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Nigeria’s financial inclusion rate now 63.2% – CBN report

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Monday said the country’s financial inclusion rate stood at 63.2 per cent in 2018.

The bank said this in the 2018 Annual Report on the National Financial Inclusion Strategy Implementation posted on its website.

The CBN said the figure showed a marginal increase of 4.8 per cent from 58.4 per cent in 2016 to 63.2 per cent in 2018.


The bank said that the figure was achieved through its biannual financial inclusion survey conducted within the period reviewed.

It added that the measurement also disaggregated financial inclusion data on state-by-state level for the first time.

The regulator said the data showed significant improvement in the North West and North East zones with the two zones being more disproportionally excluded than any other zone.

They both stood at 62 per cent and 55 per cent exclusion rates respectively.

It said: “The Southwest remained the only region to have surpassed the targeted 20 per cent exclusion rate by 2020, with 19 per cent exclusion rate recorded in 2018.’’

The CBN described 2018 as an important year that brought a massive shift in financial inclusion policy approach.

It added that it was the ‘Year of Landmark Financial Inclusion Policies and Initiatives in addition to being a measurement year.’

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the overall objective of financial inclusion is to bring the undeserved segment of the population into the formal financial system by providing them with access to financial services.

It said improved access to finance was an important factor in accelerating sustainable economic growth, reducing poverty and unemployment, and enhancing the stability of the financial sector.

The financial inclusion is the provision of a broad range of financial services which are relevant, appropriate and affordable for the entire adult population especially the low income and rural segment of our population.

Such services include, but not limited to: savings, credit, insurance, payments, remittances and pensions. (NAN)

LED/AWA/EMO

Edited by Olawunmi Ashafa/Ejike Obeta

Economy

Maritime: NIMPORT urges responsible adoption of Blue Economy ideals

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A ports and terminals promotion body, the Nigerian International Maritime Ports and Terminals (NIMPORT) has called for caution by the Federal Government before actualising the ideals of the Blue Economy in the nation’s maritime sector.

The NIMPORT Chairman, Mr Fortune Idu, made the call in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Lagos on Thursday.

Idu said that a necessary precursor to proper adoption of the blue economy ideals was a safety and environmentally-friendly policy.

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), which is the apex regulatory and promotional maritime agency in Nigeria, has over time and in diverse national and international forums expressed its commitment to the ideals of actualising the blue economy.

NIMASA defines the blue economy as dealing with the totality of all economic activities associated with the oceans, seas, harbours and coastal zones.

It also includes aquaculture, biomedicine, boats and shipbuilding, ship repairs, defence and security, amongst others, all geared toward wealth and job creation for the growth and development of the Nigerian economy.

“Going blue economy is all about full utilisation, optimisation or exploitation of the resources under the water. There is need for it to be done responsibly.

“When a safety and environmentally-friendly policy is put in place, it will protect human beings and protect the ecosystem first, before the exploitation of the country’s water resources takes place,’’ Idu said.

According to him, the first step is not just to dive down the water and start to excavate whatever is there but for us to design a process that is environmentally-friendly and has a lot of safety implications.

The NIMPORT chairman urged the government through NIMASA to undertake research into the full implications of actualising the blue economy before advancing with its commitment.

“For a country like Nigeria that is blessed abundantly with a lot of solid mineral resources; on the surface, I think going a bit further to find out what the ocean or the water has for us and beyond just using it as a means of transportation, could be interesting.

“This is interesting in the sense of the opportunities for diversification of economic options. However, my advice is before we go into this area, we need to think deeply and do a lot of research work.

“We should understand that anything done to alter or change or influence the ecosystem of the water, the aquatic system, is something which becomes very difficult to revert, especially when it comes to pollution,’’’ he said.

Idu pointed out that going into research was essential because the country was already saddled with trying to clean up pollution as regards oil spillage and all other forms of industrial pollution on our waters.

He noted that the country’s water banks today were filled with a lot of solid waste, some of which were non-degradable materials like plastic and they had yet to be cleared.

He said that going under the water to exploit would technically affect the ecosystem of the water, saying that part of the air that we breathe actually came from activities within the water.

“All the fishes that live in the water and all the other living organisms in the water help to support the general ecosystem of where we live.

“We are healthier when our waters are healthy, so it is very important that we look and do whatever we have to do responsibly,” Idu said.

The NIMPORT chairman said that exploitation was basically a business venture but protection was normally not a business venture.

He noted that most business people did not look at the initial consequences of their actions because they were more focused on profitability.

Idu urged NIMASA to put in place a policy that would protect the maritime environment, saying that the protection would have to come in form of regulation.

Edited by Oluyinka Fadare/Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)

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OPEC+ likely to extend oil supply cuts until June – sources

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OPEC and its allies are likely to extend existing oil output cuts when they meet next month until mid-2020, with non-OPEC oil producer Russia supporting Saudi Arabia’s push for stable oil prices amid the listing of state oil giant Saudi Aramco.

OPEC meets on Dec. 5 at its headquarters in Vienna to be followed by talks with a group of other oil producers, lead by Russia, known as OPEC+.

The current oil supply cuts run through to March 2020.

On Dec. 5, Saudi Arabia is set to announce the final pricing of the initial public offering of Aramco in what it hopes will be the world’s largest IPO.

The oil price at the time is likely to be key to Aramco’s listing, expected around mid-December.

“So far, we have two main scenarios: either meet in December and extend the current cuts until June or defer the decision until early next year, meet before March to see how the market looks and extend the cuts until the middle of the year,” said an OPEC source.

“It is more likely that we will extend the agreement in December to send a positive message to the market. The Saudis don’t want oil prices to fall, they want to put a floor under the prices because of the (Aramco) IPO.”

OPEC sources said market conditions in the first quarter of 2020 remain unclear amid concerns of a slowdown in oil demand and weak output compliance by some producers such as Iraq and Nigeria, which is complicating the outlook.

An OPEC delegate said: “My feeling is that (an extension) to end-June to avoid meeting again early March, with the possibility of calling for an (earlier) meeting should market conditions require it … is the likely scenario as of today.”

The two sources said formally announcing deeper cuts looked unlikely for now although a message about better compliance with existing cuts could be sent to the market.

Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s de facto leader, wants to focus first on boosting adherence to the group’s production-reduction pact before committing to any more cuts, they said.

“The Saudis want to see how the rest of those who are not complying (with the cuts) do first. There are no numbers being circulated so far for deeper cuts or changing output quotas,” said the first OPEC source.

Amrita Sen, co-founder of Energy Aspects think-tank, which closely watches OPEC and Saudi oil policies, said a mere extension by OPEC+ of the existing output cuts until June might not be enough to support oil prices.

“The market expects a further cut and an extension until the end of 2020. In any other scenario, the market will sell,” she said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin set the tone for the December meeting last week, calling Saudi Arabia’s position ahead of the talks “tough”.

Moscow argues that it will find it hard to cut oil production voluntarily during the cold winter months, especially in western Siberia, where Russia produces two-thirds of its oil and where most of its well rigs are located.

Freezing temperatures make it difficult for Russia to shut in and restart wells in winter months.

“There is no doubt that Russia won’t let the Saudis down in case of a price collapse given the upcoming IPO,” said one source familiar with Russian thinking.

He added that Putin had developed close ties with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Russian government was aware that the three-year-old partnership could fall apart if Russia did not support Riyadh.

The OPEC+ alliance has since January implemented a deal to cut output by 1.2 million barrels per day to help boost oil prices trading now at 62 dollars a barrel.

Edited by Abdullahi Mohammed/Tajudeen Atitebi (NAN)

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Economy

Beauty West Africa Exhibition: Visitors queue to get free haircuts

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As the 2019 Beauty West Africa exhibition entered its second day in Lagos, some visitors at the fair queued at the stand of Wahl Clipper Corporation to get  free hair cuts from international barbers.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the U.S.A-based firm displayed its clipper range and other hair dressing professional tools at the exhibition, in which numerous exhibitors are participating.

The Regional Sales Manager of Wahl, Mr Kunal Vimal, told NAN that the stand had received about 500 visitors since the opening on Nov. 20.

Vimal said that the company was open to receive more distributors to come on board, which was one of the reasons they were participating in the beauty fair.

“So far, we have had about 500 visitors at the stand to see our products and also indicate interest to do business with us, especially becoming distributors of our brands.

“We are also giving free haircuts to participants who visit our stand free-of-charge by our best barbers from Germany and Dubai.

“The barbers are part of Wahl’s Education and Training Team (WEAT). Each hair cut from where these barbers are based attracts minimum of €100 (one hundred Euros) but it is free for Nigerians,” he said.

The regional manager said that Nigerians were very particular about their looks, which stood them out globally.

He thanked the organisers of the exhibition for the opportunity to interface with Nigerians in the beauty and cosmetics industry.

A visitor, Mr Jude Eze, said that he had a haircut before coming, but when he saw the job done on someone at the stand, he could not resist another trim.

NAN reports that the 2019 Beauty West Africa Exhibition and Conference, which is the second in its series, started on Nov. 20, and will end on Nov. 22 at the Landmark Events Centre.

The exhibition was put together by the BtoB Events, organisers of the West Africa Automobile Show and Food and Beverage West Africa Exhibitions, to bring international brands into Nigeria for cross-border business opportunities.

Edited by Cecilia Odey/Oluwole Sogunle (NAN)

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ADB introduces new loan pricing for higher-income countries, economies

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) says it approved the introduction of diversified financing terms for its developing member countries and economies, with higher income sub-groups paying higher maturity premiums for longer-term loans.

The Manila-based bank said in a statement released on Thursday that the new pricing structure will be effective on Jan. 1, 2021.

Recipients of the loans and grants from the ADB are classified under groups A, B, and C, according to their per capita income levels and creditworthiness.

The bank said only members in the three groups have access to loans and grants.

“Some of them will not be affected because they are vulnerable countries such as small island developing states.

“The list of countries under each category will be updated before the effectivity of the diversification with the latest Gross National Income (GNI) per capita data,’’ the ADB said.

The financing terms offered to Group A and B countries and economies are already diversified with a combination of grants, concessional loans and market-based loans.

Group C countries have a wider spread of per capita incomes but are all offered the same financing terms.

In the new pricing framework, the ADB said Group C countries would be divided into several sub-groups according to their GNI: lower-middle-income, upper-middle-income and high-income.

Higher-income sub-groups will pay higher maturity premiums for longer-term loans, the ADB added.

For instance, it said upper-middle-income countries with GNI per capita of $6,976 to $12,375 (in 2018 prices) will pay up to 30 basis points additional maturity premium depending on the loan tenor.

The ADB said the new pricing framework would provide more favourable terms to more vulnerable countries such as Small Island developing states and countries transitioning from Group B to Group C.

It said the additional income from the new pricing would supplement existing Technical Assistance Special Funds to support policy advice, institution building and knowledge sharing in ADB’s developing member countries and economies.

The pricing framework will also help build reserves for expanding ADB’s lending capacity in the long term, it added.

“The current flat pricing structure offered to our recipient countries borrowing only market-based loans does not reflect the high level of diversity among these countries in their income levels, capacities to mobilise domestic resources and access to capital markets,’’ said ADB President Takehiko Nakao.

“The new structure will enable us to continue engaging with countries at a more advanced stage of development on terms that remain fair and competitive with other multilateral development banks and contribute to ADB’s long-term sustainability.’’

The ADB said this reform reflects a regional landscape that had changed over the past 50 years.

“The situation in Asia and the Pacific region is now different compared to 1966 when ADB was established.

“Most ADB recipient countries are currently middle-income countries.

“These countries, though with relatively higher income and strong financial capacity, still need ADB’s support to tackle pockets of poverty, strengthen institutions and address climate change as well as other areas with externalities,’’ the ADB further said.

Established in 1966, the ADB encompasses 68 members, with 49 from the region.

Edited by Fatima Sule/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Economy

Anglo-South African Investec reports 17% fall in first half profit

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Anglo-South African financial services firm, Investec, said on Thursday its first half profit fell 17.2 per cent.

Headline earnings per share, the main profit measure in South Africa, stood at 22.7 pence in the six months to Sept. 30, compared with 27.4 pence a year earlier.

The bank’s adjusted basic earnings per share, which reflect profits made in the course of ordinary operations, were down by four per cent from 30.1 pence last year to 28.9 pence this year.

Edited by Abdullahi Mohammed/Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)

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Economy

Oil drops amid new concern over prospects for U.S.-China trade deal

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Oil prices edged lower on Thursday as fresh tensions between the United States and China over ongoing protests in Hong Kong fueled concern that a long hoped-for deal to end a trade war between the world’s top two economies may be further delayed.

Trade experts have warned the first phase of a deal could slide into next year, while markets are wary negotiations might take a hit as the U.S. House of Representatives passed two bills to back protesters in Hong Kong, much to the disapproval of China.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 dipped 22 cents or 0.35 per cent to 62.18 dollars a barrel by 0611 GMT, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 fell 20 cents or 0.35 per cent to 56.81 dollars per barrel.

Both benchmarks had risen strongly on Wednesday on bullish U.S. crude inventory data.

“Overnight, we saw a rebound of about three per cent in crude futures after a reduction in U.S. inventories,” said Hue Frame, portfolio manager at Frame Funds in Sydney.

“The volatility today can be attributed to concerns surrounding the ‘phase one’ of the U.S.-China trade deal being delayed into 2020.”

The trade war has hit global growth prospects and dominated the outlook for future oil demand, and U.S. President Donald Trump has said he is inclined to raise tariffs on Chinese imports if a trade deal is not reached.

“Market participants … hope that the slowdown in global growth will subside if a deal is struck,” said portfolio manager Frame.

“If (the deal is) delayed, they would more than likely sell off crude with the expectation that global demand for oil will decline during 2020 and beyond.”

The subdued mood took over from optimism after U.S. crude stocks rose by a less-than-expected 1.4 million barrels in the week to Nov. 15, data from the Energy Information Administration showed.

“It was a fall in stockpiles at the key pricing point of Cushing that drove prices higher (on Wednesday),” ANZ Research said. Crude stocks at the U.S. delivery hub of Cushing, Oklahoma, fell by 2.3 million barrels.

Elsewhere, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries have “a common goal” of keeping the oil market balanced and predictable, and Moscow will continue cooperation under a global supply curbs deal.

The impact of that on the market was welcome, but limited, sector watchers said.

“Russian commitment on an extended supply curb deal, though supportive of oil prices, will continue to struggle against headwinds on global trade issues,” said Benjamin Lu, analyst at Singapore-based brokerage Phillip Futures.

Edited by Abdullahi Mohammed/Tajudeen Atitebi (NAN)

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