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FBNQuest Sees Education as Catalyst for Economic Growth



Tech Space for Economic Growth

Across the globe, organisations have intensified efforts towards preparing their workforce for the demands of the future.

The preparation comes in the form of education (or training), that is, upskilling (technical, soft skills, mentorship) and digitisation training programs which will avail workers the ability to acquire knowledge, skills, tools and the ability to use the ever-changing technologies in their workplaces and private affairs.

As a critical component of a country’s human capital, evidence abounds as justifications for investing in educating the workforce: a leading determinant of economic growth, employment, and earnings.

The need for education in all its form cannot be overemphasised in this rapidly changing world. For instance, 2020 in retrospect, particularly between the second (Q2) and third quarter (Q3), have it that the global economy witnessed a significant amount of disruption.

From SMEs to big corporations, economic activities were at a standstill. Despite the technological advancement of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, the tale was not palatable.

The world’s biggest economy, the United States, was not left out as its economy plunged by 31.4 per cent within the period. The Eurozone witnessed a 12.1 per cent decline in its real GDP growth rate by the same period, and the impacted some economies within the Euro area.

Spain’s real GDP growth rate declined by 18.5 per cent; France’s fell by 13.8 per cent, Italy saw its real GDP decline by 12.4 per cent, while Germany’s sank by 10.1 per cent.

Further, some countries including Africa’s biggest economy, Nigeria, slumped into recession. This spiralled into a significant amount of job loss across every sector of the economy, not leaving the western world behind.

As a bounce back, education took its role leading to inventions and innovations. The lockdown forced companies and businesses to think outside the box for a quick fix—upskilling their workforce. Consequently, companies in Nigeria began to train their workforce to adopt digital means of doing business which then led to remote working as part of the new normal.

In effect, technology came atop as one of the catalysts that individuals, firms and government turned to inject life into their businesses and other activities.

From virtual meetings to online learning, mobile technology and online support for offline sectors, governments and corporate bodies switched to the new normal. Apps like Zoom, Google Meet, GoToMeeting, Join Me, Webex, Slack and Microsoft Teams to mention a few became a central platform for conferencing.

According to Sensor Tower, the global app revenue jumped to $50 billion in the first half of 2020, representing 26.1 per cent of the corresponding quarter in 2019, and partly due to COVID-19, with Google Play taking the largest chunk of the global revenue.

Although training and capacity building remains a critical pillar in recent times, the process of developing human capital through education requires creating the necessary environment in which employees can learn better, apply innovative ideas, acquire new competencies, develop skills, behaviours and attitudes.

Education can be formal, informal and non-formal with the desire to get improved performance, enhance innovation in new strategies and products, reduce employee turnover, and boost the organisational profiles. This consequently affects the gross domestic product (GDP) of a country. A country’s economy becomes more productive as the proportion of educated workers increases.

Education, through digital technology, has started to transform the lives of smallholder farmers, thus reducing post-harvest losses, by having the means to better storage and processing facilities and access to market information and subsidized farm inputs.

With the introduction of Onecourse, a software application that improves reading, writing and mathematics, the Malawian government was able to narrow the gender gap in reading and mathematics skills. Rwanda implemented a mobile app called Babyl. With this app, patients are given information about their symptoms and referral givens when it becomes unavoidable.

The Nigerian labour force demonstrates the characteristics of individuals who urgently need training such as coding and innovation to be relevant in the 21st-century workplace.

According to the recent labour force data, 30 per cent of Nigerians never attended school. Further analysis shows that 17 per cent had primary school certificates, 36 per cent had secondary school certificates, while those in possession of degree and higher certificates constituted 20 per cent of the nation’s workforce.

Even within this group, 8 per cent have Ordinary National Diploma(OND)/Nigeria Certificate In Education (NCE) certifications; 9 per cent have first degrees (BA/BSc/Bed/HND), while 1 per cent have post-graduate degrees (MSc/MA/MAdmin).

Above this is the 0.1 per cent group which have doctorate degrees. However, according to the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, the number of out-of-school children had dropped from 10.1 million in 2019 to 6.5 million in 2020. This shows an intentional effort by parents, governments and organisations to narrow the gap as well as tackle the prevalent challenges, albeit primary education is officially free.

Some organisations envisaged the impact of education/training as a catalyst for Nigeria’s economic growth in Nigeria’s economy. To corroborate this, analysts at Businessday Research and Intelligence Unit (BRIU) understudied the impact of upskilling and digital transformation in driving economic growth in Nigeria.

From the report, it was projected that the Nigerian economy will grow by $8.79 billion by 2023 and this growth will be largely driven by some sectors—ICT, agriculture, health, finance and insurance sectors— and by companies that spend more on training, research and development and technology acquisition.

In this light, FBNQuest, through its Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (CR&S), continues to focus on knowledge and skills development for economic growth.

Thousands of students have been trained in financial literacy which includes ways to earn, save and grow money; hundreds of women have also been trained on financial literacy through female economic empowerment and capacity building initiatives; A Bloomberg Room was set up in Lagos Business School (LBS) to help students gain access to real-time financial data through the use of the Bloomberg Terminals; employees have volunteered to mentor  Teach For Nigeria (TFN) fellows;  to mention a few.

Research shows that several present-day jobs may disappear in the next few years, while the jobs of the future are not yet created, requiring that workforces across different sectors need new skills while for firms to remain competitive, digitalisation is the way to go.

In all, it is envisaged that the gross domestic product of many economies will increase noticeably due to the implementation of upskilling and digitisation programs across the world.

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Absa Lauds Regulatory Framework for Trading Digital Assets in Nigeria



trading digital assets

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The decision of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to provide a regulatory framework for investing and trading digital assets, including cryptocurrencies, in Nigeria has been applauded by Absa Nigeria.

The chief executive of the leading pan-African bank, Mr Sadiq Abu, while appearing on CNBC Africa’s Power Lunch Show recently, expressed optimism that this development will boost the confidence of investors in the digital assets landscape.

He particularly commended the apex regulatory agency in the country’s capital market for recognising digital assets as securities and making efforts to regulate investments in the sector.

He said, “SEC decided to be proactive around cryptocurrency and digital assets. The SEC has realised that these are rightly called securities and further created a framework to bring them within the broader securities regulatory framework in Nigeria.

According to him, the SEC has also created a framework for protecting investors by requiring investments to be held by digital assets custodians and acknowledged that exchanges or platforms for trading digital assets needed to be regulated.

“There is also an overarching framework for regulating all participants that play in the digital assets space through a specialised license called Virtual Assets Services provider,” Mr Abu stated.

He pointed out that a new rule stipulating tenure and other qualifications of the Chief Executive Officer and Principal Officers of Digital Assets Offering Platforms was similar to the regulations of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

According to him, this is a clear indication that the SEC and CBN worked together to develop the new framework for the operation of digital assets.

He stated, “There is clear evidence that the SEC is working hands in glove with the CBN to create a regulatory framework for the operation of digital assets and the regulation of CEOs and Principal Officers fall under the broader approved person regime of the SEC.”

SEC had recently published a new guideline on Issuance, Offering Platforms and Custody of Digital Assets, fulfilling the promise it made last year to examine the digital currency to gain a better understanding and develop regulations to protect investors.

Absa, which has a strong footprint across the African continent, offers investment banking and market products through its various Nigerian registered subsidiaries, namely Absa Representative Office Nigeria Limited, Absa Capital Markets Nigeria Limited, and Absa Securities Nigeria Limited.

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FG Moves to Improve Midstream, Downstream Operations



downstream operations

By Adedapo Adesanya

The federal government, through the Nigeria Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), has disclosed plans to unveil six regulations on midstream and downstream operations.

The regulations are being put in place to bring clarity to the sector as well as improve business processes and ease of doing business in the sector.

According to the Authority Chief Executive (ACE) of NMDPRA, Mr Farouk Ahmed, in a statement after a meeting with the Independent Petroleum Producers Group (IPPG), said the regulations are gas pricing, environmental management plan, environmental remediation fund, decommissioning and abandonment, gas infrastructure fund, and natural gas pipeline tariff.

The ACE also informed that a Working Team chaired by Mr Ogbugo K. Ukoha, Executive Director, Distribution Systems, Storage & Retailing Infrastructure (DSSRI) was set up to review the draft regulations, engage and consult stakeholders for smooth implementation when released.

Mr Ahmed further stated that the Authority was working hard on reducing the sector’s import dependency with more active efforts placed on local options.

“One of our key concerns is boosting local refining. Dangote and BUA refineries are coming on board; however, we want to see more companies investing in refineries so we can stop the importation of refined petroleum products, save our foreign earnings, create jobs and add value to the economy,” he explained.

The NMDPRA boss noted and commended the gradual growth of indigenous players in local exploration and production of petroleum products. He assured of the organisation’s commitment to making the business climate in the midstream and downstream conducive for local and foreign investment to thrive.

On his part, the IPPG Chairman, Mr Abdulrazaq Isa had said that the IPPG was an association of 25 indigenous Exploration and Production (E&P) companies with the vision to promote the continued development of the Nigerian Petroleum Industry for the benefit of industry stakeholders and the nation.

Mr Isa noted that timely communication with industry players was important at this time when the agency was going through a transition period, calling on NMDPRA to, as a matter of urgency, enact regulations on tariffs, domestic gas and clear license issuance modalities amongst others.

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NNPC, Sahara Group Invest $300m to ‘Circulate’ Clean Energy in Africa



NNPC profit 44 years

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) and leading energy and infrastructure conglomerate, Sahara Group, have taken delivery of two 23,000 CBM Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) vessels.

The delivery happened on Monday at the Hyundai MIPO Shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea, with plans to add 10 vessels in 10 years to enhance Africa’s transition to cleaner fuels.

The new vessels, MT BARUMK and MT SAPET have increased NNPC and Sahara Group’s joint venture investment to over $300 million, approaching the JV’s $1 billion gas infrastructure commitment by 2026.

The fleet previously comprised MT Sahara Gas and MT Africa Gas. All four vessels were built by Hyundai MIPO Dockyard, a foremost global manufacturer of mid-sized carriers.

WAGL Energy Limited, the JV company between NNPC and Oceanbed (a Sahara Group Company) is driving NNPC’s five-year $1 billion investment plan announced in 2021 to accelerate the decade of Gas and Energy transition agenda over the period.

Speaking on this, NNPC’s GMD, Mr Mele Kyari disclosed that the order of three additional new vessels was being finalised, adding that “we have a target of delivering 10 vessels over the next 10 years. The NNPC and our partners stand out with integrity in our energy transition quest and our commitment to environmental sustainability is unwavering.”

MT BARUMK and MT SAPET are WAGL and Sahara Group’s injections into the JV. WAGL is shoring up its gas fleet and terminal infrastructure, while Sahara Group continues to make remarkable progress in the construction of over 120,000 metric tonnes of storage facilities in 11 African countries, including Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Tanzania, and Zambia, among others.

Mr Kyari also said the vessels were critical to driving the Federal Government’s commitment to the domestication of gas in Nigeria through several initiatives and increasing seamless supply in compliance with the mandate of President Muhammad Buhari.

The initiatives –  the LPG Penetration Framework and LPG Expansion Plan are geared towards encouraging the use of gas in households, power Generation, auto-gas and industrial applications in order to attain 5 Million Metric tonnes of LPG consumption by 2025.

“This is another epoch-making achievement for the NNPC and Sahara Group, and we remain firmly committed to delivering more formidable gas projects for the benefit of Nigeria and the entire sub-region,” Mr Kyari said.

On his part, Mr Temitope Shonubi, Executive Director, Sahara Group, said: “WAGL has successfully operated two mid-sized LPG Carriers MT Africa Gas and MT Sahara Gas in the region in keeping with global standards, delivering over 6 million CBM of LPG across West Africa. With the new vessels, we are set to promote and lead Africa’s march towards energy transition.”

Mr Ali Magashi, Nigeria’s Ambassador to South Korea who represented the Federal Government, noted that President Muhammad Buhari deserved commendation for the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) which he said would reposition the NNPC to explore more projects with partners like Sahara Group.

BARUMK was derived from the combination of the name and initials of the late NNPC GMD, Dr Maikanti K. Baru, in fond memory of his immense support for the Gas development in Nigeria. “SAPET” is named after the Sahara – Petroci (the Ivorian National Oil Company) JV LPG Company (SAPET Energy SA.), currently constructing phase one of a 12,000MT LPG storage facility in Abidjan, with expansion plans to achieve 30,000MT in phase two. The JV emerged from WAGL’s trading relationship with PETROCI, dating back to 2014.

LPG is the fastest-growing petroleum product in sub-Sahara Africa over the last decade, with forecasts indicating that LPG will grow at a 7 per cent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) over the next 15 years.

Increased uptake of LPG will reduce net Green House Gas (GHG) emissions and pressure on forest reserves, thereby increasing environmental sustainability.

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