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NPA seeks collapse of export desk in Customs commands

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Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has urged the Comptroller General of Customs, Adewale Adeniyi, to collapse the export desk in various commands to strengthen the designated export command at Lilypond.

The Managing Director, NPA, Mr Mohammed Bello-Koko made the appeal when Adeniyi paid him a courtesy visit at the NPA headquarters on Thursday in Lagos.

Bello-Koko said the collapse of the export desk in different commands would reduce export bureaucracy, stressing that the facility in Lilypond should be put to proper use.

He added that NPA would work with customs to drive export as part of measures to support the Federal Government’s economic diversification efforts.

Bello-Koko also urged the CGC to look into the issue of 24 hours cargo operations, use of scanners and other challenges affecting efficiency in the port.

“Today’s meeting is to further collaborate on issues like decongestion of the port to bring efficiency and clear cargo as quickly as possible.

“We have discussed the issue of 24 hours cargo evacuation, on officers working on shifts to ensure cargoes are discharged and I appreciate the leadership in Tincan and Apapa commands for ensuring trade facilitation.

“For us to achieve 24 hours cargo evacuation, it means that the shipping lines, terminal operators and security must be on their toes, we have worked out modalities,” he said.

On the issue of scanners, Bello-Koko stressed the need for terminal operators to ensure that existing scanners were in good shape.

“The CGC has been quite cooperative to ensure that trade facilitation is seamless and ensure that cost of doing business at the port has been reduced.

“He has worked with us to see that the export desk set up is actually functioning. We have seen a great increase, a spike in the quantity of cargo in terms of export and we will discuss the best way to collapse the export desk.

“This is to ensure one reporting line so as to ensure proper monitoring in carrying out responsibilities,” he said.

The NPA boss noted that just recently, they received a directive for the setting-up of a national committee for the deployment of National Single Window, adding that customs would play a key role there.

He also added that the NPA was working with the Lagos State Government to decongest the port and strengthen security for night discharge of cargoes.

“The  Lagos State Government is working towards ensuring illumination, ones the whole place is lightened up, we reduce the people that will hang around in the night to create havoc.

“NPA will ensure that the port premises are illuminated, and discuss with the Nigerian Police, the marine police operating within the port for security as the Federal Government is serious about improving port efficiency,” he said.

Responding, Adeniyi said his visit to the NPA was to deepen the collaboration to ensure efficiency and competitiveness in the port.

He said both organisations work together to address anything that would negate the smooth operations at the port.

“On efficiency of the port, we need to talk about how friendly they are, how good our processes are, the safety, the culture and integrity to get it right.

“In other climes, the port operates around the clock and we are happy with the progress we have made on 24-hour operations.

“We are also engaging with our colleagues on the other side of the border, the Benin Republic, to ensure that laws are respected, and it is about putting regulations which are flouted,” he said.

Adeniyi called for deployment of technology for competitive and efficient service delivery at the port.

“If we deploy technology to examine goods rather than subjecting them to 100 percent examination, that is one way to make them faster and more efficient.

“More importantly, we are working with all our partners, we are launching a time release study for us to actually determine the time and cost it takes to clear goods in our ports,” he said.

He noted that the aim was to identify the bottlenecks affecting operations at the port.

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Nigeria to raise $30bn from inaugural forex bond

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Nigeria targets up to $30 billion from its inaugural foreign currency-denominated bond issuance planned for June, 2024.

Patience Oniha, Director-General of the Debt Management Office, disclosed this recently in an interview with newsmen.

Accordingly, the government authority said the sovereign domestic foreign currency issuance aligns with moves to attract more forex inflows to stabilise the naira, which had suffered immensely from dollar shortages.

“It’s when we appoint the advisers that we can probably do a projection.
Oniha said: “But the assumption is that many Nigerians hold dollars in their domiciliary accounts, and not just individuals but institutions including banks and Nigerians in the diaspora as well.

“So it’s a way of bringing dollar liquidity into the system; the federal government of Nigeria (FGN) will get needed dollar liquidity. The target investors are individual Nigerians and institutions, and if Nigerians in the diaspora want to invest, they can also.”

The development comes as the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the economy, Wale Edun, recently announced that a debut forex bond is planned for the second quarter of 2024 and will be a short to medium-term instrument.

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UBA America hosts Diplomats, Business Leaders at World Bank Summit

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UBA America, the United States subsidiary of United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc hosted diplomats, government officials and business leaders to a networking reception in partnership with the esteemed Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU) and the U.S. Department of States in Washington DC on Monday.

The event which was held on the sidelines of the ongoing IMF World Bank Spring Meetings was organised by the BCIU and US Department of State to enhance collaboration and fortify commercial diplomacy among nations, institutions and individuals.

Speaking during the event, UBA’s Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Oliver Alawuba, noted that the bank’s co-hosting of the event via its American subsidiary, underscores its commitment towards cultivating robust relationships within the development communities in the United States.

He said, “As a distinguished member of BCIU, a non-profit organisation providing customised commercial diplomacy services, UBA Group and UBA America share BCIU’s vision of actively pursuing strategic opportunities, contributing to global economic cooperation, deepening of economic diplomacy, facilitating ideas, forging partnerships, and adding value for all stakeholders.

“Our resolve to co-host this Networking Reception symbolises our dedication to fostering inclusive economic growth and partnership across borders. By leveraging platforms like this, we can collectively address shared challenges and seize opportunities for sustainable development,” he stated further.

BCIU is a non-profit Association comprising of policy experts, strategic advisors, and trade educators, and offers bespoke commercial diplomacy services to the world’s governments and leading organisations, from Fortune 100 companies to global investors and multilateral institutions.

Only last year, the CEO UBA America, Sola Yomi-Ajayi, was appointed to the Board of BCIU, where she collaborates with fellow board members to ensure the organisation operates in alignment with its by-laws and New York 501(c)3 non-profit legislation.

Yomi-Ajayi has been committed to nurturing long-term organisational growth and sustainability, thereby reinforcing the bond between UBA America, BCIU, and the broader international community.

UBA America is the United States subsidiary of United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, one of Africa’s leading financial institutions with presence in 20 African countries, as well as in the United Kingdom, France, and the United Arab Emirates. UBA America serves as a vital link between Africa and the global financial markets, offering a range of banking services tailored to meet the needs of individuals, businesses, and institutions.

As the only sub-Saharan African bank with an operational banking license in the U.S., UBA America is uniquely positioned to provide corporate banking services to North American institutions doing business with or in Africa.

UBA America delivers treasury, trade finance, and correspondent banking solutions to sovereign and central banks, financial institutions, SMEs, foundations, and multilateral and development organisations. Leveraging its knowledge, capacity, and unique position as part of an international banking group, the Bank seeks to provide exceptional value to our customers around the world.

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FG to launch 2700 CNG buses, tricycles before May 29

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The Presidency on Sunday said it was ready to launch about 2,700 CNG-powered buses and tricycles before May 29 when President Bola Tinubu turns one year in office.

It said the Federal Government is set to deliver 100 conversion workshops and 60 refuelling sites spread across 18 states before the end of 2024.

The Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Mr. Bayo Onanuga, revealed this in a statement he signed Sunday titled ‘Presidential CNG initiative set for rollout.’

“From the end of May, Nigeria will take some baby steps to join such nations that already have large fleets of CNG vehicles.

“All is now ready for delivery of the first set of critical assets for deployment and launch of the CNG initiative ahead of the first anniversary of the Tinubu administration on May 29.

“About 2,500 of the tricycles will be ready before May 29, 2024…working towards delivering 200 units before the first anniversary of the Tinubu administration,” said the Presidency.

It added that in all, over 600 buses are targeted for production in the first phase which will be accomplished in 2024.

In October 2023, about five months after the removal of the petrol subsidy, President Tinubu launched the Presidential CNG Initiative to deliver cheaper, safer and more climate-friendly energy.

The CNG Initiative was designed to deliver compressed natural gas, especially for mass transit.

The Federal Government earmarked N100bn (part of the N500bn palliative budget) to purchase 5500 CNG vehicles (buses and tricycles), 100 Electric buses and over 20,000 CNG conversion kits, with plans to develop CNG refilling stations and electric charging stations nationwide.

The FG had said the initiative would ease the burden of the increased pump price on the masses.

“After months of detailed planning and background work, the committee driving the initiative is set to deliver on President Tinubu’s vision and promise,” Onanuga affirmed.

Part of Sunday’s announcement was the creation of a new plant on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway that will assemble the tricycles while Brilliant EV will assemble electric vehicles when it receives the Semi Knocked Down components.

The Presidency explained further, “The SKD parts manufactured by the Chinese company LUOJIA in partnership with its local partner to support the consortium of local suppliers of CNG tricycles are set for shipment to Nigeria and expected to arrive early in May.

“In collaboration with the private sector, the PCNGI is set to deliver 100 conversion workshops and 60 refuelling sites spread across 18 states before the end of this year.”

Four plants owned by JET, Mikano, Mojo, and Brilliant EV located in various parts of the country are involved in the assembly of the semi-knocked-down components of the CNG buses, Onanuga revealed.

He added “JET, which has received the SKD parts is coupling the buses in Lagos and is working towards delivering 200 units before the first anniversary of the Tinubu administration.

“Brilliant EV will assemble electric vehicles. It is awaiting the SKD parts, which will arrive in due course. The electric vehicles it will produce are meant for states such as Kano and Borno, which do not have access to CNG for now.

“They will also be available in key Nigerian cities and university campuses. It must be noted that soon-to-be-completed gas pipeline projects initiated by the Buhari administration and being completed by NNPCL (the AKK Pipeline) will take gas into the hinterlands of North East and North West where there is a current paucity.”

Onanuga said the deployment of CNG buses and tricycles and the vision to get at least one million natural gas-propelled vehicles on our roads by 2027 will mark a major energy transition in our country’s transportation industry.

With necessary tax and duty waivers approved by President Tinubu in December 2023, the PCNGI committee is partnering with the private sector to deliver the promise on the initiative, he explained further.

Therefore, the private sector has so far responded with over $50m in actual investments in refuelling stations, conversion centres and mother stations.

Also, a safety policy document on 80 standards and regulations that must be strictly adhered to by operators has been developed and approved to ensure CNG conversions are done safely and reliably.

The FG also plans to sell thousands of conversion kits for petrol-powered buses and taxis that want to migrate to CNG at subsidised rates, especially to commercial vehicle drivers to bring down the cost of public transportation.

The Presidency said as part of private sector collaboration, NIPCO and BOVAS are involved in offering refilling services for the CNG vehicles and also serving as conversion centres.

“NIPCO is setting up 32 stations nationwide to offer the services. The company has completed the set-up of four of the CNG stations.

“Likewise, BOVAS is setting up eight stations in Ibadan, two each in Ekiti, Abuja and four in Ilorin. MRS is also involved.

“It is making efforts to announce where its refilling stations and conversion centres will be,” the Presidential aide explained.

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