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Economy: We’ll take advantage of Intra-African Trade Fair – Buhari

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President Muhammad Buhari
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President Muhammadu Buhari has assured participants at the 2nd Intra-African Trade Fair 2021, that his delegation is attending with ‘‘full force’’ to maximize the advantage of the gathering.

Malam Garba Shehu, the president’s media aide, said in a statement in Abuja, that Buhari stated this while addressing the opening ceremony of the event in Durban, South Africa, on Monday.

The President said: ‘‘Let me assure you that Nigeria has come to Durban in full force to actively participate in this very important trade fair and take full advantage of all the opportunities it will provide.

‘‘We have streamlined the country’s participation under one roof to enable you access all the information you need.”

He expressed optimism that the creation of the biggest free trade area in the world, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), would work, especially with the active collaboration of the public and private sectors.

The president canvassed support for the implementation of the free trade initiative, listing several benefits to the continent, including doubling trade in 10 years and reducing over-reliance on imports.

The Nigerian leader expressed concern that most of Africa’s existing challenges, whether security, economy, or corruption, could be traced to the inability over the years to domesticate the production of most basic requirements and provide jobs to her teeming and dynamic youth population.

‘‘Under the African Continental Free Trade Area, we can double our intra-African trade by 2030, reduce our reliance on imports and therefore create more jobs within the continent.

‘‘We cannot achieve this goal by talking alone. The implementation will be a difficult journey. But all challenges are surmountable if both the public and private sectors collaborate.

‘‘On the public sector side, Governments must support local entrepreneurs to build scale and therefore improve productivity.

‘‘This means providing incentives to encourage our businesses to formalise and comply with laid down regulations,’’ he said.

On the rules of engagement for the free trade initiative, President Buhari reminded fellow Heads of State and participants at the trade fair, that:

‘‘Free trade must also be fair and fairness can only be achieved when there is full compliance with regulations, especially those relating to rules of origin.

‘‘The AfCFTA is for ‘made-in-Africa’ products and services.

‘‘Africa must be a marketplace where no country is left behind. As we implement, we must ensure that we create jobs and enhance revenues for all parties.

‘‘We must leverage on one another’s strengths to succeed.”

He also called on businesses in Africa to key into existing regional value chains or build new ones, either to extend operations into the higher value segments of their industries or to satisfy the Area’s rules of origin requirements.

The Nigerian leader expressed delight that the Intra-African Trade Fair is uniquely positioned to help in these areas.

The President stressed that the Nigerian economy under his administration had witnessed a re-engineering.

‘‘As many of you are aware, in the past five years, Nigeria has made significant strides towards the diversification of her economy from an oil revenue-dependent country to a nation with diverse revenue sources.

‘‘We were able to achieve this by putting in place fiscal, monetary and trade policies that support investments and investors in key sectors such as agriculture, mining, telecommunications and digital economy, banking and financial services, tourism, and manufacturing,’’ he said.

While declaring that Nigeria is open for business, the President highlighted that progress is being made in the reforms of key institutions, the fight against corruption as well as the ease of doing business in the country.

He congratulated the African Union Commission, the AfCFTA Secretariat and the Africa Export-Import Bank for their dedication and relentless effort in seeing the Trade Area become a reality.

‘‘Today is a great day for Africa as we start our collaborative journey towards collective economic prosperity through the African Continental Free Trade Area.

”I very much look forward to seeing more African products manufactured in Africa using African resources.

‘‘I also commend the people of Durban for hosting this year’s Intra-African Trade Fair. I sincerely hope that we will witness milestone agreements among African businesses at this gathering.

‘‘Through these gatherings, we will be laying a solid foundation for future business-to-business, business and government, and government-to-government co-operation,’’ he said.

President Buhari’s expectation of a good performance by Nigerian businesses at the Durban Fair is hinged on the outcome of the last edition in Cairo, Egypt, at which they got deals worth over US$ 3.3 billion.

Current records show that Intra African trade accounts for only 15 per cent of their transactions.

 

 

 

(NAN)

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Business & Economy

We Have No Magic Wand, Tackling Inflation Will Take Time — Cardoso

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Yemi Cardoso,CBN Governor
Yemi Cardoso,CBN Governor
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The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Olayemi Cardoso has urged the citizens to be patient over the fight against current inflation and hike in food items in the country.

Cardoso disclosed this while briefing journalists at the end of the Monetary Policy Committee, MPC, meeting in Abuja.

The CBN governor mentioned that there was no magic needed to solve inflation in Nigeria but rather patience.

Also, Cardoso noted that despite pressure from food inflation, the general inflation rate was “moderating”, pointing out that “the tools the Central Bank is using are working”.

He stated, “I have several times and I will say again, there is no magic wand. These are things that need to take their time.

“I am pleased and confident that we are beginning to get some relief and in another couple of months we will see the more positive outcomes from the Central Bank have been doing.”

He added, “The committee thus reiterated several challenges confronting the effective moderation of food inflation to include rising costs of transportation of farm produce, infrastructure- related constraints along the line of distribution network, security challenges in some food producing areas, and exchange rate pass-through to domestic prices for imported food items.

“The MPC urged that more be done to address the security of farming communities to guarantee improved food production in these areas.

“Members further observed the recent volatility in the foreign exchange market, attributing this to seasonal demand, a reflection of the interplay between demand and supply in a freely functioning market system.”

The Central Bank of Nigeria has also blamed the recent volatility of the country’s foreign exchange market on seasonal demand for dollars.

“Members further observed the recent volatility in the foreign exchange market, attributing this to seasonal demand, a reflection of the interplay between demand and supply in a freely functioning market system,” a communique issued by the committee on Tuesday stated.

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Business & Economy

Port Harcourt Refinery Begins Full Operations Next Month

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Port Harcourt Refinery
Port Harcourt Refinery
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The 210,000-barrel-per-day Port Harcourt refinery is expected to commence operations by the end of July, following multiple delays.

National Public Relations Officer of the Independent Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief Ukadike Chinedu, revealed this new timeline on Monday. He noted that the refinery’s operation would boost economic activities, reduce petroleum product prices, and ensure an adequate supply.

In December last year, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Heineken Lokpobiri, announced the mechanical completion and flare start-off of the Port Harcourt refinery, the largest in the region.

The refinery consists of two units: an older plant with a 60,000-barrel-per-day capacity and a newer plant with a 150,000-barrel-per-day capacity. The refinery was shut down in March 2019 for the first phase of repairs after the government enlisted Italy’s Maire Tecnimont as a technical adviser and appointed oil major Eni as a technical adviser.

On March 15, 2024, NNPC Limited’s Group Chief Executive Officer, Mele Kyari, announced that the Port Harcourt refinery would begin operations in about two weeks. He made this statement during a press briefing following his appearance before the Senate Ad hoc committee investigating the various turnaround maintenance projects of the country’s refineries.

“We achieved mechanical completion in December,” Kyari stated. “We now have crude oil stocked in the refinery and are conducting regulatory compliance tests. The Port Harcourt refinery will start within two weeks.”

However, two months later, the refinery had yet to commence operations.

In an interview, IPMAN’s Ukadike emphasized that the work done on the refinery represented a complete overhaul rather than mere rehabilitation. He assured that every effort was being made to meet the July deadline.

Ukadike said, “When we visited, the MD informed us that the refinery was nearly ready and would start production by the end of July. The overhaul is extensive, with all the armoured cables replaced and everything almost brand new. The maintenance turnaround is massive, with work being done day and night. All hands are on deck to meet the target. By the end of July, the refinery should be operational.”

When asked about the government’s previous unfulfilled promises to restart the refinery, Ukadike acknowledged the delays but noted that no reasons were given for missing the last deadline in April

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CBN Halts 0.5% Cybersecurity Levy

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CBN Headquarters Abuja
CBN Headquarters Abuja
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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has withdrawn the circular directing banks to implement a 0.5 per cent cybersecurity levy on electronic transactions in the country.

The CBN announced this in a revised circular dated May 17, 2024.

The circular was addressed to commercial banks, Payment Service Providers (PSPs), non-interest, and merchant banks, among others.

It was signed by the CBN Director of Payment Systems Management, Chibuzor Efobi, and the Director of Financial Policy and Regulation Department, Haruna Mustafa.

The circular read: “The Central Bank of Nigeria circular dated May 6, 2024 (Ref: PSMD/DIR/PUB/LAB/017/004) on the above subject refers.

“Further to this, please be advised that the above-referenced circular is hereby withdrawn.”The withdrawal of the circular on the cybersecurity levy followed its suspension by President Bola Tinubu.

it would be recalls that Tinubu suspended the controversial cybersecurity levy on electronic transfers on May 14.

Minister of Information and National Orientation Mohammed Idris, who made this known while speaking to journalists after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, disclosed that Tinubu directed the CBN to suspend the implementation and review the modalities for the implementation of the levy.

Idris added that the levy was thoroughly discussed at the FEC meeting, saying the president was not oblivious to the feelings of Nigerians.

It would be recalled that CBN, in a circular dated May 6, directed banks to start charging a 0.5 per cent cybersecurity levy on all electronic transfers.

The apex bank stated that the deduction and collection of the cybersecurity levy is a sequel to the enactment of the Cybercrime (prohibition, prevention etc) Amendment Act of 2024.

This was greeted with wide condemnations by Nigerians, with many groups and individuals calling for the immediate reversal of the levy.

The House of Representatives also asked the CBN to withdraw the directive.

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