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Oyetola commissions seven NPA patrol boats to boats maritime security

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By Seun Ibiyemi

The Honourable Minister of Marine and Blue Economy on Thursday revealed that the $800 million needed for rehabilitation of the nation’s ports is almost ready.

Speaking during his commissioning of seven patrol boats by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Oyetola said that the commissioned boats are expected to improve efficiency at Nigerian ports.

According to the Honourable Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, “I commend the management of the NPA for taking the initiative to strengthen safety in the maritime space.

“Security is very important and we need to give it the kind of attention it deserves. We cannot be talking of trying to get the full potential of the Blue Economy without strengthening the security aspect of our ports.

“I am delighted to be here and very much believe we are going to have more of these boats.

“It is deliberate on the part of Mr. President to have created the Marine and Blue Economy ministry. Blue economy has always been there, but not as structured as to generate the kind of revenue a maritime nation like Nigeria should be earning.

“So part of what we are trying to do is to first ensure maritime security. Secondly we will be talking of automation of the ports to make it more efficient. Just two weeks ago, I received the report of the consultant of the Port Community System. Part of that is to drive efficiency at our ports.

“Again, we are modernising the ports. We want to be able to compete with any port in the world. We want to ensure that the vessel turnaround time is reduced to four days as opposed to about six to 10 days that we currently have.

“We must commend Mr. President for taking the initiative of creating the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy and for supporting us all the way.

“I can tell you that the fund for the Port rehabilitation is almost ready and we are going to commence rehabilitation anytime from now.”

Also speaking during the patrol boats commissioning, the Managing Director of the NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko explained that the procurement of the seven Security Patrol Boats was preceded by a robust needs assessment process undertaken by a highly experienced team drawn from the agency’s Security and Marine Operations Divisions and the Vessel Management Department, who were painstaking and followed through with the product output specification including necessary sea trials.

In the words of the NPA MD, “This event today is another testament to our commitment to continuous improvement in the journey towards transforming our strategic intent of ‘becoming the maritime logistics hub for sustainable Ports services in Africa’ from potential to actualities.

“Enhanced Maritime Safety, Security & Compliance to global acceptable standards is one of Nigerian Ports Authority’s Deliverables under the Presidential Priorities of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“What we are witnessing today therefore, is pursuant to achieving these deliverables and aligns with the presidential directives regarding performance of MDAs.

“In addition to positioning us to fulfil the fundamental requirement of security which constitutes a critical success factor in fulfilling two crucial aspects of our post-concession statutory mandates of ‘regulating maritime business and promoting ports security and safe haven for ships’ and ‘safeguarding and securing assets of the Authority while maintaining their optimal use,’  the deployment of these state-of-the-art Security Patrol Boats takes us a notch higher in our compliance with the dictates of International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) code of the International Maritime Organization.

“I therefore want to on behalf of the Management and Staff of the Nigerian Ports Authority commend and appreciate our amiable Minister for his tireless endorsement of our efforts at enhancing the competitiveness of our Ports.

“Our profound appreciation also goes to our highly valued security partners; the Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Police Force, Nigerian Army, the DSS and the Lagos state government whose collaborations continue to enhance our ability to detect, deter and respond to security threats and incidents before they fester.

“The procurement of the seven Security Patrol Boats we are commissioning today, was preceded by a robust needs assessment process undertaken by a highly experienced team drawn from our Security and Marine Operations Divisions and the Vessel Management Department, who were painstaking and followed through with the product output specification including necessary sea trials, and I will like to seize this moment to commend their professionalism and dedication to duty.

“The distinctive features and multiple functionalities of these marine crafts and the game changing effect they bring to bear on our security preparedness and capacity to respond to emergent threats are enormous. I have chosen to refrain from mentioning those superlatives here because of the security implication of doing so.

“However, I am especially delighted to say that these Security Patrol Boats position us to achieve our set goal of driving increased vessel traffic to the Eastern Ports of Onne, Rivers, Warri and Calabar Port Complexes where four of the vessels to be commissioned today have been allocated. “Although Onne Port has in recent years witnessed increased vessel traffic, we cannot rest on our laurels. We will continue to push the advocacy and galvanise stakeholder opinion towards growing the fortunes of the Eastern Ports.”

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Nigerian Breweries embarks on strategic recovery plan to boost profitability

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Nigerian Breweries Plc has embarked on a company-wide reorganisation business recovery plan to ensure a sustainable future for its stakeholders.

The company’s Human Resource Director, Grace Omo-Lamai, said this in a statement signed by Mrs Sade Morgan, its Corporate Affairs Director, to the leadership of some food and beverage associations on Friday in Lagos.

The associations include the National Union of Food, Beverage & Tobacco Employees and the Food Beverage and Tobacco Senior Staff Association.

Omo-Lamai said the move was essential to improve the company’s operational efficiency and return to profitability, in the face of the challenging business environment.

She said the proposed plan would include operational efficiency measures and a company-wide reorganisation that includes the temporary suspension of operations in two of its nine breweries.

“As a result, and in accordance with labour requirements, the company invited the unions to discussions on the implications of the proposed measures.

“It will be recalled that the company recently notified the Nigerian Exchange Group (NGX) of its plan to raise capital of up to N600 billion by way of a rights issue.

“This is as a means of restoring the company’s balance sheet to a healthy position following the net finance expenses of N189 billion recorded in 2023 driven mainly by a foreign exchange loss of N153 billion resulting from the devaluation of the naira,” she said.

Also, the Managing Director, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Mr Hans Essaadi, described the business recovery plan as strategic and vital for business continuity.

Essaadi noted that the tough business landscape characterised by double-digit inflation rates, Naira devaluation, foreign exchange challenges and diminished consumer spending had taken its toll on many businesses.

This, he said, was why the company had taken the decision to further consolidate its business operations for efficient cost management and optimal use of resources for future sustainable growth.

“We recognise and regret the impact that the suspension of brewery operations in the two affected locations may have on our employees.

“We are committed to limiting the impact on our people as much as possible by exhausting all options available including the relocation and redistribution of employees to our other seven breweries; and providing strong support and severance packages to all those that become unavoidably affected.

“We are also committed to supporting our host communities in ways that ensure they continue to feel our presence.

“We remain wholly committed to having a positive impact on our host communities and our consumers; leveraging our strong supply chain footprint; excellent execution of our route to market strategy; and our rich portfolio of brands,” he said.

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FG to provide solar subsidy in Nigeria through $750m World Bank loan

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The federal government plans to provide subsidy to developers and operators of solar mini-grids in unserved and underserved areas in the country.

The subsidy will be provided through a World Bank approved loan of $750 million under the Distributed Access through Renewable Energy Scale-up (DARES) project.

This was disclosed in the financing agreement for the loan project.

The financing agreement for the loan was signed by the Minister of Finance, Wale Edun, on March 31, 2024, and World Bank’s Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, on February 19, 2024.

The loan project is fundamentally aimed at augmenting the supply of electricity to both households and micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) through a surge in private sector-led distributed renewable energy initiatives.

The document noted that the loan will be partly used to provide “Support to the development and operation of privately owned and operated solar hybrid mini grids in unserved and underserved areas through: 1.1. Minimum Subsidy Tender Carrying out of Minimum Subsidy Tender processes and provision of Minimum Capital Cost Subsidies to selected developers/operators of: (a) Isolated mini grids; (b) Interconnected mini grids; or (c) Solar rooftop solutions in Participating States.”

Asides from providing subsidy, the federal government plans to also provide performance-based grants.

The document noted that there will be “Provision of Performance-Based Grants to eligible mini grid operators based on new customer connections for isolated mini grids and percentage of capital expenditures for interconnected mini grid projects.”

The grant will also cover Standalone Solar (SAS) Systems for Households, MSMEs, and Agribusinesses. This grant will provide “Support to the expansion of SAS systems for households, MSMEs, and agribusinesses in rural areas through: 2.1. Performance Based Grants for Standalone Solar Provision of Performance Based Grants (‘PBGs’) to eligible companies to rapidly deploy SAS solutions in rural and underserved areas, through supply and demand side support and based on independently verified outputs, and to support deployment of solar productive use of electricity (PUE) equipment to MSMEs, agribusinesses and commercial customers.”

There will also be “Catalytic Grants Provision of Catalytic Grants, on a matching basis, to eligible SAS companies that target the poor, remote, or hardest to reach consumers in the country.”

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IMF charges banks to guide against cyber attacks

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…As hackers make off with $12bn

Following reports that cyber thieves stole $12bn from global financial institutions in the last 20 years, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has called on Central Banks across the globe and financial institutions to strengthen resilience in the financial sector by developing an adequate national cybersecurity strategy accompanied by effective regulation and supervisory capacity.

This was contained in the April 2024 Rising Cyber Threats Pose Serious Concerns for Financial Stability report released by The Bretton Wood institution.

The report noted that greater digitalization and heightened geopolitical tensions imply that the risk of a cyberattack with systemic consequences has risen

The fund expressed concern that the rising incidents of cyberattacks on financial institutions globally could affect confidence in the financial system and destabilise economies while expressing worries that cyberattacks have more than doubled since the pandemic.

“Financial firms have reported significant direct losses, totaling almost $12 billion since 2004 and $2.5 billion since 2020,” the IMF stated.

According to the body, financial firms, given the large amounts of sensitive data and transactions they handle, are often targeted by criminals seeking to steal money or disrupt economic activity.

“Attacks on financial firms account for nearly one-fifth of the total, of which banks are the most exposed. Incidents in the financial sector could threaten financial and economic stability if they erode confidence in the financial system, disrupt critical services, or cause spillovers to other institutions.

“Cyber incidents that disrupt critical services like payment networks could also severely affect economic activity. For example, a December attack at the Central Bank of Lesotho disrupted the national payment system, preventing transactions by domestic banks,” IMF stated.

As part of measures proposed to guide against the attacks, the fund called for the periodic assessment of the cybersecurity landscape and identifying potential systemic risks from interconnectedness and concentrations, including from third-party service providers.

It further called for the encouragement of cyber “maturity” among financial sector firms, including board-level access to cybersecurity expertise, as supported by the chapter’s analysis which suggests that better cyber-related governance may reduce cyber risk.

Improving cyber hygiene of firms—that is, their online security and system health (such as antimalware and multifactor authentication)—and training and awareness.

Prioritising data reporting and collection of cyber incidents, and sharing information among financial sector participants to enhance their collective preparedness.

Noting that attacks often emanate from outside a financial firm’s home country and proceeds can be routed across borders, the IMF said international cooperation has also become imperative to address cyber risk successfully.

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