23 Nov

Daily Watch – US & Nigeria ink investment dialogue MoU, Ekiti reads riot act to micro-finance banks

  • Facebook will open a “community hub space” in Nigeria next year to encourage software developers and technology entrepreneurs and become the latest technology giant to pursue a training programme in fast-growing Africa. The tech giant said the centre would host an “incubator programme” to help develop technology start-ups, while it will also train 50,000 Nigerians in digital skills. Facebook did not provide details of the period over which its planned training would take place in Nigeria. Facebook said the training – aimed at software developers, entrepreneurs and students – would be offered in cities including Abuja, Port Harcourt, Calabar and Kaduna.
  • Swiss-based trading firm Trafigura’s aggregate direct purchases of crude, refined products and natural gas from national oil companies, including Nigeria’s, rose in 2016 to a third of its traded volumes, up from about a quarter in 2015, according to the company’s annual responsibility report published on Wednesday. In its 2016 annual financial report, Trafigura said oil purchases had increased significantly from Russian state firm Rosneft and the United States after the country removed a ban on crude exports. It said volumes out of the Middle East also rose. In 2016, Trafigura bought 1.5 million barrels per day of oil from national oil companies out of its total oil volume of 4.3 million bpd, according to its disclosures on payments to governments for oil. In 2015, Trafigura said it exchanged about 2,000 bpd of refined products with EITI country Nigeria as part of a swap scheme. In 2016, the company said it purchased about 8,000 bpd of crude from Nigeria state firm NNPC. Trafigura has been involved in a crude-for-product swap scheme in Nigeria for several years.
  • The United States and Nigeria have signed an MOU on Commercial Investment Dialogue to strengthen bilateral investments and promote private sector involvement in the bilateral commercial relationship. At a meeting convened by the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission to discuss the modalities of the dialogue in Abuja, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Seward Jones, said the two countries would identify barriers to investments and trade as well as opportunities in mutual investments and trade. An NIPC deputy director, Bala Bello said a secretariat will be set up to monitor and evaluate progress by the private sector on investment relations between the two countries. Jones said the two countries would prioritise investments in key sectors such as agriculture, infrastructure and digital economy.
  • Annabelle Degroot, acting managing director, Anheuser-Busch InBev Nigeria, a beverage company, says it is committed to long-term investment in Nigeria. Speaking at a media briefing in Lagos on Wednesday, Degroot said consolidation of its business operations in Nigeria is a testament to this commitment. Degroot said the company’s growth trajectory included creating value for individual consumers and the Nigerian economy at large. In June, International Breweries, Intafact Beverages and Pabod Breweries, three subsidiaries controlled by AB InBev announced plans to consolidate their operations, subject to regulatory and shareholder approvals. Degroot said the merger had reached the final stage and is expected to be wrapped up in December.
  • Ekiti Governor Ayodele Fayose has ordered the closure of any micro-finance bank shortchanging its customers in the disbursement of the second tranche from a CBN loan scheme to SMEs. The governor gave the order on Wednesday when he met with the management of the banks and some aggrieved customers in Ado-Ekiti. The state had been given ₦500 million in the first tranche and a similar amount in a second tranche out of the ₦2 billion it is expected to receive from the programme. Some customers had complained that they were paid much less than what they signed for.