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Guinness Nigeria appoints Difom Finance/Strategy Director



The Board of Directors, Guinness Nigeria Plc, has appointed Mr Emmanuel Difom, as the company’s Finance and Strategy Director, effective Nov. 1, 2021.

This is contained in a formal notification signed by the Company Secretary, Mr Rotimi Odusola, to the shareholders, the Nigerian Exchange Ltd.,  and the investing public and on Wednesday in Lagos.

The notice said that Difom’s appointmentwas approved by the board at a meeting held on Oct. 26, 2021.

The notice said that Difom would bring on board over 15 years of experience as Finance Director with proven functional, strategic and leadership capabilities.

“He is a highly accomplished executive with strong experience in business strategy, finance and tax management supported by a solid background in FMCG, oil and gas and banking sectors.

“The Board of Directors is assured that Difom brings the right skillset to the Board with his level of experience and understanding of the Diageo landscape.

“In addition to this, the wide experience of Difom in British American Tobacco, his knowledge of the business terrain in Nigeria and his good track record were very high points contributing to the board’s confidence in his appointment as the Finance and Strategy Director,” it said.

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Sterling Bank, SMEDAN partner on data platform, Databanc



Sterling Bank and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria have launched a platform called Databanc that provides data on businesses in Nigeria and N5bn worth of single-digit loan programmes.

A statement from the bank said that Databank provides insights which will be utilised by SMEDAN to deliver its mandate on policy formulation and a unique identification for small businesses and their promoters.

Speaking at the launch of the platform, the Executive Director of Commercial and Institutional Banking at Sterling Bank, Tunde Adeola, described the platform and fund as evidence of Sterling Bank’s commitment towards growing the real sector of the nation’s economy.

Adeola said, “We are delighted to bolster the backbone of our economy with SMEDAN. This initial fund of N5bn marks just the beginning of what has been and will continue to be a mainstay of our approach to funding businesses to grow at scale, and become the preferred financial partner for businesses, no matter their scale.”

He added that over 20,000 SMEs had enrolled on the Databanc platform, with over 80 beneficiaries of the single-digit loan programme and further disbursements ongoing.

He encouraged all MSMEs in the country to enrol on the platform.

SMEDAN’s Director-General, Mr Charles Odii, represented by the Director of Agribusiness Development and Access to Finance, Levi Anyikwa, highlighted the programme’s alignment with SMEDAN’s mission to democratise credit access for nano and micro-enterprises.

Anyikwa affirmed that access to finance remained a significant hurdle for SMEs, and restated SMEDAN’s commitment to removing that barrier.

The Head of SME Digital Products at Sterling Bank, Bolanle Tyson, emphasised Sterling Bank’s strategic focus on critical sectors encapsulated in the HEART of Sterling forward strategy: Health, Education, Agriculture, Renewable Energy, and Transportation.

She said, “We are leveraging data to empower SMEs like never before. Our commitment to SMEs is steadfast. We recognise their pivotal role in driving Nigeria’s GDP and employment. This partnership with SMEDAN underscores our shared dedication to their success.”

The latest study from Visa, the SME Megatrends report showed that SMEs in Nigeria remained heavily underserved and underbanked with a considerable amount of SMEs relying on personal loans and informal credit, as they face obstacles and requirements that make it difficult to secure loans from banks and other formal lending institutions.

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Public debt hits N101trn, as FG eyes new $4.4bn fresh loans



The Federal Government has borrowed a total of $4.95bn in loans from the World Bank in the past 12  months, pushing the total public debt to N101tn/ amidst worries about the increasing costs of servicing external debt.

The nation’s public debt was put at approximately N97tn as of December 2023, according to the Debt Management Office data.

This came as the government still expects fresh loan approval worth $4.4bn from the international lender and the Africa Development Bank over the next one year.

An analysis by our correspondent showed that the bank approved funding for six projects including $750m for power sector financing, $500m for women empowerment, $700m for girl child education, $750m for renewable energy solutions, $750m on resource mobilisation reforms and $1.5bn for economic stabilisation reforms.

Findings showed that on June 9, 2023,/ the World Bank board approved a loan of $750m to boost Nigeria’s power sector. The bank said the loan would serve as additional financing for the power sector recovery performance-based operation.

It also announced the approval of a loan of $500m on June 27, 2023 to help Nigeria drive women’s empowerment. This was the second loan approved by the bank under the current administration. It provided a scale-up financing for the Nigeria for Women Programme.

In September 2023, the World Bank approved a loan of $700m to bolster educational opportunities and empowerment for adolescent girls in Nigeria. The loan was to support the ongoing ‘Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment project. It aimed to encourage secondary education accessibility for girls residing in specific target states within Nigeria.

While $750m was authorised on December 14, 2023, for the Distributed Access through/ Renewable Energy Scale-up project in Nigeria, the project aims to provide over 17.5 million Nigerians with better access to electricity via distributed renewable energy solutions and tackle the electricity access deficit.

The latest was a sum of $2.25bn comprising $1.5bn for reforms on Economic Stabilisation to Enable Transformation Development Policy Financing Programme. It is meant to increase fiscal oil revenues to 2.7 per cent by 2025, boost non-oil fiscal revenues, expand social safety nets to assist 67 million vulnerable Nigerians and raise the import value of previously banned products. $750m was also apportioned to enhance non-oil revenues and protect oil and gas revenue.

Meanwhile, the government is expecting about $4.4bn in new loans from the World Bank and the AfDB. The government is pursuing a $500m loan to address the need for better connectivity in rural road infrastructure and agricultural marketing, a $750m loan if it reintroduces previously suspended telecom tax and other fiscal measures, and a $500m to address the challenges faced by Internally Displaced Persons nationwide. The government is also expecting about $2.7bn economic and budget support loan from the African Development Bank.

The AfDB President, Akinwumi Adesina, in an interview with journalists in March said its Board of Directors approved $134m for Nigeria to implement an emergency food production plan, while talks are also ongoing for a $1.7bn economic and budget support loan as well as the launch of a $1bn agro-industrial processes in 28 states.

The World Bank, a prominent international financial institution dedicated to reducing global poverty, provides loans and grants to developing countries for a wide range of projects, including infrastructure development, education, healthcare, and environmental sustainability.

However, for many Nigerians, long years of infrastructure decay and increased unemployment have triggered an increased feeling of bitterness whenever they hear the government’s intention to borrow with past borrowings is not justifiable.

Nigeria has been a top recipient of fresh loans from multilateral lenders, borrowing $2.7bn in 2023 from about $2.9bn released to the country in 2022.

Last week, the Bretton Woods Institution said its technical advisory and financing to support economic growth in Nigeria currently stands at over US$15bn affirming data from the external debt stock report of the Debt Management Office shows that Nigeria owes the World Bank a total of $15.45bn as of December 31, 2023.

President Bola Tinubu had expressed his resolute commitment to breaking the vicious cycle of overreliance on borrowing for public spending, and the resulting burden of debt servicing it places on the management of Nigeria’s limited government revenue. However, the president may not have matched his words with actions as they have sought to obtain credit facilities from both domestic and external lenders.

The soaring costs of servicing foreign debt have significant implications for Nigeria’s economy. The increased debt burden could potentially divert resources away from critical sectors such as healthcare, education, and infrastructure, exacerbating socio-economic challenges.

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NPA clears air over $27.29bn Escravos Deep Seaport project 



By Seun Ibiyemi

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has shed more light on why the $27.29billion Escravos Deep seaport project, which is being promoted by a Nigerian firm, Mercury Maritime Concession Company in collaboration with EDIB International of Hong Kong, has stalled.

Responding to enquiries on the delay of the project via his X (formerly Twitter) handle, the Managing Director, NPA, Mr Mohammed Bello-Koko revealed that the proposal submitted by the promoters of the Escravos Deep Seaport project has not provided the Authority with the necessary information to advise further.

According to Bello-Koko, “First, Mercury Maritime Concession Company Ltd (MMCC) submitted a proposal and wants the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to approve its request as the ONLY deep seaport-free zone in the eastern zone of the country for decades to come.

”Meanwhile, the Authority has received many proposals for developing deep seaports, including Ibom, Burutu, Bakassi, Bonny, and Port of Benin, which are currently at different stages of review. Nonetheless, we carefully outlined the requirements for this project.

“The initial phase involves acquiring land. The availability and suitability of the site are essential for the successful development of the port. This process is yet to be accomplished. Although the classic position is for the Authority to acquire the land and grant a concession on it to the private party, recent concessions granted by the government allowed private parties to acquire the land, hold it for an agreed term, and, after recovering the cost, transfer it to the Authority. Examples are the Lekki & Badagry deep seaports.

“To undertake this project, the site for the port must be identified, and environmental impact assessments and scientific studies must be conducted to confirm suitability.

“Additionally, we must adhere to the PPP process as per the applicable law, which entails submitting the OBC and FBC, obtaining a Certificate of Compliance from the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), and seeking final approval from the FEC.

“Therefore, we highlighted the need to submit a business and investment proposal with a financial model that demonstrates the project’s recovery period and forms the basis for adopting the PPP framework.

“Again, it is crucial to emphasize that the port is just one aspect of the overall development of the Industrial Park. This development encompasses petrochemicals and various manufacturing facilities.

“The required approvals for these aspects are not within NPA’s jurisdiction. They would follow the process under the ICRC Act

“In a nutshell, the proposal hasn’t provided the Authority with the necessary information to advise further.

“The Federal Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy has expressed significant interest in this project and has equally requested additional details. The Minister, Gboyega Oyetola and the Authority are especially keen on working with proponents to develop one deep seaport in the eastern region, at the barest minimum.”

Recall that an approval was granted for a deep sea port in Escravos (Gbaramatu Island/Omadino) Warri South via a Joint venture partnership/PPP in 2019. The project which is expected to be located on a 31,000hectares of land in Delta state, will encompass a Deep sea port, Crude oil refinery, Gas Complex, Independent Power Plant, Airport and a Nature Park.

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