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Nigerian Telecoms Sector Viable for More Operators, Investments

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Nigerian telecoms sector

The consumption levels of data for Internet connectivity and​ financial transactions are increasingly mounting pressure on telecoms infrastructure in Nigeria.

The growing smartphone adoption coupled with increasing demand for high-speed Internet is a challenge for operators to reimagine their operations as it ​holds business prospects​ for existing and new investors.

Absa, a leading pan-African Corporate and Investment Bank notes that the low Internet penetration rates in Nigeria in the midst of rising demand for data present a huge opportunity for increased investment in Nigeria’s telecoms industry.

The number of active Internet subscriptions has exceeded 143 million as of February this year, as broadband penetration stands at 40.9 per cent for a population of about 216 million people.

Sadiq Abu, CEO of Absa Nigeria, said, “The outlook for growth in Nigeria’s telecoms industry is strong. The gaps in last-mile telecoms infrastructure are largely untapped. The current momentum of emerging technologies and financial services delivers boundless growth horizons for telcos to upgrade their infrastructure and expand their reach.

“The telecommunications industry is generating interest from local and foreign investors. The telcos are already strategically developing useful business vehicles to take advantage of emerging opportunities in the industry.”

The relevance of telecoms industry​ to the economy became prominent during the pandemic as the connectivity operators offer turned out to be a key tool for business continuity, driving human interaction and keeping people up-to-date on vital health and safety information.

People relied on bandwidth-heavy activities for entertainment and learning. Activities around remote learning and gaming grew intensely. More people used videoconferencing for meetings as well as national, regional and global conferences.

In as much as the industry was a major driver of economic growth during that challenging period, the ineptitude of the available infrastructure became glaring as it exposed the huge digital divide and many regions that have no connectivity.

Africa has the lowest number of Internet connections with only 22 per cent of the continent having access, indicating that the continent has the largest potential for growth, according to the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Hasnen Varawalla, the Co-head of Investment Banking Origination for Absa, said the listing of two prominent telecommunications companies in Nigeria on the Nigeria Exchange Group (NGX) has boosted the sector and the capital market and they both contribute 54 per cent to the capital base of the market.

He explained that the sector powers other critical sectors of the economy, drives fintech businesses, supports government revenue collection drive, security, e-commerce services and smart city plans.

According to him, “Absa is a significant capital provider to the entire telecoms sector in Africa. Our role is not limited to providing capital though; we are amongst the most active advisers to telco/telco infrastructure companies having led and/or participated in many landmark transactions across the continent, including the £595 million Airtel IPO on the NGX, the sale of 9mobile to Teleology, Vodacom IPO on the Tanzania Stock Exchange, the $378 IHS IPO on the NYSE, the acquisition by IHS of MTN’s tower portfolio in South Africa, amongst others.

“We continue to make available our deep telecoms sector expertise to help telcos take advantage of emerging opportunities that will fast track the timely achievement of their growth aspiration,” Varawalla said.

With the Nigeria Communication Commission’s ongoing implementation of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025, which aims to increase broadband penetration to 70 per cent by 2025, now is the time for investors to align with this plan, take informed risks on innovation, network expansion and infrastructure upgrades.

Internet traffic has been on the rise, with more than 70 per cent coming from mobile devices, making the switch from 3G to 4G and 5G inevitable. Also, many technologies that will ride on the infrastructure going forward are limitless.

​Embracing new business models and expanding into new industries, such as fintech, TV and the stock market will accelerate operators’ growth aspirations.  ​​Many mobile network operators in Africa have​ already recorded tremendous reach with mobile financial services on the continent due to their large customer base, existing distribution network and mobile phone penetration.​ ​​The telecommunications services industry hold potential for fibre, telecommunications towers, active networks, mobile and fixed broadband, data centres and e-commerce investor, among others.

Indeed, Absa’s invaluable role in providing capital for telecoms expansion in Africa and offering advisory services has led to many innovations and landmark transactions across the continent.

Absa offers investment banking and market products through various Nigerian registered subsidiaries, namely Absa Representative Office Nigeria Limited, Absa Capital Markets Nigeria Limited, and Absa Securities Nigeria Limited.

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Economy

JUST IN: CBN Raises Benchmark Interest Rate to 13%

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killing interest rate

By Dipo Olowookere

For the first time in two years, the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) has been raised by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to 13.0 per cent from 11.5 per cent.

Mr Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the CBN, who announced this development on Tuesday in Abuja, explained that the decision to increase the benchmark interest rate was taken at the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting held yesterday and today.

While addressing financial reporters this afternoon, Mr Emefiele said members of the committee were unanimous with the decision to hike the rates as it was the best thing to do after holding them for about two years.

However, the other parameters were left unchanged by members at the gathering as the Asymmetric corridor remained around the MPR at +100/-700bps, the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) at 27.5 per cent and the Liquidity Ratio (LR) at 30.0 per cent.

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Economy

Nigeria’s GDP Grows by 3.11% in Q1, What Next?

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GDP

By Lukman Otunuga

There are two ways one could interpret Nigeria’s latest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figure of 3.11% in Q1 of 2022.

The optimists will say the country’s economy grew for the sixth consecutive quarter in Q1 while pessimists may highlight how economic growth slowed for the third consecutive quarter.

Either way, Nigeria’s economy continues to display resilience against external and domestic risks. With the improvement in the non-oil sector driving growth, this may brighten the growth outlook. But could these be signs of Nigeria breaking away from the chains of oil reliance to derive growth from sustainable sources? It may be too early to come to any meaningful conclusion. However, the report is encouraging and illustrates progress made by the country in reclaiming stability post-Covid-19.

With economic conditions somewhat improving, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is unlikely to raise interest rates this week. Given how Africa’s largest economy has been able to maintain growth in the past six quarters on the back of loose monetary policies by the CBN, a rate hike could disrupt Nigeria’s economic recovery.

As the global war against inflation rages on, central banks are stepping up.

However, the CBN is likely to remain on the sidelines for now. Nevertheless, inflation is still a cause for concern with consumer prices accelerating for the third straight month to 16.82% in April 2022.

With the general elections around the corner, pre-election spending could translate to rising price pressures. On top of this, the widening policy divergence between the Federal Reserve and the CBN could punish the Naira.

It’s worth keeping in mind that the dollar remains heavily supported by aggressive Fed rate hike bets and is likely to remain strong for the rest of 2022. A powerful dollar is bad news for emerging market currencies including the Naira which continues to depreciate in both the official and unofficial markets.

Lukman Otunuga is the Senior Research Analyst at FXTM

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Economy

NGX All Share Index Weakens Further by 0.13%

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All-Share Index

By Dipo Olowookere

The bearish sentiment on the floor of the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited continued on Monday as the bourse further depreciated by 0.13 per cent.

Sustained profit-taking especially in the industrial goods sector contributed to the decline suffered during the session as the All Share Index (ASI) slumped by 68.45 points to close at 52,911.51 points compared with the previous session’s 52,979.96 points.

As for the market capitalisation, it depreciated by N37 billion amid sell-offs in 24 stocks to settle at N28.525 trillion as against last Friday’s closing value of N28.562 trillion.

On the first trading day of this week, the insurance sector depleted by 2.32 per cent, the industrial goods sector fell by 0.09 per cent, while the energy, banking and consumer goods counters increased by 0.28 per cent, 0.10 per cent and 0.05 per cent respectively.

Presco led the losers’ chart yesterday with a price decline of 10.00 per cent to trade at N180.00, Global Spectrum Energy Services lost 9.97 per cent to finish at N3.07, Neimeth fell by 9.66 per cent to N1.59, UAC Nigeria depreciated by 8.33 per cent to N13.20, while NEM Insurance retreated by 7.74 per cent to N4.05.

The gainers’ log had 22 members on Monday, with Conoil leading after its value improved by 9.95 per cent to N34.25. MRS Oil gained 9.93 per cent to quote at N14.95, McNichols appreciated by 9.86 per cent to N2.34, Academy Press increased its price by 9.76 per cent to N1.35, while NPF Microfinance Bank expanded by 8.02 per cent to N2.02.

On the activity chart, a total of 263.3 million stocks worth N3.6 billion exchanged hands in 4,856 deals during the session compared with 436.6 million stocks worth N3.2 billion bought and sold in 4,716 deals in the preceding session. This implied that the volume of trades depreciated by 39.68 per cent, while the value of trades and the number of deals increased by 10.15 per cent and 2.97 per cent respectively.

Jaiz Bank closed the day as the most active stock with the sale of 114.0 million units valued at N101.8 million, GTCO transacted 12.9 million shares for N302.8 million, Transcorp exchanged 12.8 million stocks worth N16.7 million, Access Holdings traded 11.7 million equities valued at N115.7 million, while Zenith Bank sold 8.6 million shares for N207.0 million.

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