By Adedapo Adesanya
President Muhammadu Buhari had described BUA Group as the largest employer of labour in the northwest of Nigeria, applauding the efforts of the manufacturing company in the region and the country at large.
The President said this on Thursday when he paid a visit to Sokoto State to commission a cement plant by the conglomerate, which is expected to produce three million metric tonnes of cement per annum. The firm also commissioned a 48 Megawatts power plant.
Commending BUA Group and other entrepreneurs for making Nigeria self-sufficient in cement and a net exporter of the strategic product, Mr Buhari said: ”I am pleased that through these investments, BUA Cement has created employment opportunities for our citizens. Today, BUA is the largest employer of labour in the North-West region.
”I always remind Nigerians that every region, indeed every State, in Nigeria sits on huge reserves of resources. For example, in this area, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara can boast of rice production, gold and other precious metals development and of course, heavy industries like cement manufacturing.”
”As a government, we introduced policies and mechanisms to support such investments in a legal, ethical and inclusive manner.
”We remain prepared to support serious investors to set up businesses that will take advantage of these opportunities through value addition so as to take advantage of the huge market here, as well as in the greater African region and the world at large,” he said.
He also expressed delight that the federal government policies on economic diversification, job creation, and creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive are working.
He pledged that his administration would continue to support serious investors to set up businesses that will take advantage of huge reserves of resources in different parts of the country.
He recounted that in 1985 as the then Head of State, he was at the same location to commission the 2nd line of the facility.
”Today, almost 37 years later, to commission the fourth line is a very special day for me personally.
”As you all know, one of the key economic pillars of our administration has been to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive. This is necessary for job creation and indeed, for our economy and national security.
”In the past few weeks, I visited Ogun and Kaduna States where I observed many private sector investments in action. And today, I am here in Sokoto to commission this multi-billion Naira project.
”It is therefore very clear for all to see that our policies are working. Progress is gradually being made in all parts of the country,” he said.
The President thanked the founder of BUA Cement, Mr Abdul Samad Rabiu, and the entire team for the great work they are doing in supporting the government’s economic diversification and job creation agenda.
He noted the company, which has completed four new cement plants of similar capacity in the last five years in different parts of the country and is set to complete two more plants soon, had shown through these investments that they believe in Nigeria and its potential.
On his part, Mr Rabiu commended the President for creating the enabling environment for businesses to thrive, acknowledged the support of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and its Governor in setting up the gigantic project.
”So far, we have invested over a billion dollars in the past four years and we urge the CBN to continue to support industries like ours that use locally sourced raw materials to add value,” the businessman said.
He pledged that BUA would continue to invest more in the cement industry until Nigeria is self-sufficient and the commodity is made available, accessible, and affordable for all Nigerians.
”In the past 6 years, we have completed 4 plants – two in Obu, Edo State and two in Sokoto (of which this Sokoto line 4 is the fourth) with BUA’s total production capacity now standing at 11.5million tonnes with the completion of this plant.
”Next year, we intend to complete the construction of two new plants of 3 million metric tonnes each for which construction is ongoing – one in Edo and the other, here in Sokoto,” he added.
The Chairman of BUA said he looked forward to President Buhari commissioning these plants next year which will bring total production capacity to 17.5 million metric tonnes.
He explained that 95 per cent of the materials used in production in the company are locally sourced.
Financial Industry Players Must Collaborate to Satisfy Customers Needs
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Managing Director of Interswitch Purepay, Mr Akeem Lawal, has called on critical players in the Nigerian financial service industry to put heads together to provide innovative solutions and unique offerings to customers.
According to him, customers deserve the best from financial industry players like banks, telecommunications companies and financial technology (fintech) firms in order to meet the 95 per cent financial inclusion target by 2024.
Mr Lawal, who delivered a presentation at the recently-concluded Nigerian Fintech Forum at the Civic Centre, Lagos, stated that the partnership will accelerate growth and deepen financial inclusion in the country.
He said despite the growth of the financial sector, customers are yearning for more innovative and seamless payment solutions, which must be designed to meet their needs strengthen the financial industry.
The tech expert said at the event themed Building Partnership for Growth, Exploring the Intersection of Banks, Telcos and Fintech Companies that the Nigeria financial industry has evolved tremendously over the years with customers transitioning from banking halls transactions to adopting digital payment services.
“As headline platinum sponsor, we are delighted to be sponsoring the Nigeria Fintech Forum because we believe that a platform like this will provide the opportunity for critical stakeholders in the financial industry to engage and proffer solutions that will consequently drive the growth of the financial Industry.
“At Interswitch, we will continue to design tailor-made solutions that speak to the need of every customer. Therefore, it is important for players in the financial industry, including the banks, telcos and fintechs to leverage collaboration to provide innovative and seamless solutions to customers. This is the only way we can meet the 95% financial inclusion target by 2024,” Mr Lawal stated.
Speaking during the panel session tagged Regulating Nigeria’s Fintech Industry, Building Investors Confidence Without Stifling Growth, another speaker, Mr Tyoyila Aga, who is Group Head, Financial Services Business at Interswitch, said it was important that players in the industry collaborate with regulators, keep abreast of new regulations and help strengthen compliance levels to grow the financial industry.
“At Interswitch, our approach to regulators is to work in harmonious ways with them and that is what we have been doing for two decades. This has helped us to understand regulations better and we urge other players to do same to grow the industry,” Mr Aga said.
Airtel Africa Gets $125m Credit Facility from Citibank
By Adedapo Adesanya
Top telecommunications company, Airtel Africa Plc, has announced the signing of a $125 million revolving credit facility with Citibank’s subsidiaries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
This was contained in a disclosure sent to the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited.
It was stated that the credit facility will provide Airtel Africa with the opportunity to save interest rates in exchange for achieving social impact milestones in such areas as digital inclusion and gender diversity.
The social impact projects will focus mainly on rural areas and women and are aligned with Airtel Africa’s recently launched sustainability strategy.
Airtel Africa’s newly secured $125 million credit facility is part of the telco’s corporate strategy to raise debt in its local operating companies. To this effect, the facility will come in both local currencies and US dollars. It will also have a 1-year tenor.
“This facility is in line with our strategy to raise debt in our local operating companies and will include both local currency and US dollar-denominated debt. The facility has a tenor up to September 2024 and will be used to support Airtel Africa’s operations and investments in four of its subsidiaries,” the statement said.
This is a big boost to the telco which operates in 14 African markets and has ongoing projects across several of these markets, including the recent acquisition of an additional 60 MHz spectrum for $40 million in Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Airtel Africa’s business offerings range from telecommunications to mobile money services. It has a combined user base of about 131.6 million.
DisCos Reduce Number of Estimated Billing Customers by 16.3%
By Adedapo Adesanya
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said that the number of Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) customers in Nigeria increased by 1.4 per cent from 10.37 million in 2020 to 10.51 million in 2021.
The report, Nigeria Electricity Report 2021, focuses on energy billed, revenue generated, and customers by DISCOS under the reviewed period.
The report said the number of metered customers rose by 36.2 per cent from 3.51 million in 2020 to 4.77 million in 2021, causing the number of estimated billing customers to decrease by 16.3 per cent from 6.86 million in 2020 to 5.74 million in 2021.
It was disclosed that in total, the value of electricity billed in 2021 grew by 5.9 per cent from 22,042.28 Gigawatts (Gwh) in 2020 to 23,360.59 (Gwh) in 2021, while the total revenue collected by the discos stood at N761.17 billion, 44.5 per cent higher than the N526.77 billion achieved in 2020.
A breakdown showed that the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) recorded the highest number of metered customers in 2021 at 701,781, while Yola Electricity Distribution Company (YEDC) recorded the least with 65,098.
In terms of electricity supplied, Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company (IKEDC) recorded the highest in 2021 with 4,088.62 Gwh, while YEDC recorded the lowest at 422.00 Gwh.
Similarly, the highest revenue collected was by IKEDC with 155,012.01 million while the least collection was recorded in YEDC with 9,804.00m million.
More than 83 million Nigerians do not have access to grid electricity. This represents 43 per cent of the country’s population and makes Nigeria the country with the largest energy access deficit in the world.
The lack of reliable power is a significant constraint for citizens and businesses, resulting on annual economic losses estimated at N10.1 trillion, which is equivalent to about 2 per cent of GDP.
According to the now-discontinued World Bank Doing Business report for 2020, Nigeria ranked 171 out of 190 countries in getting electricity and electricity access is seen as one of the major constraints for the private sector.
To assist in mitigating this, the World Bank approved $500 million to support the government of Nigeria in improving its electricity distribution sector last year.
According to the global lender, the project will help boost electricity access by improving the performance of the DisCos through a large-scale metering programme.
In addition, the World Bank said financial support would be provided to private distribution companies only on achievement of results in terms of access connections, improved financial management and network expansion.
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