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Nigeria not at risk of debt distress — DMO



The Debt Management Office has stated that Nigeria is not at risk of ‘debt distress’ due to its $15.9 billion Eurobonds.

The DMO made the clarification in a statement on its website in reaction to an alarm raised by Robert Asogwa, a member of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Asogwa had expressed worry over the country’s rising debt, particularly the increasing accumulation of Eurobonds in the external debt component.

He said, “The unexplained Government’s preference of Eurobonds at high-interest costs, with the associated exchange rate, risk may likely hurt Nigeria sooner than anticipated.

“The escalating fiscal sector deficits with the attendant rising debt ratios are part of the weak links in the domestic economic environment.

“The poor revenue growth in a period of expanding Government’s expenditures has continued to soar the budget deficit levels in the first quarter of 2022, similar to the trend witnessed in 2021.”

The DMO stated that Asogwa’s statements “may have been made without consideration for the country’s borrowing needs as captured in the Annual Budgets, Medium Term Expenditure Framework and the Debt Management Strategy.”

Explaining further, the DMO stated that the borrowing needs are derived from the Annual Budgets while the borrowing mix is based on the subsisting Debt Management Strategy.

It added that successive Debt Management Strategies had always indicated that the Federal Government’s preferred source of borrowing was concessional sources rather than commercial sources like Eurobonds.

“For instance, one of the objectives of the Debt Management Strategy 2020-2023 is maximising funds available to Nigeria from multilateral and bilateral sources in order to access cheaper and long tenored funds.

“Given the size of new borrowings in the annual budgets over the years, it will not have been proper for the Federal Government to raise all the funds from the domestic market.

“That will result to Government crowding the private sector and raising borrowing rates. Consequently, some part of the required funding has to be raised externally,” it added.

It also revealed that due to these factors, Nigeria accesses concessional and semi-concessional loans as may be available, while issuing Eurobonds to part-fiance the annual budgets and the infrastructure projects contained therein.

To prevent Nigeria from slipping into debt distress, the DMO emphasised the need to generate more revenues, significantly beyond the current levels.

Money market

CBN assures public of strong banking sector amidst economic challenges



By Sodiq Adelakun

Amidst ongoing conversations about a fresh round of recapitalisation, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has released a statement affirming the robustness of the country’s banking sector.

This announcement is particularly significant as it addresses the concerns raised by the dual challenges of internal and external economic strains that the banks are currently navigating.

The findings provide reassurance to stakeholders that despite the potential upheavals associated with recapitalization efforts, the banking sector remains on solid ground.

The central bank’s evaluation highlighted the sector’s resilience and is expected to contribute positively to the ongoing discourse on how best to fortify the banks for future stability and growth.

“The Central Bank has given assurances on the soundness of the Nigerian Banking sector, even amidst the macroeconomic challenges facing the economy due to both external and internal shocks. This statement was contained in the CBN 2023 Economic Report.”

According to the apex bank, Nigerian banks recorded a capital adequacy ratio of 14.2 percent, higher than the 13.8 percent recorded in the previous quarter.

The Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR), is a critical measure of a bank’s ability to absorb potential losses. The apex bank also stated that in the area of asset quality which is measured by the Non-Performing Loans (NPL) ratio, there was a slight increase to 4.5 percent. This remains below the 5.0 percent prudential benchmark, indicating a controlled level of credit risk within the sector.

In terms of Industry Liquidity Ratio (LR), the bank stated that there was a notable improvement in the LR, which rose to 73.8 percent, significantly higher than the preceding month’s 62.2 percent and well above the 30.0 percent regulatory requirement. This suggests a strong capacity of the banks to manage short-term liabilities. 

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced its intention to carry out a fresh round of banking recapitalization for the Deposit Money Banks (DMBs).

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN),  Mr Olayemi Cardoso  announced on Friday night during the 58th Annual Bankers’ Dinner in Lagos, organised by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).

The planned recapitalisation means that DMBs will be required to raise additional capital to meet the demands of Nigeria’s economy.

Cardoso highlighted that in his report to the Policy Advisory Council on the national economy, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu set an ambitious target of reaching a $1 trillion Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2030.

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$13.5trn required for decarbonisation of major industries — WEF



In a significant report released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in partnership with Accenture, an estimated $13.5 trillion investment has been deemed necessary to decarbonize critical industries and meet the ambitious net-zero emissions target.

The report, titled ‘The Net-Zero Industry Tracker 2023,’ evaluates the current state of net-zero efforts across eight key sectors.

These sectors, which include steel, cement, aluminium, ammonia (excluding other chemicals), oil and gas, aviation, shipping, and trucking, are particularly challenging to decarbonize as they rely on fossil fuels for 90 percent of their energy needs.

The WEF’s analysis highlights the urgency of transforming these industries, which are responsible for a substantial 40 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Roberto Bocca, the Head of the Centre for Energy and Materials at the World Economic Forum, emphasised the critical nature of this endeavor.

 According to Bocca, achieving net-zero emissions in the industrial and transport sectors is a cornerstone in the global effort to combat climate change.

“Decarbonising these industrial and transport sectors, which emit 40 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions today, is essential to achieving net zero, especially as demand for industrial products and transport services will continue to be strong,” he said.

The report stressed that the $13.5 trillion in investments is derived from average clean power generation costs of solar, off-shore and on-shore wind, nuclear and geothermal, electrolyzer costs for clean hydrogen and carbon transport, and storage costs.

It emphasised the urgency for creating a robust enabling environment, including low-emissions technologies, infrastructure, demand for green products, policies and investments.

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Zenith Bank set to expand into France with new subsidiary



In a landmark move for Nigerian banking, Zenith Bank Plc has announced a significant expansion into the European market.

The bank has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the French Government, paving the way for the establishment of a new subsidiary in France.

The agreement was formalized in a ceremony on Friday, November 24, 2023, with Jim Ovia, CFR, the Founder and Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc, and Mr. Olivier Becht, the French Minister for Trade, Attractiveness and French Nationals Abroad, both affixing their signatures to the MoU.

This strategic partnership will leverage Zenith Bank’s UK-based subsidiary, Zenith Bank (UK) Limited, as a springboard to extend its services into the French financial market.

The next step for Zenith Bank will be to obtain the necessary regulatory approval from the Autorite’ de Controle Prudentiel et de Resolution (ACPR), France’s banking regulator. The move is seen as a bold step in Zenith Bank’s efforts to increase its global footprint and provide its clientele with a more diverse range of financial services.

The establishment of a subsidiary in France is expected to enhance the bank’s operational efficiency and competitive edge in the European market.

Speaking during the signing ceremony, the Founder and Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc, Jim Ovia, CFR, said, “It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to Nigeria and Zenith Bank. I am indeed very delighted about the signing of this MoU with France. For me, it is an honour to do this on behalf of the bank, and we look forward to securing the licence and starting operations in early 2024.”

He thanked the French Ambassador to Nigeria, Emmanuelle Blatmann and her colleagues at the French Embassy in Nigeria for their efforts towards improving French-Nigerian business relations.

Also speaking during the ceremony, the French Minister for Trade, Attractiveness and French Nationals Abroad, Mr. Olivier Becht, said, “I want to thank you very much for your decision to open a branch of Zenith Bank in Paris. We are thrilled to welcome in France Zenith Bank’s first office inside the European Union. 

“For us, that’s a very good signal, and it is undoubtedly a demonstration of mutual confidence. No doubt also that your vision on international finance guided you to decide to open this branch and this decision in many respects can also be regarded as a milestone in French-Nigerian economic relations and an illustration of our friendship.”

He noted that the government of President Macron had adopted a pro-business agenda in order to make France more attractive by undertaking several reforms in labour law, simplifying a lot of procedures and cutting business taxes, corporate taxes and production taxes by more than 25 billion Euros, adding that “we hope that the opening of the branch of Zenith Bank in France will also be an occasion to boost the French-Nigerian business in order to have more French companies investing in Nigeria and also to have more Nigerian companies investing in France.”

Zenith Bank has continued to distinguish itself in the Nigerian financial services industry through superior service offerings, unique customer experience and sound financial indices.

The bank remains a clear leader in the digital space, with several firsts in deploying innovative products and solutions and an assortment of alternative channels that ensure convenience, speed, and safety of transactions. Zenith Bank also has subsidiaries in Ghana, Zenith Bank (Ghana) Limited; Sierra Leone, Zenith Bank (Sierra Leone) Limited; The Gambia, Zenith Bank (Gambia) Limited. The Bank also has a Representative Office in The People’s Republic of China.

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