Archive for nigeriang

More quoted companies release positive results

More quoted companies release positive results

The numbers of
quoted companies posting positive financial results at the Nigerian
Stock Exchange have continued to increase in figures.

Compared to last
year’s performance of some companies, where most of them posted
negative results, about 55 companies out of the over 80 companies that
have submitted financial results at the Exchange this quarter recorded
profits.

Market watchers had
predicted early this quarter that more quoted companies, particularly
the banks, will return to profitability in their financial reports on
the back of the improved state of the nation’s economy.

Stockbrokers at GTI
Capital, a stock broking firm, also said that the recent streak of
positive earnings emanating from quoted firms has continued to “add-up
enthusiasm to the market.” “Despite the fact that the market has been
in oscillatory trend as a result of periodic profit taking, volume of
transaction confirms intensified interest from the investing public,”
the firm stated. “In response to positive earnings reported in the
market, indicators grew northward (upward).”

Recent results

Nigerian Breweries’
unaudited result for the first quarter ended 31st March 2011 shows a
turnover of N52.029 billion as against N40.574 billion in the
comparable period of 2010. Profit after tax stood at N7.919 billion
compared with that of N6.456 billion in 2010.

Also, UAC Nigeria’s
unaudited result for the first quarter ended 31st March 2011 shows a
turnover of N12.533 billion, as against N10.912 billion in the
comparable period of 2010. The company’s profit after tax and minority
interest stood at N464.3 million compared with that of N422.09 million
in 2010.

In the unaudited
result of Nigerian Bottling Company, for the first quarter ended 31st
March 2011, the company recorded a turnover of N29.144 billion as
against N26.787 billion in the comparable period of 2010. Profit after
tax stood at N331 million compared with that of N241 million in 2010.
Oceanic Bank’s unaudited result for the first quarter ended 31st March
2011 shows gross earnings of N27.173 billion as against N30.351 billion
in the comparable period of 2010. The bank’s profit after tax stood at
N1.902 billion, compared with that of N1.676 billion in 2010.

Adesoji Solanke, a bank analyst at Renaissance Capital, an
investment bank, said Oceanic Bank financial results showed that the
company is returning to profitability though it is still evident that
the bank’s performance is “lethargic; as it experienced massive
write-back and recovery last year.” “Going forward, we believe
investors’ focus for these banks should be to see whether the yield
from their asset mix currently dominated with liquid assets, would be
adequate enough to cover their operating and regulatory expenses,” he
said. “We expect 2011 to be mixed in terms of financial performance
across the intervened banks space, but with an incremental
profitability run-rate through the quarters.”

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Commission creates account for revenues from disputed oil wells

Commission creates account for revenues from disputed oil wells

The Revenue
Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) yesterday said
revenue accruals from the exploitation of crude oil from the 172
disputed oil wells between Akwa Ibom and Rivers states are to be saved
in a special account pending the resolution of the issues by the
Inter-Agency Technical Committee on the implementation of the Supreme
Court Judgment.

The Commission said
at the end of its 53rd plenary session in Abuja that the decision to
create the escrow account was part of steps taken to ensure equity,
fairness and justice in the implementation of the judgment by the apex
court.

Head, Public
Relations unit of the commission, Theodora Onyebuchi, said the creation
of the account was part of the resolutions reached during the meeting.
“The amount due to Akwa Ibom and Rivers states for the month of
February 2011 from the disputed areas in which the 172 oil wells are
located would be put into an Escrow Account pending the time the
inter-agency technical committee on the implementation of the Supreme
Court Judgment completes its assignment,” Mrs Onyebuchi said.

Level of compliance

Following the
Supreme Court’s judgment of Friday, March 18, 2011 in suit No.
SC/27/2010 in the dispute between the two states over the ownership of
the oil well, the attorney general of the federation and minister of
justice had written to the commission and other relevant agencies to
advise them on the need to comply with the judgment, especially the 1st
order on page 16 of the lead judgment.

The judgment had
ordered for the immediate transfer of 86 oil wells hitherto located in
Akwa Ibom territory to Rivers State as well as the refund of certain
amounts that the former may have earned from the exploitation of oil
from the wells between April 2009 and March 2011.

Following the
judgment, the RMAFC constituted an Inter-Agency Technical Committee,
which was inaugurated on Wednesday, April 13, 2011, with a mandate to
examine the implications of the judgment in all its ramifications and
collate the data required to effectively implement the judgment.

The Committee
comprise of: Representatives of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN),
Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), National Boundary Commission
(NBC), Office of the Surveyor General of the Federation (OSGF),
Attorney General of the Federation/Ministry of Justice (AGF/MOJ),
Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), and
Accountant General of the Federation (AGF).

The required data
include the crude oil and gas production data for the affected oil
wells from April, 2009 to March, 2011; the prevailing commercial
interest rates for the period, April 2009 to March 2011; details of the
13 percent Derivation Fund Disbursements to oil producing States for
the period April, 2009 to March 2011; computed revenue earnings and
amounts to be paid to Rivers State by Akwa Ibom State as refunds as
ordered by the apex court.

Besides, the
Inter-Agency Technical Committee, which was given two weeks from the
date of its inauguration to complete its assignment, was also mandated
to make recommendations on the modalities for the repayment of the
amount due to Rivers State.

Though the
committee has since submitted an interim report to the commission, it
was gathered yesterday that its final report is expected in two weeks’
time.

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Rising cost of cement worry dealers

Rising cost of cement worry dealers

Stakeholders in the
cement industry have expressed concern over the increasing prices of
the product across the country in the last four months.

Some have attributed the situation to problems of inadequate supply, high transportation cost and policy somersault.

A survey conducted
by the News Agency Nigeria (NAN) across the country showed that prices
of the different brands of cement have gone up by an average of 44
percent in the past four months.

A bag of cement, which was sold for an average of N1, 500 in December 2010 is now on the average of N2, 500.

The cost of cement has now become a sensitive issue like that of petroleum products and food items.

The major brands of cement in the country are: Ashaka, Ibeto, Burham, Bua, Elephant and Dangote.

They are
manufactured in different locations across the country although dealers
said the Dangote brand is the most popular as it is more readily
available in the market.

Abdulkadir Ibrahim, a civil servant in Kano, described the rising prices of cement as “painful and incredible.”

“I am just building a corner shop near my house and it is taking me years to actualise it because of high prices of cement.

“I used to buy a
bag of Dangote cement for N1, 800 just four months ago, but now it
costs N2, 350. Government must do something about this,” Ibrahim said.

Aliyu Mahmood, a businessman in Kano, also bemoaned the high and unstable prices of cement across the country.

Supply deficit

“If I buy a bag of
Ashaka cement for N2, 150 today, tomorrow they will increase the price
to N2, 250 because of the scarcity. This is traumatic,” Mr Mahmood, who
is building a duplex in Kano, said.

The survey showed that the rising prices are often market induced because of supply deficit.

NAN reports that
cement dealers in Akure, Ondo State, have confirmed the scarcity of all
the brands which, they said, had in turn affected the prices.

Funso Omotola, a
dealer on Idanre Road, Akure, told NAN that price of Elephant brand of
cement rose to as high as N2, 750 in late March due to short supply and
high demand for the product.

Stakeholders alleged that some cement manufacturers were taking advantage of the supply gap to increase prices arbitrarily.

An official of
Ashaka Cement depot in Kaduna, who pleaded anonymity, told NAN that a
bag was sold for N1, 500 in November last year, but since then, the
depot had not received any supply.

Some dealers have also blamed high transportation cost for the recent hike in prices of cement.

Abdullrasaq Usman,
a cement distributor at Kaduna North Railway Station, told NAN that it
used to cost them N80, 000 to transport 600 bags of cement from Obajana
in Kogi State to Kaduna.

Mr Usman said it now cost N300, 000 to transport same quantity to Kaduna due to the scarcity of diesel.

“The cost of a
trailer load containing 600 bags of cement is N912,000 while
transportation cost is N300,000, which makes the unit price N2,020 from
the manufactures,” he said.

Price fluctuations

Dele Ade-Ojo, an
engineer and Head of Works Department at a local government secretariat
in Akure told NAN that fluctuations in the prices of cement has greatly
affected construction works in the council.

To accommodate the
high cost of cement, the engineer said he had to come up with so many
cost variations on projects he was handling.

A report from
Cement Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (CMAN) and Renaissance
Capital on cement situation in Nigeria confirmed that there was a
supply deficit which local producers had not been able to meet despite
investments in new plants.

“The high costs of
doing business in Nigeria and other factors have helped to keep
capacity utilisation at an industry average of 68 percent over the last
five years,” CMAN said.

NAN

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OIL POLITICS: The petroleum bill and last minute legislative contortion

OIL POLITICS: The petroleum bill and last minute legislative contortion

Legislative advocacy can a double-edged sword, if what you fight
for is shrouded in secrecy and all you depend on is the initial draft that was
in the public domain. One case in point is the much-expected Petroleum Industry
Bill (PIB). The PIB has generated so much interest because the oil and gas
sector has been left open to manipulation by political and industry players who
made massive gains while the nation got short-changed.

Aside the campaign for the passage of the Freedom of Information
bill, the clamour for the passage of the PIB has really captured the attention
of many. We all remember the recent public demonstrations of extractive sector
transparency campaigners in Abuja, demanding that the national assembly passes
the PIB into law before their tenure elapses later on this month.

Some observers have been careful to note that passage of the
bill, without public inkling as to what the final contents are, could be quite
injurious and on that account it is essential that the public be let in on what
has been cooked between the legislators, the petroleum ministry (the executive)
and the oil companies.

As May 29 draws close and industry watchers expect that the PIB
will be passed into law anytime before then, we have sought to have a peek into
what the final document may look like. The best we have been able to see is a
document that is yet to be cleaned up, but that gives an indication as to what
we may expect.

If you have pointed interest in environmental and social
elements of our laws, as some of us do, you can expect a PIB that is not as
good as the initial draft that was made public and was subject to many comments
and inputs.

A cursory look at the items deleted from the original document
by the final draughtsmen gives an indication that the pressures for this
watered-down law came heavily from those who care least about the environment
and the communities in whose territory the oil fields happen to be.

At the same time one gets the impression that the lawmakers
believe that the concerns of the communities can be fully taken care of by
allocating some cash to them. This has always been the bait and is not
innovative in the least.

The senate committee recommends the deletion of a section that
stipulated that oil companies “be responsible for any environmental damage,
pollution or ecological degradation occurring within the licence or lease area
as the result of exploration or production activities, in the case of upstream
operators and as a result of any licensed activity in the case of downstream
activities.”

The reason for the deletion is that another section provides
sufficiently for any “direct” impacts on the environment. Deleting the section
is suspicious, just as we note that environmental degradation is not only
caused by “direct” impacts and polluters should not be allowed to carry on with
business as usual under this cover.

The “final” PIB also rejects the proposal to measure production
volumes at wellhead rather than at distribution terminals. This will
undoubtedly ensure the opacity of the sector and the reckless thievery it
engenders. To add to the profit pile of the oil companies’, royalty and tax
regimes have been manipulated in their favour.

Another section that has significant deletions is found in the
provisions for labour rights. The legislators would not allow anything that
protects the rights of workers in the sector and the reason given is that other
laws already cover such needs. They pointedly deleted the “right to freedom of
association and effective recognition of the right of collective bargaining.” They
also chucked out protection against forced labour or use of underaged persons.

In reality, the restriction of collective bargaining rights
(including the sustained casualisation of labour) has been a major area of
struggle for labour unionists in the sector.

The legislators also think that it is wrong to create space for
the engagement of federal, state and local governments and communities in
promoting and ensuring “peace and development of the petroleum producing
areas.” The reason given for this is that the provision is a mere policy
statement and “has no legal binding character.” At another level, the final PIB
rejects the idea of incorporating the existing joint ventures and thus promotes
the retaining of business as usual.

On the trump card that should silence communities, the PIB seeks
to create a Host Communities Fund which would require that operators pay a
“nominal ten percent equity participation in upstream petroleum operations in
the Fund as beneficial owners to hold in trust.” This section is presented in
such a contorted way that even anyone can dance any which way.

Of the total sum held, 80 percent will, from time to time, be
allocated for development projects within the communities. The provision here
is that it will be of benefit to communities wholly or partially within the
lease areas of the oil and gas operators. It is very interesting to note that
the benefiting communities will have to demonstrate their direct involvement or
exposure to petroleum operation within the licensing area.

How would the direct involvement of the communities be
determined? Watch this: they have to collate the number of oil wells, flow
stations, oil terminals and power generating plants in their territory. They
also have to sum up the length of pipelines that cross their area and also the
number of gas flares. If gas flares suddenly become an asset, one wonders why
communities are not equally required to count the number of oil spills as well
as measure the volumes of oil spilled into their lands, swamps and rivers for
the same purpose.

Gas flares?

One would have thought that the final drafters of the PIB knew
nothing about gas flares because even the little mention of this illegal
activity in the initial draft has been completed yanked off the “final” copy.

If the copy of the PIB we have seen is an indication of what we are to
expect, it is clear that another opportunity to sanitise the sector is being
squandered. It will be a sad day indeed if the current legislators foist a
rigged PIB on the nation on the throes of their departure.

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Nigerian banks sitting on excess cash

Nigerian banks sitting on excess cash

Nigerian
banks are currently sitting on excess level of liquidity as financial
institutions are cautious to do real banking business post crisis
period. A recent report by Renaissance Capital (RenCap) stated that
with the relatively robust returns from government instruments, the
banks have virtually abandoned their intermediation role and are
playing safe.

“Traditionally
low-risk government T-bills, and recently government guaranteed
interbank assets, offer high-single digit to low-double-digit returns,
which encourages banks to run their balance sheets like hedge funds, as
opposed to proper economic intermediators of funds, as the additional
return (if any) on lending for the increased risk involved is, at
times, simply not worth the risk,” the report stated.

Deputy
governor, economic policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sarah
Alade said recently that banks now prefer lending to government instead
of the real sector. “In terms of interest rate being high, when
government borrows money, offering banks higher rates than the private
sector can offer, banks naturally lend to government,” she said last
week at a forum in Lagos.

Efficient intervention needed

The
RenCap report therefore advised banks to grow their loan books. “For
us, the bottom line here is that the structure of Nigerian banks’
balance sheets, on average, highlights a very cautious, underleveraged
banking system that could comfortably squeeze-out more leverage, and
therefore bigger profits, without dramatically shifting out of their
low-risk comfort zones.” The report mentioned UBA and Zenith Bank as
institutions with the largest pool of cheap funds.

Recent positive trends

The
report incorporates coverage on Zenith Bank, First Bank, Access Bank,
Diamond Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB), United Bank for Africa (UBA),
Skye Bank, First City Monument Bank (FCMB) and Fidelity Bank. It
incorporates strong buy recommendation for Zenith Bank, First Bank,
UBA, FCMB, Skye Bank and Fidelity Bank as the sector looks forward to a
new growth spurt following the clean-up process undertaken by AMCON
(ASSET Management Corporation of Nigeria).

Renaissance Capital also anticipates strong credit growth in 2011
following recent positive trends. Speaking about the report, lead
author David Nangle said, “Taking into account AMCON’s success at
restoring confidence in the Nigerian Banking sector, we believe it is
poised for a new era of growth. This is based on Nigeria’s strong
macro-economic outlook, with growth projected to be between 7-8 per
cent in 2011 and the strong capitalisation in the banking sector.” The
report added that the moves by foreign banks to buy into the sector may
represent a medium-term threat to the current local private
bank-dominated playing field.

The
report stated that though the Nigerian banking space offers an
appealing investment base, there was still the risk associated with
frontier-markets investment. These include the legal system, with
regards to the length of time required to resolve financial court
cases, corruption, weak corporate governance, and the need to diversify
the economy.

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Stock market performance remains shaky

Stock market performance remains shaky

Mixed performances have continued to characterise trading
activities at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) as market indicators maintained
unsteady movements.

The NSE market capitalisation and the All-Share Index, the two
market measuring parameters, which depreciated by 0.16 percent at the close of
trading on Monday, went up by 0.17 percent yesterday after appreciating by 0.68
percent on Tuesday.

Stockbrokers at GTI Capital, a stock broking firm, said the mix
trading performances could be attributed to the activities of profit takers in
the market.

They said the market opened the new week on a negative note
despite the increased activities on the floor of exchange. “Early hours of
trade revealed moderate activities savoured with investors willingness to
consolidate positions on some handful of fundamental stocks. However, selling
pressure emerged toward the closing hours pushing indicators down,” they
explained.

Meanwhile, they said recent gains on some blue chip stocks have
been driving the positive performance in the market.

Market rebounds

The market capitalisation of the 194 first-tier equities closed
yesterday at N8.140 trillion after opening the day at N8.126 trillion,
reflecting N14 billion gains. About N55 billion was gained on Tuesday after the
market lost N13 billion the preceding day. The All-Share Index gained 45.24
units yesterday on the previous day’s figures of 25,432.93 basis points, to
close at 25,478.17.

At the end of Wednesday’s trading, the number of gainers closed
higher at 361 compared with the 32 recorded on Tuesday, while losers also
closed higher at 22 against the 19 recorded the previous trading day.

Costain West Africa topped the gainers chart for the day with
4.97 percent price appreciation, while Northern Nigeria Flour Mills topped the
losers chart with 4.98 percent depreciation.

Guinness Nigeria yesterday released its unaudited results for
the third quarter ended March 31 2011. The financial results show a turnover of
N89.801 billion as against N80.576 billion in the comparable period of 2010.
Profit after tax stood at N17.562 billion compared with profit after tax
ofN13.754 billion in 2010.

Also, the board of directors of Julius Berger yesterday proposed
a dividend of N2 per share to its shareholders.

Exchange commission

In the meantime, Daisy Ekineh, the executive commissioner in
charge of operations at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), said
recently that some of SEC’s main objectives to improve market activities this
year include encouraging companies to stay listed in the market by “continuing
to introduce best practices in periodic disclosure, securities issuance, and
merger and acquisition mandatory takeovers.”

Mrs Ekineh said the commission is “understanding and addressing
concerns of listed companies without undermining disclosure standards and
market integrity.” She said that SEC is working at promoting new products in
the market while the commission “improves on its process of electronic filing
of returns and offer documents.”

Meanwhile, the Association of Stockbroking Houses of Nigeria,
through its chairman, Rashed Yussuff, has expressed readiness to cooperate with
the new management of the NSE to reposition the market while they charged the
new management team to evolve policies that will benefit the market operators.

The assurance was given when Adeolu Bajomo, the newly appointed executive
director in charge of the NSE’s Market Operations and Information Technology,
was introduced to the stockbrokers on the floor of the exchange by Oscar
Onyema, the chief executive officer of the exchange.

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Capital market working towards global integration

Capital market working towards global integration

The Nigerian Stock
Exchange (NSE) says it is on track towards its integration into global
capital market operations and standards.

The chairman of the
Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) board of directors, Udoma
Udoma, told participants in the ongoing Thomson Reuters Foundation
journalism training course on financial and economic reporting in
Lagos, that apart from the reforms to restore confidence in the wake of
the 2008 market crash, steps have been taken to upgrade the operational
process to bring them to global standards.

He noted
unprecedented growth by all market indicators, saying capitalisation
rose fromN2.5 trillion in 2005 to N12.1 trillion by March 2008, while
trading value increased with a daily average of N1.06 billion from
N254.7 billion in 2005 to N2.086 trillion in 2007, with a daily average
of N8.62 billion.

Though he said
market capitalisation as of December 31, 2010, was at about N10.33
trillion, with about 264 listed securities comprised of 217 equities
and 47 debts, Mr Udoma, however, traced the collapse of the capital
market to insider dealings as well as abuses of margin lending by
banks, which gave loans to many investors to buy shares without
collateral.

He said the
reactivation of FGN bond resulted in the issuance of over N3.5 trillion
bonds between 2003 and 2010, while secondary transactions of the bonds
on OTC market was over N48 trillion between 2006 and 2010, with about
11 state governments going to the market to raise funds for their
programmes.

Market challenges

He listed the
challenges the market is currently facing to include low investor
confidence; poor market depth, in terms of limited securities and
products on offer; poor savings and investment culture as a result of
the country’s low per capita income; low market liquidity; excessive
market concentration, with over 60 percent of trading activities on
bank stocks as well as legal constraints.

As part of the
reforms, he said 52 new rules and amendments have been introduced since
2008, including new margin trading guide lines by the Central Bank of
Nigeria and the Anti-Money Laundering/Combating Financing of Terrorism
manual to help banks and stockbrokers check incidences of money
laundering.

Besides, he said a
new code of corporate governance, which became effective last month,
requires auditors to report on the adequacy and effective of internal
regulatory systems as well as change the company’s audit and partners
every year, while upgrades have been carried out on the NSE platform to
meet international standards.

“We are on track
towards reforming the Nigerian Stock Exchange into a world class
capital market. The country’s capital market is not in isolation from
the international community. The Nigerian economy is poised to take off
with the stability being provided better elections,” he said.

Other actions taken
to reform the system include development of a model for risk-based
supervision, particularly for regulated entities; rationalization of
the market’s intermediary structure through stratification of the
broker-community; overhauling of complaints management framework to
ensure improved efficiency and alignment of the market with
international best practices in complaint management as well as
encouragement of functional market makers to facilitate securities
lending and borrowing.

International regulatory standards

Apart from
migration to International Financial Reporting Standard before 2012,
the SEC board chairman said the commission is considering the
self-assessment exercise of the implementation of the 38 International
Organisation of Securities Commission objectives as well as the
principles of securities regulations to conform to international
regulatory standards.

“Capital market
offers enterprises and governments wider opportunities to secure funds
for development. Where there is no developed capital market, short-term
funds from commercial banks are not the best sources of funding for
business enterprises and long term investments.

“In Nigeria, where industrial production is as low as 4 percent of
gross domestic product (GDP), as against an average of 8.5 percent
about 15 years, it is the country’s low industrial capacity that is
partly responsible for the current high unemployment in the country.
Therefore, if Nigeria must realize its aspiration to be among the
world’s top 20 economies by 2020, industry share of the GDP has to
increase to about 20-25 percent. That is why the integration of the
capital market is crucial,’ he said.

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Top economy not achievable by 2020

Top economy not achievable by 2020

The
ambitious target to be among the top 20 economies by the year 2020 may
be farfetched after all, as Nigeria’s current growth trajectory does
not support such climb. World Bank country director for Nigeria, Onno
Ruhl, said Nigeria’s current gross domestic product growth of around
seven percent is not enough to achieve that feat.

“Vision
2020 is not about if it can be achieved by 2020, because any economist
will tell you at this point that would take you about 15 percent growth
every year and that has not happened in the history of mankind anyway.”

Do things differently

He
said instead of striving to be among the top 20 economies within the
time frame, the country should begin to do things differently in order
to grow the economy. “The point is, Nigeria should be among the 20
largest economies. Whether it is 2023 or 2024, it doesn’t matter. What
matters is that Nigeria should be ambitious and not accept second best.
Nigeria should aspire to be the best in everything it does on the
continent. That is the destiny of the largest country on the continent
as far as I can see.”

The
federal government in 2008, launched the Vision 2020 with a mandate
that “by 2020, Nigeria will be one of the 20 largest economies in the
world, able to consolidate its leadership role in Africa and establish
itself as a significant player in the global economic and political
arena.”

Implementing plans and visions

Mr
Ruhl said rather than discussing why Nigeria has not succeeded, the
emphasis should be on what the country needs to do in order to be where
it belongs.

“The
best example is China which achieved ten percent growth consistently
for 30 years. There is no reason Nigeria cannot achieve that and if it
does, it would be a different country very quickly and a much better
country by the year 2020.”

He
said the major challenge facing the country was implementing the plans
and visions that have been drawn over the years. “There is nobody that
does not know how to solve the power problems in Nigeria. It is not
rocket science. The issue is how we are going to do what needs to be
done.”

The
major focus of implementation of the vision include agriculture and
food security, business environment and competitiveness, corporate
governance, culture, tourism and national re-orientation, education,
employment, energy, health, housing, human development, information and
communications technology, judiciary and the rule of law and
manufacturing, among other.

Mr Ruhl said within the next few years, Nigeria will grow to be the
largest economy in Africa and must begin to position for that role.

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Agriculture scheme gets N133b in two years

Agriculture scheme gets N133b in two years

A total of N133.11
billion has been disbursed under the N200 billion Commercial
Agriculture Credit Scheme as at April, 2010 to 139 beneficiaries across
the country. The beneficiaries include 115 individuals/private
promoters and 24 state governments. The federal government in 2009
launched the scheme to intervene in the agriculture sector which
currently contributes over 40 per cent to the country’s gross domestic
product (GDP).

Under the scheme,
which is funded from the proceeds of the N200 billion bond raised by
the Debt Management Office, participating banks can access for onward
lending to their customers while state governments and Abuja could also
borrow for on-lending to farmers in their domain.

The participating
states have accessed N1 billion each for lending to farmers. According
to data posted on the website of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the
states are Adamawa, Anambra, Bauchi, Enugu, Gombe, Kebbi, Kogi, Imo,
Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Ondo, Sokoto, Taraba Zamfara, Akwa Ibom,
Rivers, Plateau, Edo, Kano, Benue, Bayelsa, Ogun and the Federal
Capital Territory – Abuja.

The funds are
disbursed through participating banks. The 13 banks participating in
the scheme are Access Bank, Fidelity Bank, First Bank, Guaranty Trust
Bank, Oceanic Bank, Skye, Stanbic IBTC, Union Bank, UBA, Unity Bank and
Zenith Bank. UBA has made the highest disbursement of N37.46 billion to
36 projects followed by Union Bank with N16.15 billion to 18 projects.
Zenith bank disbursed N13.84 billion to 10 projects while First Bank
disbursed N11.92 to 29 projects.

The Central Bank
stated that for failure to abide by guidelines, the regulator withdrew
fund from five banks with respect to 22 projects. The banks are UBA
N12.053 billion, Guarantee Trust Bank N581 million, Skye Bank N2
billion, First Bank N1.6 billion and Union Bank N2.166 billion.

Fast track development

The scheme was
meant to provide cheap funds to fast track development of the
agricultural sector, enhance national food security by increasing food
supply, reduce the cost of credit in agricultural production and
generate employment in the sector.

According to the
Central Bank, the key agricultural commodities to be covered under the
scheme are cultivation of target crops (rice, cassava, cotton, oil
palm, wheat, rubber, sugar cane, fruits and vegetable), Livestock
(dairy, poultry, and piggery), and fisheries.

Agriculture potential

The Managing
director of the World Bank, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala stated recently that
African countries need to improve on agriculture potentials in order to
boost its growth trajectory and reduce poverty. “I think African
countries really have to sustain their efforts to use agriculture funds
to ensure food security,” she said.

According to her,
Nigeria needs “to think of agriculture in a modern way,” since,
according to her, it is a sector that can provide so much employment.

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Starcomms’ shares boost at trading session

Starcomms’ shares boost at trading session

Trading activities
in Starcomms’ shares yesterday boosted market volume as the quantity of
shares transacted during the day rose by 26.11 percent as against a
marginal increase of 6.59 percent recorded last trading day. A total of
371.664 million shares were traded compared to 294.696 million at the
previous trading session last Friday.

Investors traded
69.569 million units of Starcomms’ shares worth N50.674 million on
Monday while the company’s share price, listed under the Nigerian Stock
Exchange’s Information & Communication Technology subsector, rose
by 2.74 percent to close at 75 kobo per share. The large traded volume
was followed by Zenith Bank, United Bank for Africa and FinBank.

Olugbenga Emmanuel,
a finance analyst at WealthZone Company, a portfolio management
company, said the investors’ confidence may not have been restored at
the nation’s bourse, “but some institutional investors are currently
buying some stocks at low prices; taking advantage of sellers’
enthusiasm despite the continuous decline in the entire market
performance.”

Decline continues

Meanwhile, the
market capitalisation of equities at the stock exchange depreciated by
0.16 percent at the close of trading session on Monday. The NSE market
capitalisation of the 194 First-Tier equities closed yesterday at
N8.071 trillion after opening the day at N8.084 trillion, reflecting
N13 billion losses.

The NSE All-Share
Index yesterday shed 0.15 percent or 37.96 units to close at 25,262.50
basis points from the 25,300.46 recorded at the beginning of the day’s
trading.

The number of
gainers on Monday closed lower at 33 stocks compared to the 35 stocks
recorded last Friday. UAC Properties topped the gainers chart for the
day with five percent appreciations or 80 kobo to close at N16.81 per
share. On the losers’ side, a total of 21 stocks recorded price decline
compared to the 19 stocks that declined in the previous trading day.
Diamond Bank topped the losers chart with 4.97 percent depreciation or
37 kobo to close at N7.08 per share.

At the close of
trading yesterday, the banking subsector led the most active
subsector’s chart with 195.526 million quantities of shares, valued at
N1.609 billion. Volume in the subsector was largely driven by Zenith
Bank, followed by United Bank for Africa and FinBank.

The Information
& Communication Technology subsector was second in the most active
subsectors’ chart with 69.599 million volumes of shares, valued at over
N50.689 million. Starcomms, the most traded stock for the day, largely
boosted volume in the subsector, followed by Chams Plc.

Trading activities
in the Insurance subsector was third in the chart. Investors in the
sector exchanged 33.653 million volumes of shares, valued at N19.661
million.

Deals in shares of Equity Assurance, NEM Insurance, Universal Insurance Company,

and Goldlink Insurance boosted volume in the subsector.

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