By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Ambassador of Spain to Nigeria, Mr Alfonso Barnuevo Sebastian De Erico, has hinted that his country plans to set up manufacturing companies in Nigeria.
Mr De Erico made this known when he visited the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Mr Udoma Udo Udoma, on Wednesday in Abuja.
He said the country’s was taking this step so as to explore the economic potential of Nigeria and build business relations with the West Africa giant, which is Africa’s biggest economy.
Mr De Erico revealed that an official trade delegation has arranged a visit to Nigeria in May 2017, and will discuss with government agencies and familiarise itself with the business environment in Abuja between May 8 and 9.
Thereafter, he said, the delegation will hold a similar meeting with private sector operators in Lagos on May 10, 2017.
He also said it was time the two countries looked into the future to find more ways of being mutually beneficial to each other, particularly now that the country has a government that is sold to good governance principles.
“We appreciate the effort of Nigeria in the area of transparency and fighting corruption. We appreciate also its economic policies; and these will take the country forward. We are very supportive of Nigeria and its policies,” he added.
According to him, Spain has been investing in Europe over time and now needs to move its focus to Africa, with Nigeria as a preferred destination because of the country’s huge market potentials.
The ambassador pointed out that the number of Spanish companies already doing business in Nigeria was increasing, emphasising that the planned 2017 trip was very special as the focus would be on some very specific areas, including construction, energy and environment and water and sanitation.
He said Nigeria and Spain have enjoyed long lasting political and economic relations, adding that the time has come to deepen the relationship with further investments in some sectors of the Nigerian economy.
In his remarks, the Minister commended the contributions of Spain to Nigeria’s economy over the years, particularly in the oil and gas sector and said the Nigerian government was excited about the planned visit and assured it will be fully involved in ensuring its success.
According to him, the move was part of government efforts to attract foreign investment into the country to boost the economy.
“On the visit of Spanish companies to Nigeria, this is something that we will welcome. It is something we have been looking forward to; something that we are encouraging. We believe you have a lot to offer us and the Spanish companies will find Nigeria a convenient place to do business.
“We are improving our ease of doing business template and making sure that anybody who wants to do business in Nigeria has a much easier time,” Mr Udoma was quoted to have said in a statement issued by his media aide, Mr Akpandem James.
The Minister further said that, “We are improving on our visa system, to make it faster to get visa. We are giving extra support to our Export Processing Zones in terms of infrastructure, to upgrade them so that they will be suitable and convenient places for companies in Spain that would want to go into manufacturing in Nigeria.”
Mr Udoma told his guests that Nigeria was very interested in expanding its agricultural potentials, solid mineral exploitation and infrastructure development, particularly in the area of roads, rail and power.
He pledged the readiness of the ministry not only to support the proposal of bringing in the companies to Nigeria but to liaise with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, the Nigeria Investments Promotion Council (NIPC) and other relevant agencies of government to facilitate the project.
Oil Prices Crash as New COVID Variant Sparks Fears
By Adedapo Adesanya
Oil prices crashed more than 12 per cent on Friday as a new COVID-19 strain sparked fears about a demand slowdown just as supply increases.
As a result, the Brent crude plunged by 11.6 per cent or $9.50 to settle at $72.72 per barrel, while the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude declined by 13.1 per cent or $10.24 to sell for $68.15 per barrel.
The discovery of a new COVID-19 variant in Southern Africa is already dampening economic growth and triggering another demand slump.
The World Health Organization (WHO) warned of the new COVID variant detected in South Africa, stating that it could be more resistant to vaccines, thanks to its mutations. But the WHO has said further investigation was needed.
The variant, called B.1.1.529, is coming at a time when COVID cases are surging around the world ahead of the holiday season, with the WHO reporting hot spots in all regions and particularly in Europe.
The B.1.1.529 variant contains multiple mutations associated with increased antibody resistance, which may reduce the effectiveness of vaccines, along with mutations that generally make it more contagious.
Market analysts noted that prices did not crash because of President Joe Biden’s announcement of the release of 50 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPR), which has not even happened yet.
On Tuesday, Mr Biden of the United States announced plans to release its reserves as part of a global effort by energy-consuming nations to calm 2021′s rapid rise in fuel prices.
India, China, Japan, South Korea and the U.K. will also release some of their reserves to cool the market, which the latest development might have done.
Following this, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies (OPEC+) might still have a say in this, with the group’s December 2 meeting potentially resulting in a reduction in production targets for 2022.
The latest occurrence vindicates Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s largest producer which had warned that COVID-19 adds an unknown element to the market and that the alliance should not be too hasty in production ramp-ups or the market would suffer.
Amid this, oil production in the US continues to increase as drilling activity continues to pick up.
The US oil rig count rose this week to 467—a 6-rig increase and a 226 rig increase since this time last year.
The total rig count is now at 569—a figure that is 249 up from this time last year. Active rigs are still hundreds less than the 790 active rigs that were drilling in the pre-COVID world.
Sanwo-Olu Slams FG for High Cost of Cooking Gas
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
**Moves to Ramp up Supply, Crash Price
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has slammed the federal government for being behind the high cost of cooking gas in the country.
Speaking on Thursday at the commissioning of a 40 metric tons Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) refill plant in the Ikorodu area of the state, he attributed the rising price of gas to the introduction of 7.5 per cent VAT and foreign exchange (FX) crisis, a statement posted on the Facebook page of the state government disclosed.
According to him, these issues caused the spike in the price of the product, saying this was “unacceptable” in the face of the high cost of living.
However, he assured that this may soon be a thing of the past as his administration has taken a huge step to ramp up supply and make the product available to residents at cheaper rates.
The new plant in Ikorodu is operated by the state-owned energy firm, Ibile Oil and Gas Corporation (IOGC), and it is the fourth delivered by the corporation. Three other refill plants of varying capacities were built in the Amuwo Odofin, Alimosho and Iponri areas of the state.
The Governor disclosed that his administration decided to establish the plants to cut down the use of dirty fuels responsible for carbon emission and air pollution.
According to him, the energy project was initiated to key into the nation’s ambitious goal to develop the natural gas industry and encourage domestic use of safe cooking gas.
In Lagos, less than 30 per cent of households use gas for cooking. As an alternative to kerosene and charcoal, LPG is a clean-burning fuel that supports smoke-free indoor and outdoor cooking.
Mr Sanwo-Olu said the inclusion of gas into the state’s energy mix was critical to the continuous prosperity of Lagos, stressing that the project would not only transform the State into a gas economy and stimulate commercial growth but also enhance the quality of life by reducing carbon footprint in the environment.
The target, the Governor said, is to increase the supply of cooking gas in local communities, thereby raising domestic LPG usage from the current 25 per cent to about 80 per cent before the end of 2023.
He said: “The gas plant being commissioned today reflects the desire of our administration to align with the global action to reduce carbon emission and address the climate change challenge. One of the measures, which this gas plant will support, is promoting increased adoption of LGP for domestic use in Lagos.
“Our vision is to transit the State into a gas economy and ensure an energy mix that provides different fuelling options for residents with the introduction of Gas-for-Transport and Gas-to-Power projects. Expanding the domestic usage of LPG is critical to the continuous prosperity of Lagos and the attainment of our administration’s desire to transform the State into a 21st-century economy.”
Mr Sanwo-Olu said the increment in LPG price puts the nation at the risk of reversing all gains achieved from awareness of the advantages of using LPG for domestic cooking.
The Governor urged the federal government to reverse the trend in order to make the commodity affordable, while also increasing the availability of safe cooking gas in the country.
He said: “Not only are we excited with our modest intervention by Lagos in the LPG market, but it is also only when we reduce the cost of basic commodities such as cooking gas that the true dividends of democracy can be felt by the people.
“We have done a lot of advocacy for people to appreciate the benefit that comes with the use of gas for domestic cooking, such as reduction in carbon footprint, and improved quality of life. If we have made this great effort, the least the government can do is not to make the commodity unaffordable for the populace.”
The Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Mr Olalere Odusote, said the plant was built with the highest safety standards, noting that the siting of the facility was deliberate to serve a large number of the populace.
He said the state had the plan to expand the gas facility to 20 units which would be spread across all divisions.
Managing Director of IOGC, Ms Doyin Akinyanju, said the gas plants developed by the corporation had the capacity to supply 20,000 homes within the radius of operation, adding that jobs were created for young people in the supply chain through the use of purpose-built vehicles for door-to-door delivery in neighbourhoods.
She said: “Nigeria has an abundant gas deposit that needs to be rapidly developed. Lagos also is blessed with two known offshore fields – Aje and Ogo – in Badagry with large gas deposits. IOGC is taking steps to develop a bulk offtake facility that will ensure gas security in Lagos, as well as provide a competitive pricing advantage.
“We will continue our sensitisation and awareness campaign in the neighbourhoods where we are located to take Lagosians away from the use of dirty fuels like firewood, charcoal, kerosene to Gas for cooking. Today, we start a new journey with cooking gas by creating a market that will make it safely accessible.”
Our Post-paid Customers Owe N115bn—JED Cries Out
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Jos Electricity Distribution Company (JED) has said that post-paid customers across its franchise states are indebted to the company to the tune of N115 billion.
This was disclosed by the Managing Director of the company, Mr Hashim Bakori, who explained that the debt owed was different from the cost of energy losses as a result of energy theft.
He said this was discovered after 16 months of hard work after resuming office with his team as the new management of JED.
Mr Bakori disclosed this in Jos during the launch of the company’s 5-years Corporate Strategic Plan to kick start a new goal to be achieved by the organisation.
‘If nothing is done to bridge the gap, a lot will go wrong and that is why we are launching the Corporate Strategic Plan and by the time we are done, people will start seeing the improvement of energy supply across our franchise states.
“We have consulted reputable companies in the world to come and partner with us in moving the company forward.
“From today, you will see a very new Jos DisCo,” he said.
Mr Bakori, however, pointed out that despite the several efforts put in by the new management of JED, vandals and energy thieves still remain a challenge to the company.
“Despite these efforts, the company is currently bedevilled by some man-made challenges. These challenges range from vandalism and theft of our installations, energy theft to customers huge indebtedness to the company.
“In 2021 alone, vandals and thieves have torched about 200 distribution transformers, armoured cables, copper earth wires, transformer oil, feeder pillar copper bars, several spans of aluminium conductors, line insulators etc,” he said.
Headquartered in Jos, Plateau State, the company operates one of the longest distribution networks in the country. It caters to over 400,000 customers in the franchise regions of Plateau, Gombe, Bauchi and Benue States.
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