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Job creation: N15bn cocoa processing plant begins operation in Akure



Cocoa Processing Plant

A N15 billion cocoa processing plant aimed at boosting employment in the country, has started operation in Akure, the Ondo State capital.

The Managing Director of JohnVents Industry, Mr John Alamu, at a news conference in Akure on Wednesday, said that 100 people had already been offered direct highly-skilled and unskilled jobs in the company.

Johnvents Industries Ltd. is a wholly indigenous-owned agribusiness and subsidiary of Capitalsage.

According to Alamu, the number of staff will increase to over 300 by the time the industry is at full operation.

He said that the industry was acquired from Olam Venture with 100 per cent acquisition of personnel and machinery.

“Since we came in April 2021, we have invested over N3 billion naira in revamping the factory after acquiring it from Olam Venture. This investment has been on the area of machinery.

“Cocoa is capital intensive. A tonne of cocoa today goes for about N1.3 million and we consume an average body of 35 tonnes per day. That is what we are spending on raw material alone.

“Because we are in the main crop season, it is the practice that you must have raw materials that can take you for 90 days.

“That tells you the requisite billions of naira required for cocoa beans only.

“But we are leveraging on interventions from the Central Bank of Nigeria and Bank of Industry to boost our capital.

“Shareholders have injected huge share capital to finance the project. The investment by shareholders in this industry is N15 billion,” he stated.

The managing director further said the industry was a 15,000 metric tonnes automated processing plant, with capacity to crush cocoa into cocoa liquor, butter, cake and powder.

He said that over 2,000 personnel would be involved in the cocoa supply and export value chain, while more than 15,000 smallholder farmers would be empowered to generate sustainable income and contribute to the national economy.

Alamu, however, said that the industry had signed an agreement with companies abroad for large scale patronage.

“We have signed an agreement with companies abroad that have potentials. The nature of this contract has already off-taken 100 per cent of what we will be producing in the next one year.

“Our sales strategy plan is product specific. Our cocoa butter is straightly for export and we already have buyers.

“But for our cocoa powder, we are not willing to send that abroad because we don’t want to package all our fortunes here and take them abroad since there is local demand,” he said.

The managing director said that the industry had three warehouses outside the country capable of storing 15,000 tonnes of cocoa beans and the industry would keep stocking up to cater for light crop season.

Alamu added that Gov. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu would officially inaugurate the industry on Dec. 7.

In her remarks, Mrs Caroline Omotosho, Manager, JohnVents Industries Ltd., said the company would be a game-changer in the cocoa value chain in revenue generation, local capacity development, job creation and contribution to the country’s GDP. (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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