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Undersea cable cut cripples bank digital channels, business operations

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The digital banking channels of many commercial banks were shut down on Thursday due to widespread internet disruption that affected parts of East and West Africa.

Major undersea cables close to Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, are reportedly damaged, and this caused internet outages in West and South African nations.

The West Africa Cable System (WACS), the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE), MainOne, and SAT3 are the undersea cables that have been reported to be impacted so far.

A survey by Nigerian NewsDirect revealed that many mobile banking applications were failing.

One app whose widespread failure Nigerians were alarmed by was the FCMB mobile app.

Nigerians also took to their X (formerly Twitter) handles to berate the failure of the banking app to enable them to perform transactions.

An X user (@TheBig_Louu) said: “You can actually take a shower, boil water, and turn eba, even peel boiled eggs, while trying to open FCMB mobile app, and you would have done all these and still have time to spare before the app opens.”

Another user (@affyman) stated that he was almost stranded due to the inability to perform transactions on his FCMB app.

He said: “Fcmb almost made me trek home today wtf>ØrÝ”

Speaking to Nigerian NewsDirect, a business owner involved in food deliveries lamented the spate of the internet shut down.

“I noticed I couldn’t make transfers and my customers were unable to transfer to me. This impacted negatively on my sales.”

Similarly, a customer who spoke to Nigerian NewsDirect noted that she was unable to order her lunch due to the downtime her banking apps were experiencing.

“I was trying to make payment for my lunch but the transaction kept failing and the vendor couldn’t proceed with my order.”

Nigerian NewsDirect investigations revealed that the shutdown of digital banking channels of banks is not unconnected to the telecoms infrastructure of telecom companies which many banks rely on.

In a message to its customers on Thursday, MTN said, “Y’ello! We apologise for the challenges you may be experiencing with internet speed and accessing data services at the moment.

“This is as a result of damage to international undersea cables across East & West Africa. The repair process is ongoing to resolve the situation as soon as possible. Please look out for further updates.”

However, Glo 1, which is owned by Globacom, the largest provider of digital services in Nigeria, was untouched by the damage and is still running as usual.

Glo 1-powered financial institutions, internet service providers, and data consumers have all carried on with business as usual. Industry observers are of the view that Glo 1 International Submarine Cable’s resilient construction and durability are the reasons the damage did not compromise the cable.

Nigerian NewsDirect also recalls that two submarine cable systems that service the Nigerian market also suffered damage and cut off the coast of West Africa in 2023.

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Northern Govs pledge 5% budget allocation to help over four million IDPs

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Governors of Adamawa, Benue, Borno and Yobe states have pledged to commit over five percent budgetary allocations in their states to help over four million Internally displaced persons (IDPs).

The Governors made the commitment during the “Launch of the State Action Plans on Durable Solution to Internal Displacement” at the Presidential Villa Abuja.

Speaking virtually through an online conferencing platform, the United Nations (UN)N Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, said attaining such solutions “is a priority for Nigeria and for the United Nations Secretary-General,” noting the global number of internally displaced persons has doubled in ten years to nearly 76 million globally.

“Over four million Nigerians remain in search of solutions to their forced displacement,” she stated, adding that the state action plans “capture the first essential steps towards solutions.”

Earlier in his remarks, the UN Assistant Secretary-General and Special Advisor on Durable Solutions, Mr. Robert Piper, commended Nigeria’s commitment and leadership in being the first country among the 15 pilot countries to launch the programme.

“Today, despite the warnings and the real challenges, I have the honour to say, on behalf of the Secretary-General, that Nigeria is the first of all our 15 pilot countries to formally launch government plans placing over 4 million IDPs and Returnees on pathways to solutions,” he noted.

Piper noted that the launch of the programme is evidence of the political commitment to addressing the plight of IDPs in Nigeria, noting that “in many ways, the plans you launch today provide a model of how governments can take responsibility for ending displacement.”

“Let me reiterate our commitment on behalf of the United Nations: We will keep supporting on the ground; we will help rally donors; we will chase missing partners; we will bring (good and bad) lessons from elsewhere; we will celebrate your successes; we may occasionally bring you unwelcome news sometimes, as friends must; but we will stand behind you. We fail or succeed together,” he said.

Reechoing their thoughts, the Vice President of Nigeria, Senator Kashim Shettima called for a global partnership to address the problem of internal displacement in Nigeria.

The VP noted that the federal government is unwaveringly committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of displaced citizens.

He outlined the strategy adopted by the President Tinubu administration in tackling Nigeria’s internal displacement challenge, saying the nation prioritises the welfare of its people, particularly in these critical times.

The Action Plan is a United Nations Secretary General’s Solution Agenda on Internal Displacement which aims to help internally displaced persons find a durable solution to their displacement, prevent new displacement crises from emerging and ensure those facing displacement receive effective protection and assistance.

Unveiling the programme being implemented in four northern states of Adamawa, Benue, Borno and Yobe, VP Shettima said, “For a country that has endured the devastations of economic disadvantages across generations, we cannot afford further expansion in the displacement of our people. So, we remain committed to ensuring that each displaced individual returns to a safer environment and is given a lifeline to start afresh.”

He recalled his experience dealing with conflict and displacement, just as he emphasised the need for a collaborative, cross-border approach to tackling the multifaceted challenge.

“Let us harness the strength of our partnerships, both local and international, to bring about lasting change,” he urged.

The Vice President welcomed the support of the United States and other global partners, stressing that the task ahead demands a united front that transcends political divides.

“We are here to craft solutions that will outlive us, that will offer future generations a place of hope, a home for all, and a land of opportunity where dreams can be pursued without worry.

“The journey is not merely about addressing the symptoms of displacement but also about tackling the root causes,” he stated.

The Vice President further pledged investment in sustainable development, education, and economic opportunities as critical components of a comprehensive solution.

“By doing so, we not only address the immediate needs of the displaced but also create a foundation for a more stable and prosperous future,” the VP said.

He called for collaborative efforts transcending borders to bring about lasting change, stating that “the task ahead is immense, but with determination, unity, and a clear vision, we can make a profound difference.”

On its part, the United Nations commended the efforts of the state governments in drafting action plans for durable solutions to internal displacement.

On his part, Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum, said the State Government is fully committed to the implementation of the Action Plans on Durable Solutions, noting that 15 percent of the state’s annual budget will be dedicated to projects undertaken under the initiative.

Zulum recalled the efforts of the state government in the past few years in returning displaced persons to their communities, assuring stakeholders at the meeting that the government’s commitment to the cause of displaced persons remain unwavering.

On his part, Governor Hyacinth Alia of Benue State said the launch of the State Action Plans on Durable Solutions to Internal Displacement is a beacon of hope and catalyst for the transformation of lives and livelihoods in communities affected by conflict.

He commended Vice President Shettima for his inspirational leadership as well as the commitment of all the development partners involved in the project which he said aligns with the vision of the Benue State government to build a society where all residents can live in peace and harmony.

In the same vein, Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, said the State Government has executed projects across health, education, social welfare and security, in a bid to ensure that displaced persons return to their communities.

He reaffirmed the commitment of the state government in the operationalisation of the action plan by allocating five percent of the state’s annual budget over the next three years.

Governor Buni called on development partners involved in the programme not to relent in their efforts towards the success of the initiative.

The representative of Adamawa State Governor and Commissioner for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Reintegration and Human Service, Hon. Barr. Bello Hamman Diram announced the state government’s allocation of seven percent of its annual budget to the implementation of the Action Plans on Durable Solutions.

On his part, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Richard Montgomery, commended the progress witnessed during his recent visit to the North-East and the Government’s approach to encouraging more development investments.

“The progress I witnessed during my visit to the North-East recently deserves commendation.

“Nigeria is the first to prove that government-led intervention is possible. We are proud to be part of the process,” he stated.

He also called for the mobilisation of new financing, saying, “We need to mobilise additional bilateral and multilateral financing to support these plans.

“We should also think carefully about how to mobilize Nigeria’s vibrant private sector, not necessarily as a donor but as the engine for economic growth and job creation,” Montgomery added.

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Dangote refinery gets NMDPRA’s approval to refine PMS

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…To begin export of 10ppm diesel in June

Nigeria’s 650,000 barrels per day Dangote refinery will start exporting diesel conforming to European specifications along with gasoline (petrol) sales in June.

The Vice President for Oil and Gas, Devakumar Edwin, said over the weekend, “We expect before the end of next month we’ll also have gasoline in the market, and we’ll also have Euro V diesel for export, that is below 10ppm,” at a Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) event in Lagos.

Dangote Chief Executive, Aliko Dangote reiterated the planned June start for petrol on May 17. Dangote Refinery started its crude distillation unit in January, and received approval to start up a mild hydrocracker with its desulphurisation units in March.

A source at Nigeria’s downstream regulator, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) said the refinery has now received approval to start its residual fluid catalytic cracker. This implies that the facility can begin the refining of petrol.

Dangote started naphtha exports in March, low-sulphur straight-run fuel oil (LSSR) exports in May and began selling diesel and jet fuel domestically in April.

It has a waiver from NMDPRA to sell diesel with sulphur levels above 600ppm into the local market. At full capacity Dangote will be able to more than meet Nigerian domestic gasoline demand.

But a trader in the region said gasoline production is unlikely to start next month, citing the amount of cargo to be delivered to the country.

Exports of naphtha, a key blending component in finished-grade gasoline, are continuing from the refinery, with 80,000t due to load on May 31, according to Kpler.

Edwin, who hinted at a slowing of spot sales, said, “We had a meeting to see, probably, how we can slow down our sales because we have already made quite a few forward bookings.”

“Export, for example, aviation/jet, the last vessel went to the Caribbean islands. The next vessel we are booking for the US market,” he added.

Dangote recently added TotalEnergies as a buyer in a deal that could see the French company take refined products for its African network of 4,800 retail fuel stations, including more than 540 in Nigeria.

The deal could also see the oil major supply crude to the refinery. A source told Argus there is a deal for TotalEnergies to supply two crude cargoes each month, or around 2 million barrels.

Indications based on the refinery’s slate to date and TotalEnergies’ Nigerian crude equity suggest one cargo of the very light Amenam blend one of Bonny Light, the report added.

Meanwhile, in a drive towards its goal of boosting Nigeria’s oil production, the Chief Executive of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Gbenga Komolafe received a delegation from Schlumberger, led by its global President, Mr. Olivier Le Peuch, at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.

The high-level meeting between the NUPRC chief and officials of Schlumberger, the commission said, underscored its commitment to fostering strategic partnerships that would enhance Nigeria’s oil production and operational efficiency.

The purpose of the visit, a statement from the oil sector regulator stressed, was to explore specific areas of collaboration and partnership between both organisations.

Komolafe engaged the company  in an extensive discussion aimed at cultivating a long-term partnership that aligns with the commission’s goals and regulatory framework.

During the meeting, Komolafe emphasised that the NUPRC adopt a participatory and collaborative approach to facilitate ease of doing business in the oil sector.

He highlighted several of the commission’s achievements since its inception in 2021 under the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).

Key achievements, he said include the establishment of 17 regulations aimed at improving industry standards and operational efficiency.

Additionally, he said the re-engineering of the Nigeria National Data Repository (NDR) has been a significant milestone, promoting the monetisation of oil blocks and aligning regulations with global energy transition initiatives and carbon footprint reduction goals.

The NUPRC chief executive also mentioned the ongoing licensing rounds as a testament to the commission’s proactive approach in regulating the sector.

One notable achievement, he noted, was the NUPRC’s commitment to eliminating gas flaring and commercialising flared gas under the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme (NGCP).

The initiative, he pointed out, has designated 49 flare sites for commercialisation, demonstrating the commission’s dedication to environmental sustainability and resource optimisation.

Speaking on behalf of SLB Global, Mr. Olivier Le Peuch expressed satisfaction with the commission’s regulatory framework and indicated SLB Global’s readiness to collaborate.

 He reiterated the importance of such partnerships in unlocking Nigeria’s onshore and offshore oil potential, particularly through leveraging advanced technology.

Areas of mutual interest discussed included the development of Nigeria’s frontier basins and the integration of innovative technologies to enhance exploration and production efficiencies.

“At the end of the meeting, it was agreed that a contact team would be established to further investigate and identify more opportunities for collaboration.

“The team will focus on expanding the scope of mutual interests and ensuring that both organisations can effectively work together to achieve their shared objectives,” the statement added.

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60% profit was allocated to Ethiopian airlines for Nigeria Air — Keyamo

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The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo has described the controversial Nigeria Air unveiled by the Buhari-led administration as a fraud.

He said the project remains suspended.

He said that the ‘national carrier’ that was supposed to be an indigenous project and one that was supposed to bring hope for Nigerians, was flawed with a lot of secrecy and fraudulent activities.

Keyamo made the declaration on Nigeria Air while fielding questions from journalists during the second day of the Ministerial Sectorial update on Monday, May 27, in Abuja.

He said, “It was never Air Nigeria. It was Ethiopian trying to flag our flag and not Air Nigeria. That is the truth; it was not Nigeria.

“It only printed Air Nigeria. It was an Ethiopian airline trying to fly our flag. If it is so, why not allow our local people to fly our flag? Why bring a foreigner to fly our flag?

“So nobody should deceive you that it is Air Nigeria. Air Nigeria must be indigenous, wholly Nigeria or must be for the full benefit of Nigerians. Not that 60 percent of the profit is given to another country.

“How does that benefit us? It remains suspended. It remains so,” he said.

Speaking further on some of the steps taken so far to boost economic development in the aviation sector, Keyamo highlighted the commencement of cargo flights. He noted that it will enable Nigeria to tap into the $6 trillion global cargo market.

“We have agreed that we’re going to resume cargo flights between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.

“This has been suspended for a long time but now cargo flights are back. Guess what? Air cargo trade accounts for 35 percent of the world trade deficit.”

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