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Nigerian companies binging on debt face low growth risk

As a lot of Nigerian businesses tap the low-interest environment to ramp up borrowing to offset liquidity challenges fuelled by the effect of COVID-19, there’s a growing worry that the risk of low economic growth is going to constrain future revenues and increase the burden of debt servicing for firms.

In an economy hit by a double challenge of COVID-19 and collapsing oil price, slow economic activities, declining revenue, job losses and dampened purchasing power are expected to affect the bottom line of most companies and, even worse, make many handicapped to repay their debt.

Ayorinde Akinloye, a research analyst at CSL Stockbrokers, said the biggest risk for many companies would be the inability to generate adequate cash flow to pay back on maturity because of the slowdown in business.

“It is not about having funds, it’s about if there is demand. What use is producing when you cannot sell?” Akinloye asked.

Andrew S. Nevin, partner and chief economist at PwC, said “the economic impact of Covid–19 is just starting”.

“The reality is, we are now seeing the impact down the line in various industries,” Nevin said. “For us in Nigeria, it’s going to be hard to get our economy restored to normal without regretting the trade ties and investment from groups around the world, but that still looks a long way off.“

He said companies and government at all levels need to prepare for a long period of difficult economic times.

Due to the high liquidity challenges of most Nigerian companies amid the decline in business activities, about 27 firms issued commercial papers, bonds and rights issues in the first six months of 2020, as compiled from FMDQ data.

While Nigerian companies took advantage of the low-interest rate environment to raise capital, corporates most preferred the short–term commercial paper (CP) to bonds and rights issue due to the low cost of finance and the short maturity period, according to BusinessDay analysis.

Out of a total of N658.5 billion debt issued in the first half of 2020, commercial papers accounted for 70.86 percent as against the 23.95 percent raised through corporate bonds and 5.19 percent rights issue.

“It presents an opportunity for companies to raise cheap capital and those that have existing bonds raised some two or three years ago when rates were about 15-18 percent can call the bond,” said Yinka Ademuwagun, research analyst at United Capital.

While interest rates in Nigeria have always been high due to the monetary system in vogue since 2009 which sought to use FGN bonds/T-bills and OMO bills as means of attracting US dollars into the country to stabilise the naira, the recent OMO policy by the Central Bank (CBN) which prevents domestic investors from participating in the auction is the key driver of the low interest enjoyed today.

Yields on both T-bills and bonds instruments have hit a bottom record from a double interest rate enjoyed some four years ago, and according to industry analysts, the low yield environment is an opportunity ready to be tapped.

“The current state of the economy will affect the revenue stream of companies, and that is even the reason why they are raising funds because Covid-19 was a shock,” Ademuwagun said, projecting the Covid-19 shock to be short term.

According to ‘Covid-19: A Business Impact Series’, an advisory from KMPG business leaders, effective cash flow management is likely to be critical for many organisations during Covid-19 period as revenues fall and potentially, debtors delay payments or become insolvent.

In what could better describe the pains felt by the businesses due to the pandemic, consumer goods giant, Unilever, reported an underwhelming performance in the first half of the year, after its revenue plunged by more than 40 percent to N14 billion, compared to the N23.4 billion it reported the same period last year.

Across key product segments, revenue declined as both the food and home/personal care (HPC) businesses were down 28.5 percent and 43.3 percent, respectively, to N15.3bn and N12.1bn in H1 2020 from N21.4bn and N21.3bn, a pointer to how the pandemic has dealt a blow to the cash flows of businesses.

Similarly, revenues of Cadbury Nigeria declined by 18.2 percent to N15.9bn in the first half of 2020, from a high of N19.5bn the same period last year.

To at least tame the impact of the crisis on their businesses, many companies, particularly those in the fast-moving consumer goods space, have increased their books of trade receivables, giving stock of goods on credit to customers with the hope they would pay back at a later date after the goods are sold.

Irrespective, the move still doesn’t hold much water due to weak purchasing power of consumers whom the goods are meant to be sold to, thereby resulting in increasing firms’ books on goods returned inwards.

For Unilever, its impairment loss on trade receivables surged by more than 3,000 percent, from N17.4 million in June 2019 to N597.2 million.

More than 35,640 customers of Nigerian banks have restructured loans worth N7.8 trillion after the pandemic crippled business activities, Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor, said during the apex bank’s July Monetary Policy Committee meeting where members voted to leave benchmark interest rate and other key parameters unchanged.

Emiefele said that plans were underway to expand the forbearance levels for businesses, particularly those hard–hit by the impact of the virus, to as much as 65 percent.

This, however, might still not be enough to get the fundamentals of these businesses to their pre-pandemic levels, according to analysts who spoke to BusinessDay.

To a large extent, the success or failure of businesses mirrors macroeconomic realities of a country. When businesses thrive, there appears to be economic prosperity in a country, and vice versa.

For Africa’s largest economy which for a larger part of the last five years has suffered stunted economic growth at an average of 2 percent, the scenario appears not different.

Since 2017 when oil-dependent Nigeria emerged from its economic recession, not only has the country’s economic growth been sluggish but only a few sectors triggered the expansion, further undermining the country’s capacity to create enough jobs to meet the growing number of labour market entrants.

Africa’s top oil exporter which relies on crude sales for around 90 percent of foreign exchange earnings and more than half of government revenue is projected to post as much as 5 percent contraction in 2020.

Analysts recommend government intervention in key sectors of the economy and right policy implementation as some of the stimuli needed to bail Africa’s largest economy from posting its worst recession in decades.

But Nigeria’s planned fiscal and monetary policy stimulus targeted at addressing the economic challenges of Covid-19 are modest compared to its peers, according to the World Bank.

As a share of its 2018 GDP, Nigeria’s Covid-19 stimulus – whether as aid, grants, guarantees, CBN’s monetary liquidity injection, or interest rate – is less than that of Brazil, Angola, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, and Uganda, the Washington-based lender said in its recent Nigeria Development Update (NDU) report.

“Nigeria’s fiscal and monetary policy response has been modest by the standards of comparable countries, making it harder for the country to avoid recession,” the World Bank said in the report titled ‘Nigeria in Times of COVID-19: Laying Foundations for a Strong Recovery’.

The World Bank explained that the current challenges reflect long–standing shortfalls in human capital, infrastructure and public services, women’s economic inclusion, the business environment, access to finance, and governance.

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Here’s what a central bank digital currency holds for Nigeria

The Bank of Japan and Bank of England are the latest financial institutions to openly say they are considering creating a digital currency, sending ripples across the cryptocurrency market.

The price of bitcoin has jumped since Monday afternoon when the news broke from around $9,100 to $9,363 on Wednesday.

The interest from both central banks reflects what is becoming a growing trend in which the apex banks around the world are scrambling to learn the most cryptocurrencies and blockchain have to offer and also position themselves for future disruptions. China is believed to have taken the lead in the race to release a central bank digital currency.

Apart from Japan and the UK, Banque de France is also reportedly conducting a series of experiments on blockchain which results could potentially change the way money works. Although the bank said no cryptocurrency would be included, the experiments would include participants such as Accenture, settlement giant Euroclear, the HSBC bank, French firm, Iznes, ethereum platform LiquidShare, little-known startup, ProsperUS, crypto bank Seba, and Forge, Societe Generale’s digital capital markets spinoff.

Over the coming days, the Banque de France will begin conducting experiments with each of the candidates, according to the statement, with some of the projects expected to take as long as multiple months.

CBDCs are also expected to gain even more converts when the G7 countries meet later this year. A Japanese new outlet, Kyodo reports that the G7 meetings later this year will include discussions about central bank digital currency (CBDC) to share knowledge. It claims the Japanese government made the suggestion and the United States responded positively.

Countries in Africa are not left out in the CBDC race. At the 23rd National Banking Conference held in Accra, Ghana, the Central Bank of Ghana said it was in talks with key industry stakeholders to launch a pilot CBDC project. Ghana is not the only country on the continent making this move, the South African Reserve Bank also said last year it was in talks with partners for the possible introduction of a native cryptocurrency.

Unsurprisingly, Nigeria has held off having any direct relationship with cryptocurrency. The CBN has in the past warned the banking public to stay away from digital assets. Despite its warnings, Nigeria continues to make the top countries in the world carrying out peer-to-peer cryptocurrency transactions as well as occupying the top position in search of bitcoin across the world. Analysts have said that the country is losing more from its stance against the cryptocurrency market.

“I will argue that central bank digital currency is one of the most important trends for the future of money and payments over the next decade,” Cuy Sheffield, head of Crypto Projects, Visa said in a tweet. “Regardless of anyone’s views of whether it is good or bad, the reality is that global interest in it is not going away.”

What is CBDC?

The relationship between central banks and the cryptocurrency market in time has in the past been anything but cordial as the former had always seen the latter as an existential threat to fiat currencies. But that point of view is starting to change, thanks to the concept of a digital currency for central banks.

However, central bank digital currency (CBDC) is not a cryptocurrency, at least not in the true sense. CBDC is actually the digital form of fiat money. For instance, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) decides to create a digital form of the naira.

A Central Bank Digital Currency is backed by a government’s central bank, which means they hold the liability, not the commercial banks.

One major argument for a CBDC is that it would ensure that people have access to their legal tender if for any reason cash were not readily available.

Moreover, it aligns with the drive for a cashless economy which in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic has become widespread due to research that links cash handling to spread of the virus.

This, essentially, means the existence of two legal tenders, one residing online and the other physical. This could create a situation in which the overall seigniorage – profit made by a government by issuing currency – increases due to a larger quantity of money in circulation. On the other hand, both options being available can also lead to spike in costs to a central bank.

How it works

A CBDC unit is equivalent to a paper bill and can be used as a means of payment or a store of value and a unit of account. The same way a N100 naira note for instance has a unique serial number that identifies it, each CBDC unit will also be distinguishable to prevent imitation.

It would also work alongside other forms of regulated money such as cash, coins, and bonds but enjoy the same protective capabilities the blockchain provides.

Expectedly, it would be controlled solely by the central bank.

CBDC models

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts that two models of CBDC will be dominant in the future. The models are the synthetic CBDC or sCBDC and the two-tiered CBDC currently being explored by various central banks, including the People’s Bank of China (PBOC).

According to the IMF, while the two-tiered model seems more ideal for central banks, the sCBDC model opens the door to the private sector. In view of the sCBDC model, the central bank would privately issue digital coins, denominated in the domestic unit but fully backed with central bank reserves.

The central bank would then license operators and carefully supervise them. In addition, legal structures would ensure that user funds, held as central bank reserves, would be isolated from the potential bankruptcy of sCBDC operators.

“Whatever route we take, we are in for changes in technology and payments. This is certainly an opportunity for the public and private sectors to get to know each other better, and to explore more efficient and effective ways to collaborate — not just domestically, but also across borders,” Tobias Adrian, Financial Counsellor and Director of the Monetary and Capital Markets Department, IMF, said.

by Frank Eleanya 

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Most Nigerians will pay 0.78% stamp duty on rent, not 6% – Tax expert

Stamp duty on most rent agreements in Nigeria is at the rate of 0.78 percent and not 6 percent as being widely circulated, according to Taiwo Oyedele, head of tax at PwC.

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) on Wednesday said landlords and property agents should charge 6 percent stamp duty on all tenancy and lease agreements they enter into with all leases and remit same promptly to the Service.

However, Oyedele explained in a tweet that based on the Stamp Duties Act, stamp duty on lease or rent agreement is payable as follows:
If the lease term is less than seven years, stamp duty rate is 0.78 percent (e.g. N780 on N100,000 rent). For a term of 7+ to 21 years, stamp duty rate is 3 percent (meaning N3,000 for N100,000 rent). For a term above 21 years, stamp duty rate is 6 percent (e.g. N6,000 for N100,000 rent).

“Given that most people enter into rent agreements for less than seven years, the applicable stamp duty rate to most people will be 0.78 percent,” Oyedele said.

If you are an individual renting from another individual, he said, your stamp duty is payable to the state tax authority such as Lagos Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) if you are resident in Lagos. If either the tenant or the landlord is a company, then the duty is payable to FIRS.

The obligation to pay stamp duty on rent rests with the tenant. However, FIRS is seeking to appoint the landlord as the agent to collect and remit the tax, Oyedele said.

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Mobilizing the workforce, fast-tracking the future – businesses across Emerging Africa are taking on flexible working

The year 2020 has seen tremendous shifts and changes in the way we work. Technology and innovation are creating new opportunities as well as challenges. For more than a decade, we’ve built a culture around the idea that work is outcomes based, not anchored to a specific place or time. While every industry and business are different, a segment of employees have shifted to remote work and businesses have had to rethink their operating models and organisational structures. Flexible working has jumped from being a pipeline goal to being part of our daily grind in a matter of a few months. As we all head to the dining table or study for yet another day ‘in the office’, remote working technologies are being put to the test in a serious way – and all businesses are impacted.

Working from home is not new. The connected office has long been a critical enabler of the modern era’s distributed workforce, bringing productivity and experience boosters. In fact, in many countries in Emerging Africa, like Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania etc., ICT has played a big role in driving the economy forward through the rapid growth of IT investment. Remote working has been one of the partial solutions to address connectivity challenges, address the needs of millennial workers, as well as encouraging women to be part of the workforce while having flexible careers.

Today, the ability to work remotely is business critical and presents certain challenges for organisations of all sizes. But adapting to the new normal is a collaborative effort, calling for unity between the c-suite, IT departments and third-party technology experts.

The question is: are organizations ready to handle and prepare for a long-term stint of remote working across the entire workforce – and will they rise to evolving needs when it comes to keeping their business successful?

Empowering productivity: While challenging, this is also a massive opportunity for businesses to demonstrate their agility – and for those lacking agility, to prioritise it. There is no doubt that this seismic shift will test both security and infrastructure, but flexible working can boost productivity too. As the workforce settles into their home office, there are considerations that need to be made in terms of security – keeping applications safe in the data centre and protecting end-point data – supporting network traffic and enabling increased flexibility. While each business will experience these to varying degrees, every business should be carefully thinking through their value chain. It’s therefore critical for organisations to support their employees with the right connectivity and tools that are essential to drive productivity and collaboration.

Data must be protected from the end point to the data centre: By increasing the number of devices connected to the network, the challenge will be managing and processing the additional data. To completely overhaul existing current networks is unrealistic for most medium businesses, as this not only takes time but is a drain on resources. Instead, edge computing can help to process data while limiting the impact on the enterprise cloud by only sending selected data. A recent study from the consulting firm, Deloitte, showed an alarming rise in the number of cyber and ransomware attacks against individuals and organisations and is only increasing, now that the home workforce is connecting remotely to their organisations systems. For any business, cyber-attacks can be devastating as the ability to recover is curbed by a lack of resources.

Seamless, scalable remote working solutions: Thanks to software defined workspaces, employees can access the tools and apps they need on any device. This keeps the day-to-day business rolling, ensuring the playing field is levelled in terms of accessibility and updates. As businesses adjust to the all-in working from home demands, they may find that consumption and ‘as-a-service’ solutions on-premise will help – particularly with economics and the short turn-around they have been faced with. For example, “Virtual Desktop Infrastructure” (VDI) provides secure, high-performance access for critical users while the “Hybrid Cloud” can scale data center resources.

In conclusion, every organisation needs to adapt to the changing expectations of the workforce in order to thrive, and ten years out, businesses that successfully achieve digital workplace transformations will be at an advantage over businesses struggling with legacy systems, massive amounts of data and workforces unprepared for change. Ultimately, by empowering remote workforces, organisations can unlock creativity, productivity, increase job satisfaction and most importantly learn to collaborate in new and improved ways – bringing to fruition the next wave of human led, technology-underpinned progress.

by Habib Mahakian 

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When policies conflict with reality

The saying, ‘desperate times call for desperate measures’ isn’t new to most people, including Nigerian policymakers. But a situation where the Nigeria monetary authority, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), seems to imply it has little idea of the ravaging impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Nigerian economy, leaves a sour taste in the mouth and makes one wonder how it can put desperate measures in place.

Often times, Nigerian policymakers have enacted policies that have conflicted with the country’s reality due to their poor perception or understanding of what the true state of the economy is.

To the surprise of most economists, the CBN stated clearly in a note published on its website that it expects Nigeria’s economic growth to decline by a meagre 1.03 percent. This is at variance with the thinking among analysts, economists, international bodies and even Nigeria’s Ministry of Finance.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in June revised further downward to 5.4 percent their economic contraction expectation for Nigeria from 3.4 percent. Zainab Ahmed, Nigeria’s Finance Minister, projected that the country would contract between 4 to 8.9 percent.

This begs the question as to what parameters the CBN’s optimism is based. We cannot but wonder whether the CBN has opted for ‘walk by faith’ rather than ‘by sight’ in what is glaring to all.

CBN’s second quarter outlook of seems to point to an almost certain possibility that Nigeria’s economy is headed for a V-shaped recovery after plunging quarter-on-quarter by 0.64 percent to 1.87 percent in Q1 2020.

This also creates a misleading illusion of Nigeria’s resistance to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hence, the question: Is the CBN insinuating a contraction by 1.03 percent is the worst impact the pandemic has on economic activities in Nigeria?

Given that the negative effects of the pandemic was felt more in the second quarter of this year, the CBN’s outlook is, at best, a wish and not realistic as factors that will support its optimistic stance are missing.

Nigeria’s Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) which is a leading indicator providing valuable insights into the state of the Nigerian economy in general and the manufacturing sector in particular, provides a picture of what the Nigerian reality is.

The PMI reading for Q2 2020 was below 50, signifying manufacturers and non-manufacturers pessimism on the state of the economy and this signals a contraction.

It was no longer business as usual for the Nigerian manufacturing sector which contributes over $30 billion to the GDP. COVID-19 induced disruptions in business supplies, fall in household demands etc, coupled with foreign exchange scarcity, took a toll on manufacturers in the last quarter. Many had to lay off staff while some cut salaries.

Worsened by rising inflation which has caused consistent weakening in households purchasing power amid job losses, many manufacturers and non-manufacturers , especially manufacturers of non-essential commodities, will see sales drop and profit margin shrink.

Also, Nigeria risks another year of underperforming budget as price of oil is yet to recover to levels above $60 witnessed in January 2020. As a result, the FG had to cut down its revenue expectation by 36.4 percent to N5.16 trillion.

Therefore, we employ the Nigerian authorities and policy makers to remain factual and realistic when reviewing and giving outlook for the economy. We hope that this will help drive policies and actions that will suggest the level of work that must be done in line with current reality.

We believe that CBN’s outlook is unrealistic given how its FX demand management activities and reluctance to unify Nigeria’s exchange rates have stifled business operations and driven away foreign investors from our markets.

Nigeria’s journey to recovery calls for desperate measures and we urge the CBN to start this by providing clarity on Nigeria’s FX rate position and how it hopes to clear dollar-demand backlog.

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COVID-19 may slow CBN’s 80% financial inclusion by 2020

Nigeria’s goal of ensuring 80 percent of Nigerian adults have access to financial services by the end of 2020 may no longer be visible as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has adversely affected the revenue of many households and businesses.

However, stakeholders say collaboration may be the only opportunity the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has to achieve the target, given the time left in 2020.

The stakeholders, who include the CBN, Mastercard, Carbon, MTN Nigeria, VerifyMe and Acumen, on Thursday, participated in BusinessDay Digital Dialogue Series with special focus on ‘Future of Payment and Financial Inclusion.’

As of July 23, Nigeria had 38,344 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 813 deaths and 15,815 people recovered. While the number continues to rise, the economic impact has been very devastating for many people and businesses. By April when the government began to enforce a nationwide lockdown, many online lenders said they were expecting massive defaults, a signal that all was not well with the majority of adults who had access to financial services.

But it was already predicted in a report by the Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access (EFInA), the organisation that conducts biennial reports on Nigeria’s financial inclusion industry. EFInA had noted at the beginning of the year that while more people became financially included between 2016 and 2018, it was not at the same pace with population growth rate. The COVID-19 has now exacerbated the situation, as experts note that much of the current 63.2 percent of the population with access to financial services have fallen behind.

Paul Oluikpe, associate head, Financial Inclusion Secretariat, CBN, says the current financial inclusion figures are being put together by EFInA and is likely to show that many people have fallen through the cracks in huge proportions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bank also conducted a survey in which it found out that payment adoption was currently at 40 percent, savings at 24 percent, credit at 2 percent; pensions at 2 percent, insurance at 2 percent and financial exclusion at 36.8 percent, meaning that Nigeria is way behind other countries in financial inclusion.

“Hence, we have a -16 to -18 percent chance in reducing exclusion to 20 percent by 2025,” Oluikpe states. But the CBN says its agent programme, SANEF, is growing with about 350,000 agents added, with plans to increase the number to 500,000 already on.

The CBN however acknowledges that achieving the target is of great importance, as the cost of managing cash is very expensive and at the expense of the economy. Thus, in recent times it has increased its efforts to deepen its cashless policy.

In 2019, the apex bank granted Approval In Principle for Payment Service Bank licences to three organisations – Glomobile, 9Mobile and Unified Payments. MTN Nigeria on the other hand got a Super Agent Licence. The CBN has, however, withheld the PSB licence that would see telcos fully involved in offering financial services.

While many analysts have said the pace of financial inclusion could significantly improve with telcos’ full involvement in financial services, the CBN can also benefit from other collaborations. Elsa Muzzolini, general manager, commercials, Mobile Financial Services, MTN Nigeria, notes that there is more telcos can offer the sector.

“As part of the journey to achieving financial inclusion for all, I think we can do so much through collaboration and partnership with players in the fintech and the banking space, and as the number one telecommunications service provider in the country, that is core to our operations,” Muzzolini says.

Beyond telcos, the collaboration is starting to include non-bank financial services providers like Mastercard, which has a vast footprint of providing financial inclusion across the world.
“5 years ago, we committed to bringing 500 million financially excluded individuals into the digital economy,” Ebehijie Momoh, senior vice president, Mastercard West Africa, states, noting, “We achieved that goal and are focused on bringing in a total of 1 billion individuals by 2025.”

Mastercard developed and implemented solutions that make it easier and more convenient for people to use alternative means of payment instead of cash. Momoh says collaboration with the government is critical as it would enable innovation.

Financial inclusion is also attracting impact investors who are identifying innovative start-ups providing financial services to the grassroots.

Meghan Curran, West Africa director, Acumen, says impact investing can help identify innovative business models and ways to create access to financial services. Acumen has provided funding to Nigerian fintech start-up Paga twice.

“Identity management enables fintech and is a key pillar to financial inclusion,” Esigie Aguele, CEO of VerifyMe, saying, “We are committed to working with the government to digitize Nigerians.”

by Frank EleanyaMicheal Ani and Bailey Oluwabunmi

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FEC APPROVES N75BN YOUTH INVESTMENT FUND

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the establishment of a Nigerian youth investment fund for N75 billion.

It was created to support enterprise among Nigeria’s 68 million youths between ages of 18 and 35.

Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, disclosed this to State House Correspondents, yesterday.

According to him, youth within the age group with genuine business ideas are to pitch their ideas in any of the 125 micro-credit banks across the country and qualified candidates will have access to the funds.

Dare assured that like the N-power programme, the process is digital and will be fair to all youths aged 18 – 35 regardless of their ethnicity or social status.

“For the first time in the history of Nigeria, the Federal Executive Council today (yesterday) approved the establishment of the Nigerian Youth Investment Fund (NYIF) to the tune of N75 billion. This fund is meant to create a special window for accessing credit facilities and financing on the part of our youths that will help to fund their ideas, innovations and also support their enterprise.

“The best way to call it is that for the first time the country will have a youth bank. A fund that will cater specifically for our youth within the stipulated age band, which is going to be between 18 and 35 years.

“The second approval that secured was for the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development to play a lead role in working on necessary steps that need to be taken in terms of legislation, organisation and other aspects of financing.

“The Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning will take the lead when it comes to the aspect of financing, working with the CBN, the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and other relevant MDAs. A couple of other details will be released later, but I think the most important thing is that the N75 billion Nigerian Youth Investment Fund, to cater specifically for this target group, a population of over 68 million, got the attention and support of the Federal Executive Council today and this fund will be assessed by our youths, once they are able to present their ideas, they can assess this fund directly.”

Minister of Work and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said council approved a memorandum on the initiative of the president to source bitumen locally for road construction.

“It was a policy memorandum which revealed that a significant amount of bitumen we used in road construction in Nigeria is imported, therefore creating jobs abroad and we recommended to council to approve a directive to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Ministry of Mines and Steel to develop strategies to enhance, stimulate, and encourage local production of bitumen.

“Essentially, that policy recommendation was approved by the council today to encourage bitumen production locally in Nigeria. This will of course help to further diversify the economy and open another sub-sector of the extractive and hydro-carbon industry for local opportunities.

“We see a demand of 500,000 metric tonnes of bitumen locally per annum. So, we encourage those who can manufacture and produce bitumen locally to tap into this demand. We see the opportunity for thousands of jobs to be created directly if this is done. And government intends to give encouragement and support to all those who take up this opportunity.”

“We expect Kaduna Refinery to also raise its game by participating in this sub-sector of hydro-carbon industry.

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Young Professionals Program (WBG YPP)

The WBG YPP is a starting point for an exciting career at the World Bank Group. Young Professionals are recruited from around the world with various academic and professional backgrounds relevant to the World BankIFCandMIGA. We are looking for applicants who demonstrate a passion for international development, graduate education, relevant professional experience, and the potential to grow into impactful leadership roles across our institutions.

See more details about the program and apply using the link below

https://www.worldbank.org/en/about/careers/programs-and-internships/young-professionals-program

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ENUGU TECHNOLOGY TALENT CITY

The Enugu State Governor,  His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi through ENUGU STATE SME Agency has partnered with Utiva to introduce ENUGU TECHNOLOGY TALENT CITY to empower youths with requisite digital skills.

Register for this Programme, get Human Capital Development Loan to learn:

• Product design
• Programming 

And pay back when you are given a job through the Programme.

Register here: enugutech.com

Signed
Hon. Arinze Chilo-Offiah
Special Adviser, SME Development
Head, Enugu SME Center

#Gburugburuissme #Enugusme #Enugujobs
#digitalskills