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LCE to list Agvest N5bn cashew nut contracts



The Lagos Commodities and Futures Exchange (LCFE) has screened Agvest Ltd. for listing of its N5 billion cashew nut contracts by diversified financial instruments.

The financial instruments would be offered to the investing public through Commercial Papers (CP) and short term Exchange Traded Nites (ETN).

Agvest’s Managing Director, Mr Olabode Abikoye, said this at a news conference on Tuesday in Lagos.

Abikoye explained that the proceeds of the offer would enable Agvest to get both plantation and factory up and running in West Africa at the first instance.

He said the company would commence with cashew aggregation on the spot market.

“Our decision to list cashew nut contracts on the Lagos Commodities and Futures Exchange is to enable private investors enjoy the benefits of quotation.

“We shall by this approach support the government’s drive to generate foreign exchange.

“We have 210 hectares of land as plantation in Iwo, Oyo State and we are working closely with Oyo State Investment and Public Partnership Agency (OYSIPA) to activate our plan.

“As a listed product, our cashew shall always meet international standard as prescribed by the International Standard Organisation which requires good temperature, moisture level and grade.

“Many stakeholders in the commodities value chain in Nigeria operate in silos. One of our company’s functions is to integrate the stakeholders in the value chain,” Abikoye said.

Also speaking, the Managing Director, LCFE, Mr Akin Akeredolu-Ale, noted that Nigeria had opportunities to earn robust income from cashew nut.

“The Nigerian cashew sector is dominated by smallholder farmers numbered at about 25,000 and some commercial plantations, with an average cultivated area of 325,000 hectare.

“The local processing industry is growing gradually while there is a significant rise in export due to increased awareness of export potential and processing opportunities,” said Akeredolu-Ale.

He added that other actors in the ecosystems included local buying agents, processors, exporters, and service providers.

“The challenges around the production and processing of cashew in Nigeria mainly centre around the primary production of cashew from aged trees.

“Thanks to scientific research, there has been a substantial improvement in seed varieties that have introduced improved varieties which present primary production efforts to meet the quality requirements of the international market,” Akeredolu-Ale said.

The Chairman, Mega Group, Mr Sam Onukwue, expressed optimism that LCFE would transform the commodities ecosystem and put it on the global map.

Onukwue attributed one of the challenges that raw exporters faced to their inability to repatriate funds to the country.

He said the listing would enhance the country’s Gross Domestic Product, create foreign exchange and as well boost employment.

Agvest is an investment company focused on proprietary investment in critical assets and infrastructure that make for efficiency in the agriculture value chain including, irrigation, mechanisation, storage, post-harvest handling, intermediate processing and logistics.

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Stakeholders at PIAFo identify obstacles to FG’s 90,000km fibre project



Stakeholders in the telecommunications industry have said the Federal Government’s plan to deploy 90,000 kilometres of fibre optic cables across the country will face several obstacles, especially from state governments, that might truncate the project.

According to them, without addressing the current issue of Right of Way charges, multiple taxation, and levies, which are under the control of state governments, the project which is to be implemented through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) would be an exercise in futility.

The stakeholders spoke during the Sixth Edition of the Policy Implementation Assisted Forum (PIAFO) in Lagos on Wednesday, which was a focus on Nigeria’s renewed strategic agenda for the digital economy.

They stressed the need to ensure the successful implementation of the project which was announced recently by the Federal Government to complement existing connectivity for universal access to the internet across Nigeria and provide the Nigerian digital economy with the backbone infrastructure it needed.

Presenting a paper on the topic, ‘Harmonising Nigeria’s Fibre Deployment Strategies for Effective Implementation,’ Executive Director of Broadbased Communications, Mr. Chidi Ibisi,  said while the government’s SPV initiative is a good plan that could help the country bridge its current digital infrastructure gap, the government would need to address current challenges.

“The issues of high cost of Right of Way (RoW), destruction of fiber by road construction companies and vandals all need to be addressed for this new SPV initiative to be successful,” he said.

Highlighting some of the challenges telecom operators face when deploying infrastructure, the Group Chief Operating Officer of WTES Projects Limited, Mr. Chidi Ajuzie, said the biggest challenge to fibre cable laying in Nigeria is the informal RoW by hoodlums in states.

“For states, a formal right of way is set and some states are adopting it but the informal side of the right of way is where the complexity has come today.

“If I’m trying to lay fibre in some communities here in Lagos, the first thing that happens is the so-called land owners (omo onile) come out and a different set of people will keep coming from one street to another and they charge you. How do we achieve adequate broadband infrastructure in this kind of situation?” he said.

According to the Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, for the 90,000 kilometres fibre project to succeed, the state governments have to take ownership.

“For the project to succeed, I think the governments at sub-nationals should take ownership. This issue of state governments seeing right of way as IGR should be a thing of the past. We can’t talk about the digital economy on one side and the government is seeing those who provide the services as sources of revenue.

“The government has always come up with good policies, but the implantation, particularly when they are tested far afield, is the biggest problem. Governors will go to Abuja and say ‘in my state, I will give the right of way free of charge.’

“When you go to such a state, they may give you the right of way for zero or one Naira, but they will give you developmental levy, education levy, state impact levy, ecosystem levy. When you add all of these together, it is more than the right of way charges. So, who is playing who?” he said.

Making vital contributions at the forum, Dr. Ayotunde Coker, the Chief Executive Officer of Open Access Data Centre (OADC) stressed the need for the fibre project to be executed by the private sector even as the World Bank is expected to fund it with up to $3 billion.

He said, “The World Bank can put money into the government but it needs private sector partnerships as the execution engine and that’s what we’ve been pushing in Africa.

“The key thing is that when the World Bank puts the money in, it should engage the private sector, figure out the policies that it needs to do and enable the private sector to execute them effectively and make it as open as possible. With that, they can achieve what they are trying to achieve.”

He further stressed that for the success of the project, Nigeria should learn lessons of what didn’t work in the past, to achieve the new broadband penetration targets with the fibre range that is required.

“Meaningful broadband is what we need, rather than just a huge set of megabits per second implementation. We need superhighway fibres. We need the distribution of these backbone that allows us then to fan out.”

He further urged state governors to be part of the project by providing an enabling environment for infrastructure roll-out, adding: “if you are a state governor and didn’t participate in it, the state won’t grow and it’s going to impact your state.”

Earlier in his opening address, the convener of PIAFo, Mr. Omobayo Azeez, said the conference was to create a midpoint dialogue platform for digital economy stakeholders across both the public and private divides to brainstorm, exchange perspectives, clear grey areas, harmonise thoughts and create a sense of collective responsibility towards accelerating our collective prosperity through technical efficiency.

The event focused on Nigeria’s renewed strategic agenda for digital economy. According to him, the new digital economy blueprint of the federal government does not only sustain existing policy directions and targets, “it also challenges us on the possibilities of attaining new frontiers with a view to “Accelerating Our Collective Prosperity through Technical Efficiency” which is the theme of the summit.

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NLNG boss mulls collaboration with EFCC



The Managing Director of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited, Dr. Philip  Mshelbila has mulled a possible collaboration with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Mshelbila made this known in Abuja on Wednesday, July 10, 2024 when the NLNG management team, led by its Managing Director, paid a courtesy visit to the EFCC Executive Chairman, Mr. Ola Olukoyede and his team.

Mshelbila said that Olukoyede has inspired hope in Nigerians through his handling of the anti-corruption works. He urged him to continue in the tempo he has generated in that regard.

“We know that our country is where it is because things are often done the way that they should not be done. And so when there is an organisation that can act as a conscience of the country,  it is something that we are very proud of.

“We are proud of you, the Executive Chairman; we are proud of your team and we pray that you continue in doing all that you have been doing and show forth the light even when there is darkness all over the country,”  he said.

He noted that integrity was a common denominator in both the EFCC and the NLNG, thus making the Commission a natural choice for collaboration and partnership with NLNG.

“One of the reasons for the courtesy visit is because of the very nature of this organisation. This is one of the organisations that upholds integrity and transparency. This organisation represents to us integrity in Nigeria. And you may not understand why that is crucial to us in NLNG.

“We have what we call core values. Our core values are made up of a number of things which include safety. And after safety which means being alive to do the work, it is integrity. Integrity is the number two core value that we have as a company and we uphold it seriously.

“So when we see an organisation that stands for nothing but integrity it becomes something that appeals to us as a company and also as Nigerians because integrity is something that we crave for,” he said.

While pledging to support and aid the work of the Commission, the NLNG boss hoped for an enduring and mutually beneficial relationship going forward.

“We hope that the relationship that we are establishing today will be a lasting and enduring one,”  he said.

Olukoyede in his response, expressed appreciation for the initiative of the NLNG management and assured the delegation of the willingness and preparedness of the Commission to work with the company in the interest of the anti-corruption fight.

“We will look into your books when we have to, but it is important for us to work together. It is important for us to synergize and take it to the next level. Our mandate is to prevent corruption and financial crimes and we are committed to the work,” he said.

The EFCC boss, who further noted that tackling the country’s systemic rot was foundational in winning the anti-corruption war, stated that while enforcement remained crucial in the work of the Commission, prevention has been given priority by his leadership.

“I have set up a Directorate of Fraud Risk Assessment and Control (FRAC). We will go into MDAs to monitor project execution, to track money and they are cooperating with us. Anything that filters out, we will run after it and see what we can recover. In the next one year Nigerians will see the impact of the new measures that we have put in place.”

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World bank injects $200m boost into Ekiti State development projects



By Esther Agbo

The World Bank has pledged over $200 million for developmental projects in Ekiti State, with $60 million already disbursed, according to an official statement from the Ekiti State Government shared on their X page.

During a strategic meeting with Heads of Development Agencies at the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja, the World Bank Country Director, Dr. Ndiame Diop, disclosed that the funds are allocated for eight different projects. He urged stakeholders in the state to collaborate to ensure the success of these initiatives.

Governor Biodun Oyebanji spoke just as the WorldBank said it had committed over $200 million to Ekiti State, out of which $60 million has been disbursed so far in some critical aspects of the state’s development.

The World Bank Country Director, Dr Ndiame Diop who disclosed this during the Governor’s engagement, said the funds are directed at eight different projects.

He called for more effective collaboration from the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to ensure the success of the projects,” the statement read in parts.

Governor Biodun Oyebanji emphasised the importance of local and international partnerships in accelerating the state’s development goals. He praised the financial support from the World Bank, highlighting its potential to advance infrastructure, agriculture, healthcare, and education in Ekiti.

He also invited investors, assuring them that Ekiti provides an ideal environment for business operations.

He said, “We are a government that is reform minded, transparent, we are accountable and am leading a team that is competent and committed to the mandate of this administration.

“Everything we are doing in Ekiti is already planned for. We know the track we are following, we know the step we have taken and we are trying our best within the available resources as a state, but we know that we have the capacity and ability to do more and that is why we have invited you here today to say, please handhold us in areas where your institutions can partner and collaborate with us. Let us work together so that we can deliver good governance to the people of Ekiti State.

“We tick all boxes in transparency, we have a regulatory instrument in the state that ensures that we deliver on projects, and for those of you that have one program or the other in Ekiti, you will know that we adhere strictly to protocols for implementation, and that speaks to our commitment to doing things the right way.”

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