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Strong Customer Growth in Nigeria Buoys Airtel Africa 9-month Results

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Airtel Nigeria SIM update

By Dipo Olowookere

After getting battered by the implementation of new know your customer requirements by the Nigerian authorities, Airtel Africa is beginning to see an improvement in its customer base.

In its unaudited financial statements for nine months ended December 31, 2021, the leading telco said it recorded 1.9 million net additions in the third quarter, taking total group customer additions to 3.1 million.

This supported that 21.7 per cent revenue growth to $3.492 million from $2.850 million achieved in the same period of 2020.

A closer look into the revenue line showed that voice accounted for $1.747 million compared with $1.537 million in the first nine months of the preceding accounting year, while data contributed $1.127 million as against $842 million of the earlier period, with mobile money accounting for $406 million versus $291 million and other revenue contributing $306 million as against $255 million in 2020.

Business Post observed that the revenue of Airtel Africa grew partly because of a one-time exceptional revenue of $20 million relating to a settlement in the Niger Republic.

Excluding this, revenue grew by 22.5 per cent in reported currency and by 24.8 per cent in constant currency, with the difference relating to currency devaluations, mainly in the Nigerian naira (6.3 per cent) and the Malawian kwacha (8.2 per cent), in turn partially offset by appreciation in the Ugandan shilling (4.3 per cent) and the Central African franc (2.0 per cent).

Revenue growth for the 9 months period benefitted from a weakened performance in the first quarter of the prior year during the peak period of COVID-19 related restrictions across the region. However, even after adjusting for this, group revenue growth rates were ahead of FY’21.

“A strong third quarter has contributed to a pleasing nine-month financial performance across all key metrics.

“Operationally, we have continued to execute on our network and distribution expansion plans, driving continued strong growth in ARPUs across voice, data and mobile money.

“We have also seen further improvement in our customer growth trends for the group with Nigeria returning to strong customer growth,” the chief executive of Airtel Africa, Mr Segun Ogunsanya, stated.

In the period under review, the operating profit of the firm grew by 43.1 per cent to $1.146 million in reported currency, while profit after tax almost doubled to $514 million as higher profit before tax more than offset associated tax charges, with the basic earnings per share (EPS) at 11.7 cents, an increase of 113.8 per cent, largely as a result of higher profit.

This good performance excited Mr Ogunsanya, who noted that, “I am particularly pleased with developments in Nigeria, where in November we received approval in principle for both a payment service bank (mobile money) licence and a super-agent licence.”

“We are now working closely with the Central Bank (of Nigeria) to meet all its conditions to receive the final operating licences and commence operations.

“This will enable us to expand our digital financial products and reach the millions of Nigerians that do not have access to traditional financial services,” he assured.

He disclosed that the company “continued to strengthen our balance sheet, with our leverage ratio now 1.4 times underlying EBITDA, thanks to both to continued increases in operating cash flow delivery and to over $550 million of cash that has now been received from minority investments into our mobile money business.”

“We will continue to invest in expanding and evolving our platform to further deepen both financial and digital inclusion across Africa. I continue to see huge growth potential across voice, data and mobile money and our strategy is delivering against this opportunity.

“Our sustained investments in both network and distribution expansion will help to ensure that both the communities and economies across our footprint will continue to benefit from increased and affordable connectivity and financial inclusion.

“We are committed to continuing to improve the delivery of our services to our customers, with sustainability at the heart of our continued purpose to transform lives across Africa,” he added.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

Economy

House of Reps Tells CBN to Suspend New Cash Withdrawal Limits

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House of Reps Tells CBN to Suspend New Cash Withdrawal Limits

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, has been told to immediately suspend the new limits placed on the withdrawal of cash from over-the-counter (OTC), Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and Point of Sales (POS).

On Tuesday, the central bank said from January 9, 2023, any cash withdrawal above N100,000 for individuals would attract a 5 per cent processing fee and a 10 per cent processing fee for withdrawals of more than N500,000 for corporate organisations.

This policy is already generating mixed reactions, with POS operators saying it would push them into the unemployment market because of the loss of jobs and the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) saying stakeholders were not “extensively consulted” by the CBN before its announcement.

At the plenary on Thursday, a lawmaker, Mr Aliyu Magaji, who moved a motion of urgent public importance, warned that the new policy could spell doom for the economy as several people would lose their jobs, while traders, artisans and rural dwellers would suffer because of the cash limits.

His colleagues agreed with him and criticised the apex bank for the policy.

Though the Minority Leader, Mr Ndudi Elumelu, pointed out that the new cash withdrawal limits would check crimes as funds would now be tracked through the banking system, he emphasised that the timing was wrong.

The other legislators echoed this opinion and added that it would have serious consequences and adverse effects on businesses and Nigerians who have no access to the banking system.

As a result, they asked Mr Emefiele to roll back the policy, summoning him to appear before them on Thursday, December 15, 2022, to explain the policy and why it should not be rejected.

Incidentally, the day he is to appear next week is the same day the CBN plans to officially introduce the newly redesigned N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes into circulation.

The Naira was redesigned by the apex bank to control the volume of cash in the financial system after it was discovered that more than 80 per cent of cash in circulation was not in the banks’ vaults.

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Economy

New Cash Withdrawal Policy Was Without Extensive Consultation—NECA

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Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association NECA

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has accused the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) of not consulting with stakeholders extensively before coming up with the new cash withdrawal policy expected to take effect from January 9, 2023.

In the new directive, the CBN said the maximum cash that can be withdrawn from banks is N100,000 per week for individuals and N500,000 for corporate organisations. Also, customers would not be able to withdraw more than N100,000 from the Point of Sale (PoS) machines and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and N20,000 per day. It further said the highest Naira note to be loaded in ATMs is N200.

However, withdrawals above the cash limits via over-the-counter, according to the directive of the apex bank, would attract 5 per cent for individuals and 10 per cent for companies.

Commenting on the new development, the Director-General of NECA, Mr Wale-Smatt Oyerinde, emphasised that the livelihood of many individuals and enterprise sustainability would be impacted.

“As usual with the CBN, the bank announced a new naira withdrawal policy without extensive consultation with organized businesses and those that will be directly impacted by the policy.

“This new policy is diversionary and a mere distraction from the critical issues that are affecting the nation,” Mr Oyerinde stated.

Speaking further, he said, “While it is desirable to get all bankable individuals and businesses into the banking system and promote the cashless policy of the CBN, the timing without adequate preparation and sensitization of the critical mass that drives the economy (the SMEs and MSMEs) could prove counter-productive and further drive many below the poverty line.

“This is another classical example of the inconsistencies and misalignments between the fiscal and monetary policies of the government.

“It is absurd to blatantly set traps of processing fees for individuals and businesses who desire to withdraw their hard-earned money from the bank for legitimate and genuine business transactions.

“It is also important to note that the banking infrastructure and mobile/digital facility to drive the cashless policy are not sufficiently developed. This is not only draconian but also inhuman.

“We urge the CBN and, indeed, the federal government to replicate the energy and promptness used in implementing this policy to address the issues of dwindling value of the Naira, rising inflation, oil theft, ballooning foreign debt, and get millions out of poverty realm.”

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Economy

SEC Plans to Boost Value of Shariah-Compliant Products to N5trn by 2025

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non-interest capital market Shariah-compliant products

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has said it plans to expand the size of the Shariah-compliant products in the non-interest capital market in Nigeria to at least N5 trillion by 2025.

The Director-General of SEC, Mr Lamido Yuguda, said the revised edition of the Capital Market Master Plan (2021 – 2025), which was launched recently, has mapped out ways to achieve this goal.

Speaking at the opening of a three-day capacity-building workshop for local Shariah talent for non-interest capital market held at the SEC head office in Abuja on Wednesday, Mr Yuguda said this could be achieved through the listing of at least 50 Shariah-compliant products.

The DG, who was represented by the SEC’s Executive Commissioner Operations, Mr Dayo Obisan, said that the Non-Interest Capital Market (NICM) also plans to ensure 100 retail Shariah-compliant products and attract about 1 million direct investors in the ecosystem.

Mr Yuguda noted that with these new responsibilities, promoting capacity-building programmes, such as the workshop, on Shariah-compliant processes and products (Regulators and Operators) has become necessary for the NCIM.

He said the commission, in recognising the potential of the non-interest capital market for economic growth, dedicated a component in its 10-year policy to the speedy development of the market in the financial system.

Specifically, Mr Yuguda said the plan provides clear strategic objectives for the development of the market, one of which is the “encouragement of the development of stakeholders for the market” and today’s workshop is evidence of the realization of this particular objective.

The stride and significant achievements recorded by the policy, he said, are evidenced by the last ranking of Nigerian Islamic Finance in 13th place on the global Islamic Finance Development Indicator 2021, with the assets under management valued at N2.30 billion, which is higher than countries like Bangladesh and Turkey.

“As you may be aware, the major difference between conventional finance and non-interest finance is the application of Shariah principles. This simply means that a non-interest financial market cannot exist without experts in Islamic commercial jurisprudence (FiqhulMu’amalat Al-Maliyya).

“Therefore, this Workshop will help in fast-tracking the development of experts for the Market. We believe that it would be a magic lamp for developing our local Sharia talent, not only for the Nigerian capital market but for the Nigerian financial system in general.

“The level of activities in the non-interest capital market that we are currently experiencing in Nigeria affirms the overwhelming acceptance of NICM products by the country’s populace. This shows a strong appetite for other alternative forms of investments.

“Recently, the market witnessed the entrance of institutions offering non-interest capital market services/products and the oversubscription of the FGN and corporate Sukuk, further buttresses the need for this workshop to encourage the development of Shariah experts for the market.”

The DG said the workshop is aimed at exposing participants who have the potential to provide Shariah advisory services for the Islamic finance industry, particularly the non-interest capital market’s operations as it relates to Shariah principles and rulings. It is also planned to be in two levels, Level 1 and 2.

He stated that Level 1, is focused on the basic areas of financial market structure and operations of the capital market, Shariah principles and contracts relating to non-interest capital markets, as well as Shariah issues relating to the operations and businesses of the market, among others while level-2 which will address the operation of the Sukuk and equity markets.

The SEC boss said NICM has so much potential in the country by attracting an untapped investor base who appears indifferent to conventional instruments to participate in the capital market as well as the existing investors to diversify to ethical and socially responsible investments.

“We believe that developing Shariah talent through a Workshop like this is another opportunity of creating awareness for the non-interest capital market products and services, which in turn will facilitate the financial inclusion drive in the Nigerian Financial System.

“I am happy to note that the commission recently exposed registration rules to set a minimum standard for corporate or individuals seeking to provide Shariah advisory services for non-interest capital market activities. This is to encourage further and attract the attention of qualified persons and entities to engage in the Shariah advisory function for the non-interest capital market.”

Mr Yuguda expressed the confidence that the participants will benefit from the vast knowledge and experience of the facilitators, which will bring about a much-needed impact on the participants and the market in general.

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