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NPA boss pledges effective service delivery in ports

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The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms Hadiza Bala-Usman, has given an assurance of the agency’s determination to ensure effective service delivery in all Nigerian ports.

Bala-Usman reaffirmed the commitment in a statement signed by Mr Adams Jatto, General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communication, NPA in Lagos on Friday.

The statement quoted Bala-Usman as giving the assurance while receiving members of the House of Representatives Committee on Ports, who paid working visit to the NPA.

She was represented by the Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Mohammed Bello-Koko, at the event.

According to the managing director, NPA has the intention of making the nation’s maritime sector more competitive and a hub in the sub-region.

She said that the authority was working to reduce the dwell time of cargo at the ports and embrace multimodal transportation through the use of locomotive trains and barges.

Bala-Usman said that the multimodal transportation would also help in the evacuation of cargoes in and out of the ports to the hinterlands.

“Over 95 per cent of the cargoes coming into the ports are taken through trucks, and that is not efficient.

“There must be multimodal means of transportation to include trains and barges in order to reduce congestion and we are working toward this,” she said.

Also, the Chairman of the committee, Mr Garba Datti Muhammad, told stakeholders that the visit to the ports was to avail the committee with the workings there.

Muhammad said that the committee would also find out ways that the House could enhance port operations.

He thanked the NPA management for the cooperation that the committee had received from the organisation, saying that it had brought members up to speed in terms of the operations of the agency.

“It is necessary for members to see things for themselves and also meet with the operators so that we can better appreciate activities and operations of not only the NPA, but also terminal operators and other service providers,” Muhammad said.

The chairman said that the visit was to appraise the 2019 budget performance in line with the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) during the 2020 budget presentation.

He commended NPA management for the positive developments in the sector since Bala-Usman’s assumption of office.

Muhammad assured NPA management of the committee’s willingness to partner with the authority toward improving the maritime sector, given its importance to the national economy.


Edited by Olawunmi Ashafa/Oluwole Sogunle

Economy

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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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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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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Economy

Coca-Cola CEO, James Quincey in Africa, Defines Region as Company’s Future Growth Driver

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The Global CEO and Chairman of The Coca-Cola Company (https://www.Coca-ColaCompany.com/), James Quincey culminated in a tour of Africa last week. Accompanied by his extended leadership team, the visit was a testament of Coca-Cola’s commitment to Africa and its interest in the vast opportunity that the continent presents in driving the beverage company’s overarching growth strategy over the next decade.

Visiting Nigeria and South Africa, Quincey met with business and political leaders as the company scales up investments and looks forward to continued growth on the continent. Key among his engagements were discussions with Africa’s foremost entrepreneur and industrialist Dr. Aliko Dangote who stands out as an example of indigenous African investors who are driving growth across the continent.

Other engagements included meetings with top executives from Discovery Group, MTN, Unilever and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, and thought leaders such as Tony Elumelu (Chairman of Heirs Holding), Doyin Salami (Chairman of Nigeria’s Economic Advisory Council) and Fred Swaniker from the Africa Leadership Academy. These engagements provided Quincey and his team with critical insights about Africa’s opportunities.

“Having operated in Africa for over 90 years as a local business in every country, we believe Africa is a region that will increasingly influence the growth trajectory of our global businesses in just a few years,” he said. “Together with our bottling partners, we continue to reinforce our stake on the continent by accelerating investments that strengthen and scale our capabilities and expand into new businesses to drive our Total Beverage Company aspiration.”

Quincey highlighted a number of positive and encouraging developments across Africa which he described as important foundations for strong economic growth and, if sustained, will fast track the continent’s role as a global growth engine. These include the growing scale of domestic investments by African investors across sectors and the potential of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

Added to these were Africa’s positive consumer demographics, the infrastructure expansion in many countries, and the growing emphasis on building African talent.

“It is clear that Africa is indeed a region that will increasingly influence the growth trajectory of global businesses and we have taken some bold measures to strengthen the Coca-Cola System in Africa for long term growth, enhancing our capacity to continue to win in the continent’s increasingly competitive landscape.”

He outlined the company’s growth plans in Africa, including continuously investing to boost capacity ahead of demand, consolidating the bottling system to build scale and investing in new businesses to accelerate growth and expand its beverage offering. He also cited Coca-Cola’s role in spurring Africa’s economy through the eco-system the company has built and continues to foster investments across multiple sectors on the continent.

Underpinning this, he emphasized that the Company is committed to building a talent engine in Africa, creating shared opportunities to enhance the prosperity of communities across the continent.

“We have an enduring belief that our business is only as sustainable as the communities in which we operate, that means for our business to grow sustainably, our communities must grow also.”

This is the strong motivation for the significant investments the company continues to make across Africa to help build more resilient communities, enabling the economic empowerment of women and youth downstream and upstream of Coca-Cola’s supply chain; providing access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities through its Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN); supporting governments to strengthen health systems through Project Last Mile and the Safe Birth Initiative; and addressing environmental concerns particularly around plastic packaging with its World Without Waste vision.

Said Quincey: “Over the past 90 years together with our bottling partners, we have built pervasive and very strong local businesses, creating shared opportunity in every country on the continent. This has been one of our greatest strengths and we will continue playing a significant role in Africa’s sustainable and inclusive growth”.

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