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Facebook includes Nigeria, others in its undersea cable

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Facebook Inc and some of the world’s largest telecoms carriers, China Mobile Limited and MTN Group Limited, are set to build a wider-than-earlier planned giant sub-sea cable in Nigeria and other parts of Africa

On inauguration, the subsea cable will  join  five other international submarine cables, with over 40 terabyte per seconds  (Tbps) of capacity, including SAT3 cable, MainOne cable, Glo1 cable, ACE cable and WACS cable, landed by Natcom, MainOne, Globacom, Dolphin Telecom and MTN.

Already, capacities of these submarine cables are under utilised as about 30 per cent of total capacity is currently in use. A group, Association of Cable operators of Nigeria (ASCON) two years ago, said less than 10 per cent of the five cables is in use.

The companies plan to add the Indian Ocean island countries of Seychelles and Comoros, as well as Angola and a new connection to Nigeria, the company said yesterday.

This is in addition to a recently announced link to the Canary Islands and would bring connection-landings to 35 in 26 countries.

“The significant investment by Facebook in 2Africa builds on several other investments we have made in the continent, including infrastructure investments in South Africa, Uganda, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo,” a Facebook spokesperson said via email.

The undersea cable sector is experiencing a resurgence, with Facebook and Alphabet Inc.’s Google behind about 80 per cent of recent investments in transatlantic links. The tech giants are seeking to tap growing demand for fast-data transfers used for everything from streaming movies to social messaging and telemedicine. During the 1990s dot-com boom, phone companies spent more than $20 billion laying fiber-optic lines under the oceans.

The project is part of Facebook’s long-held plans to lead the race to provide more reliable and faster internet in Africa, a continent of more than 1.2 billion people with an increasing up take of smartphones. The U.S. social-media giant first announced plans for a new undersea cable in May 2020. That followed attempts to launch a satellite in 2016 to beam signal around the continent — but the SpaceX rocket carrying the technology blew up.

2Africa, set to be one of the largest subsea cable project in the world, will cost just under $1 billion, Bloomberg reported last May, citing people familiar with the matter. Manufacturing of the first segments of the infrastructure has started in the U.S., according to the statement. Nokia Oyj’ Alcatel Submarine Networks was picked to build the cable.

The marine surveys for the new sections of the cable will probably be completed by the end of the year, according to the companies. The 37,000-kilometer (23,000 miles) long cable will connect Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

2Africa is expected to come into operation by 2024 and will deliver more than the combined capacity of all sub-sea cables that are currently serving Africa, according to the statement. Other project partners include Telecom Egypt Co, the U.K.’s Vodafone Group Plc and Paris-based Orange SA.

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Business & Economy

Port Harcourt Refinery Begins Full Operations Next Month

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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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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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CBN Issues July 7 Deadline For PoS Operators’ Registration With CAC

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The Central Bank Of Nigeria (CBN) has issued a July 7, 2024 deadline for Point of Sales (PoS) operators to complete registration with the Corporate Affairs Corporation (CAC).

This was revealed during a meeting between Fintechs and the Registrar-General/Chief Executive Officer (CAC) Hussaini Magaji (SAN) in Abuja on Tuesday.

Speaking at the event, the CAC boss said the two-month timeline to register their agents, merchants, and individuals with the commission, was “in line with legal requirements and the directives of the Central Bank of Nigeria”.

“The measure aims at safeguarding the businesses of Fintech’s customers and strengthening the economy,” a statement titled ‘CAC, PoS OPERATORS AGREE TO TWO-MONTH DEADLINE TO REGISTER THEIR AGENTS AND MERCHANTS TO STRENGTHEN THE FINTECH INDUSTRY‘ issued by the CAC added.

He stressed that the action was equally backed by Section 863, Subsection 1 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, CAMA 2020, and the 2013 CBN guidelines on agent banking.

Magaji explained that the timeline for the registration which will expire on July 7, 2024, was not targeted at any groups or individuals but aimed at protecting businesses.

Several speakers from the Fintech industry pledged to collaborate with the commission to ensure hitch-free implementation of the directive.

Some of them, however, stressed the need for adequate and collective sensitisation, to ensure that the exercise achieved the desired results.

The Special Adviser to the President on ICT Development and Innovation, Tokoni Peter, in his remarks, pledged to ensure smooth facilitation of the process in line with the Renewed Hope Initiative of the present administration.

The representatives of Opay, Momba, Palmpay Ltd, Pay Stack, Fair Money MFB, Monie Point, and Teasy Pay present at the event, later signed up for a document to support the project.

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