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Nigerian Steel Manufacturer saves Economy N236bn



Ajaokuta steel coy can employ 10,000 workers – Society
...As Zimbabwean minister says Africa needs to diversify exports, improve infrastructure***

African Industries Group, Nigeria’s major private sector steel manufacturer, yesterday, said that it saves the country $650 million (about N236 billion) through import-substitution, by exporting finished steel from its plants to other African countries.

The group also lamented the high cost of sea freight of steel products to other countries within the continent, calling on the port authorities and other relevant agencies to ease the bottleneck associated with exporting cargoes through the ports and reduce the various charges to acceptable level to make Nigerian goods competitive in the global market.

Group Managing Director, African Industries Group, Alok Gupta, revealed this in a presentation on ´Taking Nigerian Steel to the Global Map´ to government officials, banks, among other stakeholders in Lagos. He said his company has invested more than $1.1 billion in Nigeria with plans to invest more in upcoming projects.

He said: “All these efforts have resulted in huge saving of $650 million in foreign exchange to the country. We have been exporting between 150,000 – 200,000 metric tons of steel on annual basis to Ghana, Ivory Coast, Egypt and Morocco. However, our steel products had to compete with big producers from Ukraine, Russia, China and other developed countries.

“Our export of steel during the first nine months of this year has increased over three fold by weight and value compared to the whole of 2016. To put numbers on it – in 2017 for the first three quarters, our steel exports are almost $13.5 million compared to $4.1 million in 2016 and we are expecting an additional $12 million of steel exports in the final quarter of the year.

Overall, we expect over $25 million in the current year 2017. We are proud to achieve this milestone due to combined effort of our team and enabling environment created by domestic industrial policies.” On export challenges, Gupta stated: “There are many challenges both on logistics and fiscal policy issues.

Sea freight between Lagos and other West African countries is almost double of what it costs to bring the steel product from Ukraine or China. For example, sea freight from Ukraine to Ghana is $35-40 per metric tons while from Lagos to Ghana costs $65 per metric tons which is almost 50 percent more.

“We appeal to shipping companies operating in Nigeria to remove this abnormality and make a level playing field for us, if we really want Nigeria to emerge as global player in steel sector. We need our colleague, partner and workforce among port authorities and customs to ease the bottleneck associated with smooth flow of export cargoes through port, reduce the various charges to acceptable level so as to make Nigerian goods compatible in global market.”

Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr. Kayode Fayemi, lauded the company’s stride, saying that the federal government’s policy on privatization of the steel sector is working.

Fayemi who was represented by Mr. Ime Ekrikpo, Director, Steel and Non- Ferrous Metals, assured operators in the sector of right policy support and incentives aimed at taking the industry higher. “Our key target in the mining industry is the steel and we will give them all the necessary support to begin to produce from iron ore,” he said. Also Speaking, President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Frank Jacob, applauded the company’s export feat.

“In spite of harsh operating environment, they are able to produce, export and earn foreign exchange for the country,” he said.

In the meantime, Africa needs to diversify its exports through value addition to reduce vulnerability to commodity price shocks, Zimbabwean Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo said Thursday.

Chombo made the call while declaring open the 23rd Session of the Inter-Governmental Committee of Experts of Southern Africa in Bulawayo.

He said the continent should also boost intra-Africa trade by addressing structural bottlenecks including infrastructure and border formalities.

“Although growth in the emerging markets of China, India, Brazil and Russia continues to drive commodities demand and hence anchor the growth impetus for our commodity-dependent economies, we need to diversify our sources of growth for sustainability,” he said.

The meeting is running under the theme: “Trade Facilitation in Southern Africa: Bridging the Infrastructure Gap”.

The minister said high levels of indebtedness by African countries, slow growth in Western economies, low commodity prices and low resource inflows to the continent will continue to undermine growth in Africa in 2017 and beyond.

Chombo emphasised the importance for Africa to invest in infrastructure development, noting that the availability of infrastructure lowers costs, creates jobs, and supports growth and socio-economic development.

“Yet our region suffers from a critical infrastructure deficiency particularly regarding access to electricity, transport, information and communication technology, water and sanitation and irrigation,” the minister said.

“Rail infrastructure is generally poor and continues to deteriorate, air transport services are expensive and inefficient, and access to ICT, though improving, remains poor,” he said.

“The gap is real and needs to be addressed for industrialisation and socio-economic development,” the minister said.

Additional report from Vanguard


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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