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Ecobank shareholders approve $600m additional capital raise



The shareholders of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated have given their approval for it to raise N600m in fresh capital raise within one year.

This was revealed in the resolutions adopted at the 36th annual general meeting and extraordinary general meeting of the bank held in Lome, Togo, which was filed with the Nigerian Exchange Limited on Thursday.

The bank’s board of directors also appointed Madiaw Ndiaye as the company’s new chairman, succeeding Alain Nkontchou, who has completed this term in office.

During the EGM, the shareholders  “authorised the board of directors to raise within a period of one year from the date of this meeting up to six hundred million United States dollars (US$600,000,000) in senior-ranked debt, Tier 2-qualifying subordinated debt or a combination of these forms of instruments as the board of directors may deem appropriate.”

Also, shareholders applauded the group’s strong performance in 2023 with its net revenues exceeding the $2bn mark for the first time in nearly 10 years.

In 2023, ETI saw its profit before tax rise by eight per cent to $581m from $540m in 2022.

Commenting on the performance of the banking group in 2023, the Chief Executive Officer, Jeremy Awori, said, “Ecobank delivered a strong performance in 2023, demonstrating the competitive advantages of our resilient, diversified business model and the early results of our new Growth, Transformation and Returns strategy.

“We demonstrated financial prudence by carefully managing our shareholders’ capital, ensuring customer satisfaction at every touchpoint, and making informed decisions about pricing our assets and liabilities. We are confident that our strategy is paving the way for our continued success and growth.”

After his appointment, the new chairman, Ndiaye said, “I have long admired Ecobank Group’s successful development across Africa, and I am looking forward to working with Jeremy and ETI’s board to steer the bank through the next and exciting phase of its journey.

“With its strong foundation and numerous competitive advantages, I see Ecobank as strongly positioned to accelerate its growth trajectory and play an even greater role in driving the continent’s economic development in this era of rapid technological changes.”

Ndiaye is the chief executive officer and founding partner of AFIG Funds, a leading private equity fund management company focused on Africa.

He has a proven track record of leadership and the creation of shareholder value and a deep commitment to Ecobank’s mission and strategic agenda.

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World Bank, Trade Ministry partner Shippers’ Council to tackle multiple-inspection border posts



By Seun Ibiyemi

The Ministry of Trade and Investment, alongside the World Bank and the Nigeria Shippers’ Council (NSC), have identified simplified trade processes and procedures at the seaports, across states and regional borders as imperative for economic growth.

Speaking recently when the Enhanced National Trade Facilitation Committee and representatives of the World Bank visited the NSC in Lagos, the Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr. Doris Udoka-Anite explained that the benefits of achieving harmonised, standardised and simplified trading processes and procedures are immense and cannot be overstated.

Udoka-Anite, who was represented by an Assistant Director in the Office of the Minister, Dr. Brenda Max-Nduagube, noted that trade facilitation has been a focal point of discussions at national, regional and international levels.

“This is ever more important to small and medium-scale enterprises where the NTFC helps create a more business-friendly environment for SMEs venturing into global markets. This translates to increased competitiveness, growth potential and a more level playfield,” the Minister stated.

She commended the World Bank for its steadfast support and collaboration, which have been instrumental in advancing Nigeria’s national trade facilitation goals while positioning her as a leading trade hub in the region.

She further commended the members of the Enhanced National Trade Facilitation Committee for tirelessly fostering collaboration and synergy across Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the private sector and civil society, thereby paving the way for a more integrated and efficient trade facilitation framework.

She explained that the World Bank team was visiting to fully understand the daily operations, inspection processes and trade bottlenecks, and identify policy options to make trade seamless for the Nigerian government.

On their part, leader of the World Bank team, Aleksandar Stojanov, stated that, “We look at ways of supporting the government in terms of improving competitiveness and domestic value addition so that Nigeria can take full advantage of regional trade agreements such as AfCFTA (African Continental Free Trade Agreement), as well as the international agreements that they have.”

According to Aleksandar Stojanov, the World Bank team was on a fact-finding mission that would guide their dialogue on trade, reduce dwell time, and improve trade processes.

“Today, the World Bank has state-level trade operations, which has an inter-state trade indicator for seamless movement of goods across states in Nigeria and export promotion at the state level.

“There is one operation in the pipeline that will support trade facilitation, which has a linked indicator, that is on reducing inspections at the border and improving trade facilitation overall to the authorised economic operator system, which has been launched with the Nigeria Customs Service,” Aleksandar Stojanov stated.

On his part, the NSC Executive Secretary, Mr. Pius Akutah, noted that the Council is one of the major stakeholders in trade facilitation in Nigeria, and West Africa at large, as a member of the ECOWAS Trade Facilitation Committee, among others.

“We work with transport and cross-border infrastructures to reduce transport bottlenecks and facilitate trade, both in local and international markets.

“To consolidate this effort and that of the international agencies, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council has embarked on trade facilitation tools like the inland dry ports, and complaint centres across the country, in order to facilitate trade in the hinterlands and decongest the seaports, especially Apapa and Tin Can Island,” the NSC boss explained.

He disclosed that while on its mandatory activities, the NSC discovered that many traders along the border corridors perform their activities informally, with many small scale businesses carrying out their trades very well.

“We intend to do everything within our mandate to ensure that we formalise these activities. This has necessitated the Council’s collaboration with the Nigeria Customs Service and other stakeholders to establish Border Information Centres at the borders,” Barrister Pius Akutah added.

He assured the World Bank, Ministry of Trade and Investment and the National Trade Facilitation Committee of the NSC’s continued partnership to improve trade and other related activities.

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Customs brokers commend NPA over access road clearance



By Seun Ibiyemi

The Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello KoKo has received commendation from the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) for the uncommon initiatives that cleared the decade-long traffic gridlock that had menaced the Apapa/Tin-Can Ports access roads and undermined the ease of doing business in Nigerian ports.

Leading the largest group of Customs Brokers on a working visit to the NPA headquarters recently, the National President of ANLCA, Mr. Emenike Nwokeji, in the company of ANLCA Board Chairman, Mr. Taiwo Mustapha, lauded Mr. Mohammed Bello-Koko for improving the ease of doing business at the ports with the clearance of the port access roads.

Responding, Mohammed Bello-Koko said, “Breaking the jinx of the agelong traffic gridlock that was causing huge revenue losses and reputational damage to our dear country Nigeria was a product of our relentless commitment to doing what is right by entering into open-minded collaborations with the Lagos State Government and relevant stakeholders.”

Reiterating the Authority’s commitment to enhancing ease of doing business and deepening Nigeria’s balance of trade through promotion of exports, Bello KoKo added, “We are committed to fulfilling the priorities as enunciated in the Presidential/Ministerial Performance Bond which we signed and to sustain the sanity on the Port access which has resulted in the unprecedented increase in export numbers.

“We have developed a Service Level Agreement (SLA) for cargo evacuation which we would be implementing with renewed vigour going forward to sustain the growth in exports in order to achieve the national trade surplus required to grow the domestic economy.”

Recall that the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in its foreign trade report for the first quarter of 2024 highlighted that Nigeria recorded a N6.5 trillion trade surplus between January and March of 2024. The NBS detailed that Nigeria’s exports totalled N19.1 trillion and total imports stood at N12.6 trillion — indicating a trade surplus of N6.5 trillion.

A trade surplus is an economic indicator of a positive trade balance in which the exports of a nation outweigh the country’s imports.

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Inaugurating a new era: The vital role of NAFDAC in Nigeria’s health sector renewal



The recent inauguration of the Governing Board of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) marks a significant step in renewing Nigeria’s health sector.

NAFDAC is a cornerstone institution, essential for regulating the food and drugs that Nigerians consume, and it plays a vital role in ensuring the population’s health and safety.

This aligns with President Tinubu’s #RenewedHopeAgenda to save lives, reduce physical and financial pain, and promote health equity for all Nigerians.

The President’s health agenda is built on four foundational pillars under Nigeria’s Health Sector Renewal Investment Initiative #NHSRII.

The first pillar, governance, emphasises the need for strong regulatory frameworks for both products and professionals. NAFDAC’s role here is crucial, ensuring the integrity and safety of health commodities, which are foundational to the nation’s health system.

Improving population health outcomes is the 2nd pillar. For Nigeria’s primary healthcare systems and hospitals to function effectively, the quality of pharmaceuticals must be guaranteed.

NAFDAC’s efforts in preventing counterfeit and substandard drugs are essential in achieving better health outcomes for the populace.

The 3rd pillar focuses on unlocking the potential of the healthcare sector. A strong regulatory framework supports local production and ensures that quality products can compete both locally and internationally.

NAFDAC’s regulation of production and distribution channels is key to fostering a thriving healthcare industry, protecting investments in quality production, and preventing market disruption by substandard products.

Health security is the 4th pillar, emphasising NAFDAC’s role during crises, such as ensuring the safety and efficacy of vaccines and therapeutics. This function is critical for maintaining public trust and managing health emergencies effectively.

Inaugurating the Board, the Hon. CMHSW Muhammad Ali Pate said “the membership is composed of individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences, reflecting a careful selection process aimed at fostering effective teamwork. This diversity is seen as a strength, providing varied perspectives and enhancing the council’s ability to address complex challenges.”

Minister Pate added, “The Board’s role is dual: to support and challenge the DG and the institution. This approach promotes growth and improvement, ensuring that NAFDAC continues to meet its mandate effectively. While NAFDAC has made significant progress, continuous improvement is essential.

“Recent reviews have identified areas for enhancement, and the DG, Prof Moji Adeyeye, has begun addressing these, focusing on structure, strategy, systems, financing, and culture.”

As the new Board embarks on its duties, there is a renewed sense of purpose and dedication to safeguarding the health of all Nigerians.

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