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Nigerians to start paying more for electricity from February 1, says NERC



…Chinese Stock Market Tanks, Trading Halted

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), on Wednesday, said that the take-off date of the new electricity tariff remains February 1.

It also directed all distribution companies to ensure that new customers are provided with meters before they are connected to power source.

In a statement issued in Abuja by the Head of Public Affairs, Dr. Usman Abba-Arabi, the commission stated that the date of the take-off of the new tariff had not changed.

According to the statement, the new acting Head of the commission, Dr. Anthony Akah, said that the removal of fixed charge under the new tariff regime “was in response to electricity consumers’ complaints and a measure to ensure electricity distribution companies improve on service delivery as their income is dependent on the quantity of electricity used by their customers.”

Akah maintained that the commission would continue to engage stakeholders including members of the National Assembly (NASS) to address their concerns on the new tariff regime.

“NERC holds National Assembly in high esteem and we are sure that both institutions are working to ensure that the national and consumer interests are protected,” he said.

In his explanations, he said there are inbuilt consumer protection mechanisms and incentives for improved service delivery by the DISCOs and fair return on investment in the new tariff order.

In the meantime, Asian stocks fell to a three-month low on Thursday after China opted to keep guiding the yuan sharply lower, deepening concerns about the economy and the potential for competitive devaluations by other countries.

Shanghai shares tanked more than 7 percent and trading was halted as the fall triggered a circuit breaker, despite recent supportive measures announced by Chinese authorities.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dropped 1.4 percent, hitting its lowest level since late September.

Japan’s Nikkei shed 1.5 percent. Australian shares lost 1.5 percent and South Korea’s KOSPI fell 0.7 percent.

Fears for the health of the Chinese economy, reflected recently in a sharply lower yuan, have become a key topic worrying investors so far in 2016.

Shares in Asia extended losses after the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) set the yuan midpoint rate at 6.5646 per dollar prior to the onshore market open, 0.50 percent weaker than the previous fix 6.5314. It was the biggest fall between daily fixings since August and the eighth day in row for the PBOC to set a lower guidance rate.

Offshore yuan fell to a fresh record low since trading started in 2010 before trimming a chunk of its losses on suspected intervention, but this did little to soothe sentiment.

Financial markets fear the yuan’s rapid depreciation may accelerate, which would mean China’s economy is even weaker than had been imagined, and could therefore spark another wave of competitive devaluations around Asia and in other key economies.

“The Chinese yuan is smack bang at the heart of concerns and much has been made of the comments in the China Securities Journal that the weakness in the CNY is not actually causing instability,” wrote Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG in Melbourne.

“This is key, and traders feel this portrays more CNY weakness to come and therefore additional strain on the global economy, not to mention corporate China.”

Wall Street shares closed at three-month lows overnight amid the general risk aversion, amplified by a continuing decline in crude oil prices and geopolitical concerns following North Korea’s nuclear test on Wednesday.

U.S. Treasuries gained from a consequent flight to quality. The benchmark 10-year note yield sank 9 basis points to its lowest since mid-December.

The yen, another beneficiary in times of perceived global turmoil, also attracted bids. The dollar fell to a four-month low of 117.66 yen.

The greenback was also weighed down after the Federal Reserve’s December policy meeting minutes suggested further U.S. rate increases would be gradual because of concerns about persistently low inflation.

The euro was up 0.2 percent at $1.0804 with the dollar on the back foot.

The Australian dollar, often used as a proxy for China-related trades, fell to a two-month low of $0.7025 .

In commodities, Brent crude fell to an 11-year low of $33.41 a barrel after data showed a surprisingly big build-up of U.S. gasoline stocks, adding to fears of a growing global glut.

The crude oil market has so far shrugged off rising geopolitical risks such as the tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and North Korea’s nuclear test.

Tribune with additional report from NBC


WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners



…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live



The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured



…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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