Lekki FTZ targets 500 million consumers in West Africa

Lekki Free Trade Zone (LFTZ) has said it’s targeting over 500 million consumers in West Africa as the primary consumers of its products and services. This is even as the Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga, says the zone needs infrastructures to succeed.

The Deputy Managing Director of Lekki Free Trade Zone Development Company, Mr. Adeyemo Thompson, said that the zone aims to provide the largest consumer market in Africa with over 500 million potential consumers in both Nigeria and the neighbouring countries.

Of this figure, Nigeria would account for 150 million consumers while the rest countries in the region are expected to acount for 350 million consumers.

“The zone provides a favourable geological location from where to export products to the rest of Africa, the Middle East, Europe and America,” Thompson said.

However, the Minister who spoke during the LFTZ Investment Forum and this year’s edition of  Eko Expo held at the Zone, challenges Lagos State government and the consortium of Chinese investors to connect a direct gas pipe line into the zone for the generation of power, noting that this was a major requirement for the sustainability of the zone.

He commended the management for having attracted a total of $1.1 billion (N170.5 billion) investment commitment from 48 investors into the zone; the technology it had brought and the jobs that had been created till- dates.

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Sustaining cash-less economy through identity data management

WITH the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) cash-less economy initiative gradually getting rooted in Lagos and hope of nationwide extension becoming visible, though in phases from January 1, 2013, concerns about sustenance of the project stirs it in the face.

Indeed, in the last eight months, there has been a significant shift in the way businesses are conducted in many parts of Lagos. The use of cash as an exchange for goods and services is gradually being replaced with the Internet to accommodate a host of online services, just like it is being done in the advanced economies.

As buyers and sellers increasingly transact business miles away from each other, there has been an increased demand by both parties for alternate means of payment. The recent modes of payment include point of sales (PoS), electronic payments; mobile payment, debit card, credit card, automated teller machine (ATMs) among others.

Transactions today are carried out on electronic networks, which instantly debit the account of the payer and credit the payee. A CBN official put daily transactions on the Point of Sales (PoS) terminals in Lagos as at June 2012 at over N200 million, while transactions on the Nigeria Instant Payment by the Nigeria Inter Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) was put at N40 billion daily.

The concept of cash-less society has been implemented in many countries especially in the developed economies where the citizens are inclined to the use of technology. Like the CBN has reiterated, one major advantage in Nigeria, aside ensuring globalisation, was the issue of cost reduction, especially in governances.

The CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi believes that its implementation and sustenance will put Nigeria on the path of progress, drive financial inclusion and reduce the pang of corruption on the country.

Be that as it may, the issue of sustenance, transactions identity management/insecurity; tools management, right strategies were among the issues, which took the centre stage at the 24th National Conference of the Nigeria Computer Society in Uyo, Akwa Ibom, with the theme: “Towards a Cash-less Nigeria: Tools and Strategies.”

Before now, analysts had raised several issues about the legitimacy of transactions done online, stressing that identity theft or scams have become the order of the day, even in the so called developed nations, further exacerbating fear of security breaches.

While not exonerating Nigeria from this potential threat, the Director General of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Mr. Chris Onyemenam, who spoke at the NCS conference, advocated the need for a reliable identity database and its adoption in the financial services sector to reduce fraud and ensure transparency of transactions.

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Nigeria set to join global audit regulators body

Determined to ensure Nigerian accountants and auditors are not excluded from taking part in international practice, the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC) has initiated processes for the country’s membership of the International Forum of Independent Audit Regulators (IFIAR).

This was disclosed by the Executive Secretary of the FRC, Mr Jim Obazee, while welcoming the management of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) led by the President of the Institute, Mr Adedoyin Idowu Owolabi, to the corporate head office of the Council in Lagos.

Obazee also disclosed that the FRC is currently seeking support of the United Kingdom FRC for Nigeria to be approved as meeting the requirements of the EU statutory Audit Directive which will allow Nigerian auditors, accountants and firms to practise in European Union countries without being compelled to register again with the EU regulators or being subjected to their oversight.

He therefore implored the Institute and its members to brace for the challenges of the reviews and requirements that will be necessary.

Obazee also recalled some of the measures that the body which is a parastatal of the Federal Government supervised by the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment has already taken since it came into being via the FRC Act no 6 of 2011.

Significant public interests
This include initiating the process of issuance of a country code of corporate governance for private and public sectors, facilitation of the first phase of the adoption of the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), review of financial statements of listed and significant public interest entities as well as putting in motion machinery for quality control of professional accounting firms.

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High cost of business remains an issue in Nigeria’s Maritime Industry

The sector performed averagely well in the last six months, based on the laudable efforts of the Federal Government and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), in dredging the Lagos channel to about 14-metre draught that allows the ports to accommodate bigger vessels.

But the N1 trillion bench mark given to the Nigerian Customs Service (NSC), the multiple levies by the agencies at ports and the fuel price increase announced in early January by the Federal Government, have contributed significantly to the high cost of doing business at the ports as truck drivers and terminal operators rely on diesel and petrol to power their vehicles and equipment.

Charges, such as service, bank, concessionaires’ services, tally clerk, commission on turnover, port administrative charges among others, are too numerous for importers and  they impeded business in the last six months.

Survey and dredging: In most of the terminals at the Lagos ports, NPA is maintaining appropriate navigable drafts. The problem of drafts for bigger vessels carrying over 4, 500 is no longer a challenge.

Dredging is carried out by  the Lagos Channel Management Limited for the NPA.

NPA is assisting the terminal operators to maintain designed drafts by assessing dredging requirements.

Also, the challenge of pilotage has been reduced to the barest minimum. Pilotage services are  promptly provided. Although the minimum time for providing pilotage varies from terminal to terminal, the unnecessary delay has been removed by the NPA..

Lack of commercial regulator: Operators in the industry are not happy over the refusal of the Federal Government to appoint a commercial regulator for the industry. But  they expressed happiness with the performance of the  the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in the period under review.

There is need for the Federal Government to create commercial regulators that would curb arbitrary charges and see to the rapid growth of the industry.

There is need for collaboration between security agencies at the port as their activities fell below expectation in the last six months. Operators have called for co-operation to boost  trade

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Carmakers’ dilemma: too many plants, too few buyers

Peugeot’s 8,000 job cuts and closure of a plant near Paris comes as cash strapped Europeans buy fewer new cars and the region’s manufacturers ponder what to do about their surplus of factories with too much capacity.In addition, unemployment is highest among young people – under 25-year-olds – which means a lost generation of drivers.

In France deliveries of cars and light vans fell by 0.9 percent in June after a 17 percent plunge in May.

In the first half of the year Peugeot Citroen was hit hard with a 13 percent slump in deliveries.Fellow French carmaker Renault’s sales slipped by 3.3 percent, while Germany’s Volkswagen increased its market share in France and overall sales rose 10.2 percent.

Analyst Brenda Kelly with CMC Markets blamed austerity: “You’re seeing the effect (of austerity measures) on the private sector at the moment, and of course, as the demand for these goods (cars) goes down, so there will be an effect on the employment levels. So you would expect to see unemployment in France rise somewhat over the next quarter or so.”

Around Europe carmakers say they need help from governments to reduce their overcapacity.

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Nigerian Govt needs N7 trillion to complete 6,294 projects

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Finance Minister of Niger...

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Finance Minister of Nigeria, 2003-2006; Managing Director of the World Bank, December 2007-present of May 2010), at the 2004 Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WITH over 6,294 ongoing projects by 30 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the country would need about N7 trillion to complete its developmental schemes, the Budget Office has revealed.

The Federal Government yesterday said efforts to streamline the multiplicity of MDAs were on-going as the names of the review board members would be released within the next 10 days, noting that no new project would be accommodated in the 2013 budget.

Besides, the Co-ordinating Minister of Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, disclosed at a consultative meeting with the organised private sector and civil society organisations on the Federal Government 2013 budget tagged “Charting the way forward for inclusive growth”, in Lagos yesterday that with the rising debt profile of the nation, amidst the Euro zone crisis, it may be difficult for the nation to get foreign aid if it slipped into another debt crisis.

She added that though the nation’s debt profile was sustainable when aggregated against the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) level, it might become unsustainable if the domestic debt was not monitored and reduced, noting that there was need to increase the foreign reserves to $50 billion and shore up the excess crude account from the existing $5.8 billion to $10 billion in order to be effectively shielded from another debt crisis.

The Director-General, Budget Office, Dr. Bright Okogu, noted that with over N404 billion already released for capital expenditure as at the end of the second quarter, with about 31 per cent implementation rate, some MDAs with large debts may not receive new allocations in the 2013 budget.

According to her, although efforts are being made to ensure that the sinking fund is effectively managed, with the nation’s domestic debt profile standing at N5.9 trillion, it has become expedient for the nation to slow down domestic borrowing and diversify its earnings as current interest rates continue to widen the debt net.

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Lagos spends over N236bn on roads project in five years

Lagos State government has spent over N236 billion on road development in the last five years, the state Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Dr. Obefemi Hamzat, has said.

He disclosed this at the 2012 annual distinguished lecture of the Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineers, at the weekend.

In his presentation, “Roads and bridges as Infrastructure: Economic Impact in Lagos Stat,e” Hamzat said that the government had budgeted over N287 billion for road infrastructure between 2008 and 2012 and had expended N236 billion.

According to him, the government has awarded 157 roads as at today out of the N73.6 billion budgeted for this year with N44.6 billion accounting for 55 per cent of the budget already spent.

In his analysis, the government spent N48.3 billion in 2008, N44.4 billion in 2009, N41.7 billion in 2010, N58.3 billion in 2011 and N44.6 billion in 2012.

He explained that as part of the government’s commitment, it invested on yearly basis substantial resources to the development of its road infrastructure.

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