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Economy

CCNN, BUA Cement win EMEA Finance’s best Africa merger award

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The 1.1 billion dollars merger between the Cement Company of Northern Nigeria (CCNN) and BUA Group’s Kalambaina Cement has won the “Best Merger & Acquisition Deal in Africa” award at the EMEA Finance Achievement Award.

O’tega Ogra, Group Head, Corporate Communications, BUA Group, said on Sunday that the award was presented to the company in London by the EMEA Finance.

EMEA Finance reports on major financial events initiated and influenced by the international financial industry active in Europe, Middle East, and Africa.

Speaking on the award, Chimaobi Madukwe, Group Chief Operating Officer, BUA Group, expressed gratitude to EMEA Finance for the award, describing it as a global nod to the expansion programme of the BUA Group.

Madukwe reiterated BUA’s commitment to ensuring high capacity utilisation, efficiency and better quality of its products with its investments in cement manufacturing in Africa.

“As a brand, this is a very big achievement for BUA. And we thank EMEA Finance for the award.

“The award is highly competitive, and for BUA Group’s investment and achievement in the cement sector to be recognised in this manner, it gives the management of CCNN and BUA a satisfaction that our strategy to expand beyond the shores of Africa is realisable,” he said.

He said the merger described as the biggest in 2018 further reaffirmed CCNN’s position as the market leader in the North West regional market with huge export opportunity to countries like Niger and Burkina Faso.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had in Dec. 2018 approved the merger of the 500,000 metric tonnes per annum CCNN and 1.5 million metric tonne per annum Kalambaina Cement.

Economy

FEC approves €500m facility to finance industrialisation projects, MSMEs

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The Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari has approved a 500 million Euros loan to finance industrialisation projects and support Micro-Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMES) value chains in Nigeria.

The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mr Clement Agba, disclosed this after the FEC meeting on Wednesday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

According to the minister, the loan will be secured from the the Credit Suisse AG London to support industry; revitalise ago-industrial processing zones and facilitate the creation of new jobs.

“Council today approved the issuance of a sovereign guarantee of 500 million Euros from the Credit Suisse AG London Branch and a syndicate of international lenders as collateral for 500 million Euros facility to the Bank of Industry.

“The loan is basically to finance major industrialisation projects and micro-small and medium enterprises value chains in Nigeria for up to five years tenure at affordable rates.

“These rates are single digit rates; the guarantor of the loan shall be the Federal Republic of Nigeria and its going to be executed through the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

“The main objective of the loan is to support industry; revitalise ago-industrial processing zones; to facilitate the creation of new jobs.

“We do believe that about 1.2 million jobs will be created through this facility; increase the income of farming communities and promote the inclusion of SMEs and small holder producers in the industrial value chain and the deployment of transportation infrastructure that connect farming communities to processors and market,’’ he said.

Agba said that the loan would be swapped to Naira by the Central Bank of Nigeria to mitigate the foreign exchange risk.

He said that the fund would, therefore, be available to Nigerian enterprises at a more affordable rate and in local currency.

On his part, the Minister of Power, Mr Sale Mamman, said that the FEC approved a memo by the ministry seeking for the release 2 million dollars as part of Nigeria’s contribution to the West African Power Pool.

Edited by Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)

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Economy

Build quality into your products, NAFDAC tells owners of SMEs

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The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) on Wednesday told a section of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) owners to invest more in quality during production.

The Director, Regulations and Registration, Dr Monica Eimunjeze, gave the advice at the opening ceremony of the 2nd Beauty West Africa (BWA) organised by BtoB Events in Lagos.

Eimunjeze, while speaking on ‘Product Registration and Government Regulations: The SME’s Survival Guide’, told participants that it was important to apply good manufacturing practice in production.

“It is absolutely important to apply Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) in the production process, whether you are in cottage of micro scale.

“When you talk about testing, if you have got it wrong during your production process, no matter the number of times you get it tested, you cannot fix it.

“You cannot test quality into a product, you have to build quality into a product. The laboratory testing is just to make sure that the product is of quality.

“So, if you miss it during the production process, maybe you have over mixed something that should be less, we cannot fix it,” Dr Eimunjeze said.

She urged owners of SMEs not to patronise touts during the registration processes of their product.

Eimunjeze said that obtaining certification of a product went beyond obtaining the NAFDAC registration number, as there were routine checks to ensure the quality of the product was consistent.

The Chief Executive Officer, HealthPlus Limited, Mrs Bukky George, during her presentation on ‘We are Nigerians and Proud! Our Success Story and Brand’s Case Study’ said that entrepreneurs needed to adopt new technologies.

George said that entrepreneurs should intentionally grow their businesses, otherwise, the businesses would die.

“Technology is key to develop your business and to scale up your retail business too.

“Nigerians like to see others do a particular business and they all want to do the same, but you need to differentiate your business, there are too many ‘me too’ businesses.

“If you do not intentionally grow your business, it will die eventually. So, it is important to plan to be relevant always,” she said.

The Managing Director of BtoB Events, Mr Jimie Hill, said that the purpose of the exhibition and conference focusing on the beauty industry in Nigeria became relevant considering its huge market.

Hill said: “The Nigerian beauty market has been the most impressive and collective in terms of their hair and beauty products, natural products and comestics.

“The Nigerian beauty industry is worth around $4bn annually, so, it’s really exciting and impressive and we just really want to help facilitate that growth; it will grow on its own, but we want to create a platform for people to come together,” Hill said.

The organising partner, Mrs Tokunbo Chiedu, Chief Executive Officer of Compass Global, said that start-ups across Nigeria needed an interface with the rest of the world through exhibitions.

Chiedu said that the event would afford Nigerian beauty industry players the platform to grow their businesses and partner international brands.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the 2019 Beauty West Africa, organised by U.K based BtoB Events, was held in collaboration with two leading comestics brands, Lyla Blanc and Cantu Beauty from India and U.S.A respectively.

The exhibition, which started on Wednesday, will continue till Friday at the Landmark Event Centre, in Lagos.

Some 200 exhibitors are taking party in the event.

Edited by Oluwole Sogunle (NAN)

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Economy

Border closure: Association calls for joint patrol between Nigeria, neighbouring coutries

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The Association of International Trade and Investment Promoters of Nigeria (AITIP of Nigeria), has called for a regular joint patrol and meetings between Nigeria and neighbouring countries to resolve issues that led to closure of Nigerian borders.

The Association made the call in a statement signed by its president, Prof. Kabiru Isa in Abuja on Wednesday.

Isa explained that there was the need for those countries that shared border with Nigeria to always discuss issues around border security, import and export of goods prohibited by each country.

He said with this was the best for all countries to strengthen brotherhood.

“The effort by the Federal Government to encourage consumption of locally produced items such as rice through the border closure is highly commendable.

“This step will protect and encourage local producers to continue to produce local brand of rice and the positive multiplier effect into the economy cannot be over emphasised,’’ he said.

He, however, said the decision to close filling stations around the border areas of 20kms distance had no doubt increased hardship to the existing hard times being experienced by those living around these communities.

According to him, the government can as well control the sale of these products in these areas by taking statistics of their daily or weekly requirements and allow only that quantity to be lifted from a particular designated marketer and delivered to those areas.

He added that this could be done with a very close supervision from an independent group and security agencies in order to safeguard against diverting the products.

“AITIP of Nigeria is ready to engage with relevant government agencies for further strategic discussions on the land borders closure matter and other international trade and investment issues in the best interest of the Nigerian economy and beyond.

“We believe that the present government would not want strategic issues to be exposed to the print or electronic media but prefer to discuss them at strategic meetings,’’ he said.

Isa further said the action by the Federal Government to close borders had no doubt had its consequences.

He noted that the worse hit by the border closure was the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) which survival depended largely on importation or exportation of goods such as ginger, and sesame seed among others which passed their goods through these borders.

Edited by Ese E. Ekama (NAN)

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Economy

Lagos govt. reiterates plans to fast-track industrialisation, development

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Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State says his administration remains committed to the holistic implementation of policies that would fast-track development of the state, making it desirable for investment.

Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs Folasade Jaji, emphasised the commitment at the 2019 Africa Industrialisation Day/ Young African Industrialists Week, with the theme: Positioning African Industry to Supply Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The governor lauded key stakeholders for their contributions to the development of the industrial sector, particularly the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), in spite of the harsh business environment.

“Considering the erratic and turbulent macro economic environment under which our industrialists operate, kudos should be given to stakeholders that have continued to remain in operation and contribute to the socio-economic development of the state.

“In the light of this, the provision of promotional tools that encourage the establishment and growth of businesses remains one of the major priorities of this administration.

“I assure you that we shall continue to formulate and implement policies and programmes that would consolidate the position of the State as the industrial and commercial hub of Nigeria,” he said.

The governor urged each state of the federation to initiate policies and programmes that would engender the development of the non-oil sectors as a panacea to the present economic downturn.

Also at the event, Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives of the state, Dr Lola Akande, called for the evolution of internal policies to act as catalysts for local industries to benefit from the opportunities available in the AfCFTA.

Akande revealed that the event included the exhibition of locally fabricated machines, equipment and innovative projects from schools in Lagos to create the desired linkages between machine producers,  manufacturers of goods and end users.

She enjoined stakeholders to take advantage of the opportunity and make efforts to create the necessary synergy that would lead to value addition on the path to industrialisation, economic recovery and growth.

“The state government is aware of the challenges of industrialisation and for this reason has continuously keyed into programmes that are capable of boosting the potential of the private sector and creating a conducive business environment.

“The state has consistently supported the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) by devoting trade fairs to them.

“We have taken a step forward to at this forum include the exhibition of locally fabricated machine and innovative projects from schools in Lagos,” she said.

Mr Ibukunoluwa Akinrinde, Technical Anchor, Trade, Industry and Investment Policy Commission of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) urged Lagos to champion more public – private infrastructural partnerships.

This, he said, was necessary to address the various challenges affecting the manufacturing sector and properly position the country for the benefits of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement.

Akinrinde also called for an export review within the context of a trade policy framework to help keep up with the dynamism of world trade activities.

Mr John Aluya, Vice President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), said the manufacturing sector would be faced with very stiff competition, should the AfCFTA be implemented at the moment due to the challenges facing the sector.

He called for trade facilitation infrastructure, trade research programmes, reviewed and harmonised trade policies and a strengthened business environment to unleash manufacturing sector potentials.

“Cost of production must be reduced and an increased capacity building exercise must be in place to understand trade origin mechanisms to enjoy this AfCFTA,” he said.

Edited by Jane (NAN)-Frances Oraka/Oluwole Sogunle

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Economy

Unity Bank deepens advocacy initiatives for stronger climate action

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Unity Bank says it is in partnership with Avant-Garde Innovation and Technology Services (AGITS) to deepen advocacy initiatives for stronger climate action that will entrench values and ethos for achieving Sustainable Development Goals in the country.

A statement by the bank on Wednesday quoted Mrs Tomi Somefun, Managing Director, Unity Bank Plc, as stating this in Lagos at a roundtable discourse with the theme: “The Future of Sustainable Development in Nigeria: Achieving Economic Growth with Low Carbon Trajectory in a Circular Economy.”

Somefun said that the discourse provided the platform for stakeholders to evaluate developmental activities impacting on climate change and opportunities in a green economy as a means of improving environmental sustainability.

She said that a green economy would address global warming, rising sea levels, pollution, desertification and deforestation, and determine effective response to promote community action, protect the environment and advance sustainable development.

Somefun, represented by Usman Abdulqadir, Executive Director, Risk Management and Compliance, stressed the need for increased stakeholder engagement on sustainable development to deepen commitments towards promoting climate change initiatives.

“It is the hope that while sharing experiences on actions to protect the earth for future generations, the platform is capable of harnessing ideas to forge common action points and convergence for policy makers, entrepreneurs, sustainable development experts and other organisations playing pivotal roles to solve problems threatening the sustainability of the planet earth.

“Having promoted sustainable practices in agriculture over the years, and its commitment to sustainability, Unity Bank appreciates the need to create more awareness, engagement and collaboration in the execution of sustainability initiatives, thus the roundtable is not only relevant but timely,” she said.

Somefun recalled that in 2018, Unity Bank won the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) award on ‘Sustainable Transaction of the Year in Agriculture’ in recognition of the bank’s initiatives to promote sustainability initiatives and impact in the agricultural space.

Edited by Oluwole Sogunle (NAN)

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Economy

Nigerian selected among 10 startsup by Dubai Chamber of Commerce

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A Nigerian, Mr Kenneth Obiajulu-Okonkwo, and five other Africans have been selected among 10 startups by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the other five are from the UAE.

Obiajulu-Okonkwo, who is the co-Founder and Managing Director of FarmCrowdy Nigeria, prior to their selection, participated in the first-ever Chamberthon, which took place in Kigali, Rwanda earlier this year.

NAN also learnt that during the Chamberthon, 20 UAE and African startups worked together to develop the structure and criteria of the Global Business Forum (GBF) Mentorship Programme.

FarmCrowdy is focussed on providing major processors and international buyers the opportunity to buy commodities directly from farm clusters through technology.

Obiajulu-Okonkwo told NAN at the forum on Wednesday in Dubai that his company had optimised the market access to African farmers and also improve their income by at least 40 per cent.

“FarmCrowdy Africa brings the farmers closer to the processors and off-takers by eliminating the layers of intermediaries in the value chain.

“Our business model focus on identifying major processors and international buyers for certain commodities through their platform and identifying the production clusters and building relationships with local farmers in those areas.

“It also involves getting major processors to place orders via the platform and aggregating the commodities from smallholder farmers.

“The forum pays attention to the unique specifications of the buyers and delivery of the commodities to the major processors or the international buyer’s agent,’’ he said.

Obiajulu-Okonkwo said that he was excited with the opportunity given to him by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum to speak at his stand.

“It also afforded me the opportunity to showcase my business concepts and solutions at the forum,’’ Obiajulu-Okonkwo told NAN.

The President of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Hamad Buamim, said the selection of startups was an important step forward in establishing bridges of communication and cross-border cooperation between UAE and African startups.

Buamim pointed out that many of the selected startups specialised in advanced technologies, smart solutions, artificial intelligence and fintech.

He added that collaboration in these key areas would pave the way for mutual benefits and growth for both business communities.

“Startups are playing an active role in fostering innovation as they leverage and test out cutting-edge technologies that improve the way we live and work.

“The GBF Mentorship Programme provides an ideal platform for high-potential startups to develop their business concepts, benefit from collaboration, access new growth opportunities through the Global Business Forum on Africa platform and build valuable partnerships.

“Such efforts complement Dubai Chamber’s programmes and initiatives offered to entrepreneurs through Dubai Startup Hub,’’ Buamim said.

Edited by Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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