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France collaborate to develop inland dry port




The French Government has agreed to collaborate with the Federal Government to develop inland dry ports in the country.

Mr Hassan Bello, Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), disclosed this during a collaborative meeting between the duo and investors delegation on Thursday in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the thrust of the meeting was the development of inland dry ports, rail transportation infrastructure, export and import promotion and development between both countries.

Bello explained that after due study,  five locations were chosen by the Federal Government for the construction of a dry port and they were, Funtua, Kano, Ibadan, Plateau and Isiala Ngwa in Abia.

According to him, the dry port at Funtua is already 68 per cent completed and with efforts by the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC)  it can  be ready for operations in October or November.

He noted that reasonable progress had also been made in the other various ports, adding that the critical issue was that the projects were concessioned  to the private sector.

“The Federal Government thinks that in order to bring shipping closer to the people there should be ports.

“The guidelines for the policy is that dry port will decongest the sea port,  it will make things easier for everybody, secondly we have to galvanise export.

“Nigeria cannot be import dependent country for a long time,  we need to export to earn all the foreign currency.  It is intended that the dry port will be centred for export.

“In which case we are going to bring standards. Pre-export inspectors so that once you are exporting, it is certified,  everything is sealed and taken by rail mostly to the ship that is waiting and off it goes.

“What it does is that you are spreading the economy and giving exporters access to the ports. We are calling for government to declare the dry port as centres for exports so everything will be there.

“There will also be free zones, so most of the taxes will be lessened. We want to make these ports very comprehensive, we have to add value, we must have the compliment of the cold storage as to really cure these post-harvest losses.

“The most important thing is that we need to enhance and open the ports for local and international investments,’’ Bello said.

On railway, the NSC boss, said rail capacity was key to the success of the dry ports, adding that to earn the confidence of investors, we should have scheduled railway services.

He noted that some countries had indicated interests to invest, therefore, it was important to get things right.

According to him, the idea is not just to have a port, but to have a modern/electronic port that is in accordance and compliance with the ISPS code and of international standard.

He thanked the Managing Director, NRC, Fidet Okhiria, for accepting to ensure availability of land for investors to create additional values.

He,  however,  urged him to take a critical independent survey of all the ports and lay it before the Federal Government so that rail shouldn’t be a cause for delay of the port.

He also appealed that the ports shouldn’t be allowed to be congested like the Apapa ports, goods be cleared 24 hours,  no demurrage or rent seeking and the ports must relate to the economy and the community.

Representing the French government, its Regional Agriculture Counsellor, Dr Sonia Darracq, expressed readiness of its government to collaborate with Nigeria.

While reiterating the importance of the dry port, Darracq, said it would amongst other things,  boost the agricultural sector of the country, as it would curb post-harvest losses of food products.

“I am in contact with some French companies that will be interested in partnering in the development of the dry port be it for food or other things.

“And I brought in some documentation for companies that also cover the cold chain sector and they will  be very much willing to know better about your policy in terms of dry-port development in order to investigate some ways of cooperation.

“I am here to understand better,  what the government and  private sector plan in developing the dry port sector and all other infrastructure.

“I am mostly concerned with the transportation of our food but I’m also very keen to know the strategy of development of the highway,  the roads.

“I came here specifically at the request of the number one in France in the cold chain.  This is a group of French companies which deals in cold chain for more than 50 years.

“They have a vast experience,  they are private companies and are very much willing to start business discussions with you.

“I am a government person and the French government is very much willing to assist in the form of some financial tools we can activate for the beginning.

“We want to be part of the transformation of all or few environmentally friendly energy sources for all activities including the cold chain transportation and everything.

“To that we can  easily activate not only the French financial assistance but also the European Union.

“ I will write a  report that I will share with my ambassador but also with the EU representatives here because I think this is  for us,  a golden opportunity to work together and to be part of this development that is critical for the country,’’she added.

The Managing Director, NRC in his remark, reiterated the importance of rail in industrialisation and development.

Okhiria reiterated efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to link the country through rail, stating that work was on going to revitalise/construct the narrow and standard gauge lines in the country.

He said :“ the Federal Government has taken the bull by the horns to develop the infrastructure and the dry ports now have rail tracks to move products.

“If we succeed in linking the rails, we will not only reduce congestion but encourage people to use other ports and boost the economy in the long run.

“I pray the government continues to have the will to develop the sector as it is not a cheap project.’’ (NAN)

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Business & Economy

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



Yemi Cardoso,CBN Governor
Yemi Cardoso,CBN Governor

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



Port Harcourt Refinery
Port Harcourt Refinery

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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Business & Economy

CBN Halts 0.5% Cybersecurity Levy



CBN Headquarters Abuja
CBN Headquarters Abuja

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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