry deep seaport in Lagos, adding that the investment would have created thousands of direct and indirect jobs for Nigerians.
  • President Muhammadu Buhari has re-appointed Uchechi Orji as managing director, Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority. Orji was first appointed in October 2012 for a term of five years, renewable for another term. “Under his leadership, the NSIA has made remarkable strides, and its assets now stand at over $2 billion, which is invested in Nigerian infrastructure, economic stabilisation and future generation funds,” Buhari’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, noted. The renewal of Orji’s appointment of Orji was endorsed in July by the national economic council “given his performance and in line with section 16(2) of the NSIA Act.”
  • Backward integration in the cement industry is saving the country up to ₦240 billion annually, Lafarge Africa has said. According to the firm, local manufacture of cement has also seen installed capacity increase from two million to 32 million metric tonnes since backward integration began in the sector in 2002. The Director of Procurement, Lafarge Africa, Lolu Alade-Akinyemi, was quoted to have said this during a breakout session on backward integration in manufacturing at the ongoing 23rd Nigeria Economic Summit. Alade-Akinyemi also said that increased local capacity in cement manufacturing had so far attracted $6bn in investments.
  • Truecaller is looking for an African headquarters in a bid to increase its presence on the continent. According to CCO Ted Nelson, the company will also be recruiting for a Business Development Director and Sales Director to drive business on the continent. South Africa and Nigeria are Africa’s two biggest economies but also have the highest number of cold and spam calls according to a recent study conducted by the firm. The two, followed by Kenya and Egypt rank among the top 20 countries in the world for unwanted spam calls. The Truecaller app, which allows people to see who’s calling and filter out spam calls and SMS, has more than 50 million users in Africa. The service is helping users block more than half a billion spam calls on a monthly basis in the region, and more than 50 percent of all messages being filtered is considered as spam.