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NPA debunks cargo clearance delay allegation

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Barth Ndubuwah, Port Harcourt

The Port Manager (PM), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Onne Port, Rivers State, Mr. Stanley Magaji Titnoe has cleared the air that NPA Onne Port under his watch does clear or handle cargoes, this he said, took after concession of the ports some years ago.

The Port Manager made the clarification Friday, when members of the Maritime, Energy Media Practitioners (MEMPON) led by their National President, Amb (Dr) Ralph John paid him a courtesy visit at Onne. He stressed that as landlord, NPA only ensures that ships are brought into port, thereby creating an enabling environment for business to thrive.

Mr Titnoe also emphasized the significance of the media in the workability of the maritime industry and by extension the society, urging the media to be careful in the discharge of their duty. The Port Manager said the reason is that the media can make or mar the society.

The Port Manager who apologized for  having not  engaged with the media since he assumed office, attributed it to some circumstances beyond his control.

He, however, assured of partnering with MEMPON henceforth, noting that anything involving publicity is handled by NPA Management.

“Media is essential for the activities of the society, including the maritime industry. The role of government is in paripasu with the media. Though we have not been able to engage with the media for reasons beyond our control, we look forward to working with MEMPON. I therefore direct you to always liase with the Corporate Communication and Strategy Department on issues relating to media, who will advise me accordingly,” the Port Manager said.

“Your pen can make or mar the society, hence there is need for you to be careful in your reportage. Stand by the truth always and the society shall be good for all of us,” he added.

The National President of MEMPON, Amb (Dr) Ralph John had earlier told the Port Manager that his group has been friends to Onne Port from inception and so his leadership wants to consolidate on that relationship.

He congratulated the Port Manager on his appointment and thanked him for the reception, promising that MEMPON under his leadership will continue to be supportive to Onne Port in its activities.

The President used the opportunity to inform the PM that some Customs Agents recently accused the NPA Management in Onne of unnecessarily delaying their cargoes from leaving the port.

Reacting to the allegation, the Port Manager said since NPA concessioned the ports, it has handsed-off cargo handling and that cargo clearance is strictly the statutory duty of Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and NPA does not interfer with that.

He said as landlord of the port, NPA only ensures that ships are brought in, but responsibility of clearing the cargoes solely lies on NCS.

“So NPA has nothing to do with delay of cargoes, in fact we charge demurrage for unnecessary delay of cargoes, to discourage shippers or agents from keeping their cargoes in the port after due clearance. So it is not true that NPA stops any cargo from leaving the port after NCS’ clearance. Our duty is to create enabling environment for business to thrive,”Titnoe explained.

Adding his voice, the Traffic Manager,Onne Port, Prince Zhattau Ganagtim advised journalists to always contact the Corporate Communication and Strategy Department to avail them with the workings of the port.

He said the agents that are complaining are more culpable in the issues that delay the cargoes.

He noted that the Executive Order of the Federal Government provides for a single-widow cargo examination, which he said operators and agents are not complying with.

According to him, Nigerian Shippers Council as Economic Regulator should explain why the Standard Operational Manual is not working.

The Vice President of MEMPON, Mr Barth Ndubuwah also thanked the Port Manager  and his team for squeezing out time from their tight schedule to receive his group, assuring them that they shall reciprocate the kind gesture.

 

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Nigerians to pay more as Multichoice Nigeria hikes Dstv, Gotv subscription fees by 25%

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Multichoice Nigeria, a prominent Pay-TV operator, has once again announced a price increase for its DStv and GOtv packages, this time by at least 25 percent.

This marks the third increment since last year, following the initial adjustment implemented on May 1, 2023.

Multichoice stated that the latest increase will take effect from Wednesday, May 1, 2024. While last year’s increment ranged between 19 percent to 20 percent depending on the bouquet, the company is now announcing a 25 percent to 26 percent increase across its packages.

The new subscription fees were communicated to customers via an email titled “Price Adjustment on DStv and GOtv Packages” on Wednesday, April 24, 2024. Below is an excerpt from the email message that subscribers received.

On Wednesday, 1 May 2024 we will adjust our prices across all our packages on OStv and GOtv. We understand the impact this change may have on you – our valued customer, but the rise in the cost of business operations has led us to make this difficult decision.

 It remains our mission to provide the best entertainment and viewing experience to you and are committed to continue to deliver high-quality content and unparalleled service.

“So, from Wednesday, 1 May 2024, the price adjustment will take effect as follows.”

According to the notice sent to its subscribers, customers on the DStv Premium package will see their monthly subscription fee increase to N37,000 starting from May 1, marking a 25.4 percent rise from the current N29,500.

 Similarly, the price of the Compact+ bouquet has been raised to N25,000 from N19,800 per month, reflecting a 26.2 percent increment.

DStv has also announced that subscribers on its Compact bouquet will now pay N15,700, up from the current N12,500, representing a 25.6 percent increase. Meanwhile, those on the Confam package will face a 25.6% hike as their monthly subscription rises to N9,300 from N7,400.

 Under the new pricing structure, viewers on the DStv Yanga bouquet will be charged N5,100 for their monthly subscription, marking a 21.43 percent increase over the current N4,200 fee.

Multichoice has announced price increases across its GOtv packages. Customers on the Supa Plus package will now pay N15,700, marking a 25.6 percent rise from the current price of N12,500. Similarly, the Supa bouquet will see its price increase to N9,600 from the current N7,600.

For the GOtv Max subscription, the new price is N7,200, up from N5,700, while the Jolli package will now cost N4,850, compared to the current price of N3,950. Multichoice has also adjusted the price of its lowest GOtv package, Jinja, which will now be N3,300 monthly instead of the current N2,700.

Although Multichoice Nigeria is yet to issue any statement regarding the factors behind the recent price review, Nigeria’s inflation increased to 33.2 percent.

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BPE seeks collaboration with NLC on privatisation process

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By Matthew Dennis

The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), under the leadership of the Acting Director General, Mr. Ignatius Ayewoh, recently paid a courtesy visit to the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Joe Ajero, to seek collaboration with the Labour Union in the ongoing reform and privatisation program of the Federal Government.

This is contained in a statement signed by Head, Public Communications, Amina Tukur Othman, and made available to NewsDirect on Tuesday.

The statement stated that Mr. Ayewoh emphasised the importance of collaboration with the labour unions to ensure the welfare of workers during and after government agency reforms. He expressed gratitude to Mr. Ajero and the Union for their past support and urged them to continue partnering with the Bureau, particularly as members of the Technical Committee (TC) of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP).

Highlighting BPE’s previous successes in various sectors of the Nigerian economy such as telecoms, banking, Eleme petrochemical, and port terminal concessions, Mr. Ayewoh stated that the Bureau’s current strategy is focused on implementing Public Private Partnership (PPP) and concessioning in its transactions.

Furthermore, Mr. Ayewoh informed Mr. Ajero that BPE is working closely with the Accountant General’s Office to ensure the payment of all outstanding severance liabilities arising from the 2013 privatisation of the power sector, in accordance with agreements made with labour unions.

In response, Mr. Ajero thanked the Ag. DG for the visit and pledged the collaboration of the NLC with the Bureau in its reform activities.

It is worth noting that, in 2023 the BPE, along with other sister agencies, conducted a verification exercise for the payment of the agreed 16-month severance benefits to former staff of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), including certified Next-of-Kin (NOK) of deceased ex-staff. The exercise took place in twelve designated centres over four phases across the country.

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Qualcomm announces shortlisted startups for Make in Africa 2024

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Qualcomm has announced the shortlisted startups for Qualcomm Make in Africa 2024, as well as the winner of the 2023 Wireless Reach Social Impact Fund.

The Qualcomm Africa Innovation Platform, now in its second year, aims to work with and support the development of Africa’s emerging technology ecosystem by providing mentorship, education, and training programs with a focus on 5G, Edge-AI/ML, Compute, and IoT. This year, Qualcomm received an overwhelming response, with approximately 250 applications from 30 countries./

As the first initiative of its kind in Africa, Qualcomm Make in Africa is an equity-free mentorship program that identifies promising early-stage startups keen on applying advanced connectivity and processing technologies such as 5G, Edge-AI/ML, Compute, and IoT to innovative end-to-end systems solutions, including hardware.

These startups have demonstrated exceptional potential in applying advanced connectivity and processing technologies to innovative end-to-end systems solutions. The selected startups will receive free mentorship, business coaching, access to engineering consultation for product development, and guidance on protecting intellectual property.

The 2024 cohort includes the following startups (listed in alphabetical order):  Aurora Health from Kenya provides AI-based cardiovascular health care tools, CropScan from Kenya uses solar-powered smart farming IoT devices, Cure Bionics from Tunisia makes smart 3D printed prosthetic arms, DevisionX from Egypt provides AI-based low-code computer vision tools, Kalio from Cameroon is building AI tools for Agricultural IoT, Kitovu from Nigeria provides tools and software for smart agricultural warehouse management, NextAI Studios from Kenya builds AI-based emotion detection into toys for children’s mental healthcare, RIM Nextgen from Kenya, uses smart tools for monitoring propane consumption, Sparcx from South Africa uses AI for enhancing radar signal processing and Vizmerald from Tunisia, is working on AI-based textile industry inspection.

The company also announced the awardee of the 2023 Wireless Reach Social Impact Fund. This fund, provided by Qualcomm through its Qualcomm® Wireless Reach™ Initiative, aims to support startups in scaling their societal and market impact. Ecorich Solutions Limited, a female-founded organization based in Nairobi, Kenya,/ will be awarded funding to help scale the impact of their smart organic food composter.

Wireless Reach funding will support Ecorich to address the dual challenge of organic waste management and the need for sustainable agricultural practices, with the goal of reducing environmental pollution, improving crop yields for farmers, and mitigating waste-related health risks for communities. The other nine startups from the 2023 cohort will also receive valuable stipends to continue fueling their growth. These startups have showcased innovative uses of wireless technology to address pressing needs in their communities./

In addition, Qualcomm is excited to highlight the progress of the L2Pro Africa IP e-learning Platform, a free online training program designed to empower startups, SMEs, and researchers in Africa to protect, secure, and maximise their innovations. This program has been created in collaboration with Adams and Adams, Africa’s leading intellectual property (IP) law firm. The education content has been updated with individual filing procedures for patents, industrial designs, and trademarks in the countries of Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, Rwanda and within the two African patent organisations, ARIPO and OAPI. These step-by-step descriptions of per-country filing requirements empower inventors to interact effectively with IP professionals such as an IP attorney and their respective IP offices./

“I am thrilled with the overwhelming response to the Africa Innovation Platform this year,” said President, QTL & Global Affairs, Qualcomm Incorporated,  Alex Rogers.

“The quality and diversity of the applications received reflect the immense talent and potential within Africa’s technology ecosystem. We are excited to work with the shortlisted startups and provide them with the necessary resources and support to drive innovation and create a positive impact in their communities.

“We applaud Qualcomm for launching the second year of its Innovate in Africa Platform, which not only equips the upcoming generation of African entrepreneurs with expertise in pivotal areas like AI/ML, healthcare, agri-tech, smart cities, and communications but also empowers them to safeguard their intellectual property through the complimentary L2ProAfrica program,” said Secretary General, African Telecommunications Union (ATU), John Omo./

Mr. Omo also emphasised that the ATU remains steadfast in its commitment to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship across the continent.

“Our youth innovation program, among other initiatives, plays a crucial role in cultivating the talents and aspirations of Africa’s young visionaries,” he affirmed. “We are ready to collaborate with additional partners to realize this objective.”

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