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Banks reject Etisalat’s $58.9m payment plan



  • As YouWin Programme is set to mobilise N2.5b equity annually

Twelve commercial banks have rejected a $58.9 million offer by Etisalat Nigeria as full and final payment for the $588.6 million the telecom giant owes, The Nation learnt yesterday.

The loan comprises N114 billion ($361.6 million) in local currency and $227 million in foreign currency, putting the total obligation to the banks at $588.6 million. The source said Etisalat Nigeria also has some unsettled obligations to its other business partners.

A senior manager in one of the banks told The Nation that the lender rejected the offer because it was not a fair deal, which will hurt the interest of shareholders, deplete their capital base and derail the stability in the banking sector.

The source said Etisalat Nigeria came up with the repayment plan after an emergency meeting held between the lenders and the telecom giant last month in London.

After the meeting, Etisalat Nigeria came up with the loan liquidation plan, which the banks rejected.

The banks had decided to cut the interest charged on the loan by six per cent below market rate, agreed to absorb 20 to 30 per cent of the debt burden and allow the firm to pay-down the loan within eight years.

The source, who pleaded not to be named because he is not permitted to talk on the matter, explained that the banks remained entrepreneurs and custodians of depositors’ funds, which they must protect.

The source said: “It is a challenging time for the banks. A lot of Nigerians depend on us as depositors. We have shareholders who have invested in the banks and want dividends. Etisalat has the capacity to repay the loans. Etisalat flew their private jet to Nigeria from United Arab Emirates and obtained its operating licence without borrowing from any bank.  They are heavy guys, and can pay their debt.”

“The firm has a strong parent company who is one of the best investors in the world.”

The source said that these credentials convinced the lenders to lend to Etisalat Nigeria. “Even though we cannot see all the benefits, but the telecom sector contributes about eight per cent to the national Gross Domestic Product, and the banks saw the need to support the company.

“The country cannot have the Smart City being canvassed without the telecom sector. We gave out the loans to support the economy,” the source said.

According to the source, the loan to the company was restructured, with the borrower given additional time to ensure it liquidates the loan, but while the final document for the loan restructuring was being reviewed by the Legal Council, the company asked for a ‘Stand Still’.

The source said the banks were not questioning the capacity of Etisalat Nigeria to liquidate the loan, but what is lacking is the company’s willingness to pay back the loan.

The source said the banks had not taken over the company, because they do not own shares in the company, the directors are not changed and the lenders do not have expertise in running telcos.

Etisalat Nigeria yesterday denied reports that it was being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), following a petition to “the Federal Government asking that Etisalat be investigated” on how the funds from the syndicated loans were utilized.

In the meantime, the recently relaunched YouWin! Connect Programme is set to mobilise up to N2.5bn annually as an equity investment in start-ups and early stage SMEs through qualified fund managers under a co-investment model.

According to a statement issued yesterday by the Director, Information Federal Ministry of Finance , Salisu Na’inna Dambatta ,the Federal Government has a renewed focus on key economic sectors in line with the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, with an emphasis on SME-led growth in agriculture, energy, technology, manufacturing, industry and key services.

The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun said that”The revival of these sectors, coupled with increased investment in other sectors, less reliance on foreign exchange for intermediate goods, raw materials and greater export orientation, will improve macroeconomic conditions, restore growth in the short term, and help to create jobs”.

Continuing, the statement said that, this is in line with the belief of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), are engines of growth to stimulate and sustain economic recovery, thereby making the strengthening of small-scale businesses & the promotion of industrialisation, priorities for economic recovery.

The component of the relaunched initiative demonstrates Government’s commitment to empowering start-ups and early stage SMEs, providing innovative solutions to local challenges in Nigeria.

According to the statement, fund managers would be expected to demonstrate a strong track record in investing in and advising early stage SMEs, with a knowledge of diverse sectors and a clearly defined investment strategy.This is to ensure that fund managers can actively and positively, contribute to improving business performance by bringing onboard their experiences and having skin in the game, by providing some of the required capital.

YouWin! Connect is an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Finance which aims to support young entrepreneurs as they Plan, Start and Grow their businesses.

The initiative seeks to promote entrepreneurship as a viable career option for young Nigerians this demonstrates Government’s commitment to empowering start-ups and early stage SMEs, providing innovative solutions to local challenges in Nigeria.

The Federal Government of Nigeria intends that additional impact of this scheme will include social inclusion, job creation, youth empowerment and improved human capital.



Troops Destroy 51 Illegal Refining Sites, Recover Stolen Crude Oil – DHQ



….Destroy 7 dugout pits, 25 boats, 47 storage tanks, five vehicles, one outboard engine, others

The Defence Headquarters says  troops of Operation Delta Safe have  destroyed 51 illegal oil refining sites and recovered stolen crude oil and refined products in the Niger Delta in the last one week.

The Director of Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. Edward Buba, disclosed  in a statement on Friday in Abuja.

Buba said the troops also apprehended 58 perpetrators of oil theft and denied them of  estimated sum of N668.7 million

He said the troops destroyed seven dugout pits, 25 boats, 47 storage tanks, five vehicles, 141 cooking ovens, one pumping machine, one outboard engine, one tricycle, one speedboat and one tugboat.

According to him, troops recovered 267,700 litres of stolen crude oil, 567,700 litres of illegally refined AGO and 5,000 litres of DPK.

“Troops has maintained momentum against oil theft and arrested persons involved in oil theft in Bonny and Ikpoba Local Government Areas of Rivers and Edo States respectively.

“Troops also arrested suspected armed robbers and foiled illegal bunkering activities in Oshimili South and Ukwa West of Delta and Abia States respectively,” he said.

In the South East, Buba said  troops of Operation UDO KA arrested 15 suspected criminals and repelled attacks by IPOB/ESN criminals in Anambra, Abia and Imo States.

He said the troops conducted raids and rescued kidnapped hostages in Ishielu and Igbo Eze North Local Government Areas of Ebonyi and Enugu States respectively.

He said the troops neutralised three criminals, rescued five kidnapped hostages and recovered 14 rounds of 7.62mm NATO ammo.

In the South West, Buba said  troops of Operation AWATSE foiled armed robbery attacks in Orelope and Olorunsogo Local Government Areas of Oyo State and arrested a gunrunner in Obafemi Owode Local Government Area of Ogun.

According to him, troops rescued 15 kidnapped hostages and recovered two vehicles.

“All recovered items, arrested suspects and rescued hostages were handed over to the relevant authority for further action,” he added.

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NEPZA Boss Says Nation’s Free Trade Zones Not Really `Free’



The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) says the country’s Free Trade Zones are business anchorages that have for decades been used to generate revenues for the Federal Government.

Dr Olufemi Ogunyemi, the Managing Director of NEPZA, said this in a statement by the authority’s
Head of Corporate Communications, Martins Odeh, on Monday in Abuja, stressing that the the widely held notion that the scheme is a `free meal ticket’ for investors and not a means for the government to generate revenue is incorrect.

Ogunyemi said this public statement was essential to clarify the misunderstanding by various individuals and entities, in and out of government, on the nature of the scheme.

He reiterated the authority’s commitment to enhancing public knowledge of the principal reason for the country’s adoption of the scheme by the NEPZA Act 63 of 1992.

“The Free Trade Zones are not hot spots for revenue generation. Instead, they exist to support socioeconomic development.

“These include but are not limited to industrialisation, infrastructure development, employment generation, skills acquisition, foreign exchange earnings, and Foreign Direct Investments(FDI) inflows,” Ogunyemi said.

The managing director said the NEPZA Act provided exemption from all federal, state, and local government taxes, rates, levies, and charges for FZE, of which duty and VAT were part.

“However, goods and services exported into Nigeria attract duty, which includes VAT and other charges.

“In addition, NEPZA collects over 20 types of revenues, ranging from 500,000 dollars-Declaration fees, 60,000 dollars for Operation License (OPL) Renewal Fees between three and five years.

“There is also the 100-300 dollar Examination and Documentation fees per transaction, which occurs daily.

“There are other periodic revenues derived from vehicle registration and visas, among others.

“The operations within the free trade zones are not free in the context of the word,” he said.

Ogunyemi said the global business space had contracted significantly, adding that to win a sizable space would require the ingenuity of the government to either expand or maintain the promised incentives.

“These incentives will encourage more multinational corporations and local investors to leverage on the scheme, which has a cumulative investment valued at 30 billion dollars.

“The scheme has caused an influx of FDIs; it has also brought advanced technologies, managerial expertise, and access to global markets.

“For instance, the 52 FTZs with 612 enterprises have and will continue to facilitate the creation of numerous direct and indirect jobs, currently estimated to be within the region of 170,000,” he said.

Ogunyemi said an adjustment in title and introduction of current global business practices would significantly advance the scheme, increasing forward and backward linkages.

“This is with a more significant market offered by the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA).

“We have commenced negotiations across the board to ensure that the NEPZA Act is amended to give room for adjusting the scheme’s title from `Free Trade Zones to Special Economic Zones respectively.

“This will open up the system for the benefit of all citizens,” he said.

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2023 CLPA: Policy Cohesion Imperative For Implementation Of AfCFTA Agreements, Others



Some policy experts and stakeholders have called for policy cohesion across Africa for the successful implementation of multilateral policy decisions.

They spoke on Wednesday during one of the plenaries at the 2023 Conference on Land Policy in Africa (CLPA), held in Addis Ababa.

The CLPA, the fifth in the series, is organised by the tripartite consortium consisting of the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

The 2023 edition has the theme, ‘Year of AfCFTA: Acceleration of the African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation’.

Dr Medhat El-Helepi (ECA), chaired the plenary with the sub-theme: ‘Land Governance, Regional Integration, and Intra-Africa Trade: Opportunities and Challenges’.

Panelists at the plenary included Dr Stephen Karingi, Director, Regional Integration and Trade, ECA; Mr Tsotetsi Makong, Head of Capacity Building and Technical Assistance, AfCFTA Secretariat.

Others were Mr Kebur Ghenna, CEO, of the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI) and Ms Eileen Wakesho, Director of Community Land Protection at Namati, Kenya.

The event also attracted various stakeholders, including traditional leaders, Civil Society Organisations, and policy decision-makers.

Makong expressed worries over the reluctance of some participants to openly discuss some matters, pleading ‘no go areas of domestic affairs’.

He, however, noted that the issues of land were within the limit of domestic regulations, adding that tenure land security was the solution that would allow intra-African investment that is still low in Africa.

Makong pointed out that the success of the investment protocol under the AfCFTA would depend on countries’ domestic laws that should be in line with the AfCFTA.

“There are guidelines on land reforms that need to be turned into regulations within the domestic systems.

“Policy coherence has to be at the heart of what we do. This can be achieved by engaging everyone including women and youth at the grassroots level.

“Also, you cannot be talking of AfCFTA as of it is just about Ministers of Trade, Economy or Investment. The idea is a totality of the entire governance structure. This is very important,” he said.

Speakers also noted that inclusive land governance was one of the key pillars to enhance Africa’s drive to improve intra-African trade, food security, and sustainable food systems.

They said an inclusive governance system would allow stakeholders to create transparency, subsidiarity, inclusiveness, prior informed participation, and social acceptance by affected communities in land-based initiatives beyond their borders.

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