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    Enugu Investment Roundtable: Now, Let the Transactions Begin

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    This Friday, Governor Peter Mbah of Enugu State will flag off the inaugural Enugu State Investment and Economic Growth Stakeholders Roundtable where he will unveil a $2.1 billion (N1.6 trillion Naira) project pipeline that spans several industries such as transportation and healthcare infrastructure, energy, power, and agro industrialisation. The Roundtable, which is a precursor to the launch of a maiden multi-stakeholder, fully transactional Diaspora and Investment Forum scheduled for the second quarter of 2024, is themed “Leveraging Public Private Partnerships”.

    It is expected to draw participation from senior executives from the World Bank Group, the African Development Bank Group, the International Finance Corporation, the African Export-Import Bank, the United Kingdom Department for Trade and Business, and the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC). These in addition to the Nigerian Sovereign Wealth Fund, commercial banks, corporate pension funds, private equity funds, infrastructure funds, and other domestic financial institutions will convene in Enugu to chart a trajectory for effectively mobilising private capital for large-scale infrastructure projects, including climate resilient and sustainable infrastructure projects that can unlock the state’s and South-Eastern Nigeria’s economic potential.

    They will be focusing on barriers to investment and economic growth in Enugu State; improving investor confidence in the State and understanding investor’s risk and return preferences; and identifying partnership opportunities for project preparation and co‑investments.

    It has been said many times, and rightly so, that at the root of Nigeria’s economic woes is a highly dysfunctional federal structure that has progressively reduced states to indolent dependents of the central government. In his back page treatise in the March 4, 2012 edition of Thisday newspaper, which he entitled “Federal Allocation and Our Future”, Simon Kolawole, a columnist, likened the story of Nigeria to that of a father, who has 36 children. But instead of encouraging all his children to be creative, hard working, and independent, this father (called Nigeria) ignores the larger picture of every child being self-sustaining and insists on redistributing his children’s wealth.

    Going further, he questioned: “Why do we need to stretch our brain to dream of building our own Microsoft and Apple when we can look up to Abuja for the flow of petrodollars every month? Why should Bauchi bother to tap its tourism potential? Why should Bayelsa dream of feeding Africa with its FADAMA rice when there is a fat FAAC cheque to be collected in Abuja monthly? Why should Aba be developed into our own Taiwan or Japan? There is no such incentive. The only incentive I can see in Nigeria is Federation Account”.

    Unfortunately, nothing has changed. Nigerian leaders still dream petrodollars, with the states ever unimaginative, lacking in creativity, and dependent on federal handouts. Today hard times have hit the nation because not only is oil price not what it used to be, powerful cartels now steal millions of barrels of oil, ‘undetected’ by those we pay to prevent such economic sabotage or at least apprehend the perpetrators.

    A paradigm shift

    The result is that Nigeria went into the 2023 election with the economy in a state of emergency. Thus, Governor Peter Mbah’s message of paradigm shift resonated with the people. Not only did he make the economy the crux of the matter, he unveiled an ambitious economic and development agenda built outside the Abuja monthly handouts. He believes that Enugu’s path to the future does not rely on the Federation Account, but in extensive partnership with the private sector powered by a creative and visionary leadership to harness the state’s natural and human resources and unlock the capital needed for growth from a megre $4.4 billion to $30 billion. He promised to leading Enugu to becoming one of the top three states in Nigeria in terms of GDP as well as to a zero per cent poverty rate. He promised to make Enugu the preferred destination for investment, tourism, and living.

    It was pursuant to these that he equally promised to organise an investment summit in Enugu within the first 100 days in office because the promised $30 billion economy could only be possible by bringing investors to help transform the Enugu economic landscape from a public sector to a private sector-driven economy.

    Abundant opportunities

    The good thing is that Enugu has no reason to be poor, given the abundant resources and opportunities, which are sadly dormant and untapped. As the governor rightly explained during the 2023 Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry International Conference and Expo in Lagos on Tuesday, Enugu is a land brimming with opportunities – agriculture and agro industry, real estate, logistics and aviation, tourism, real estate, mineral resources, and Information Communication Technology (ICT), among others – begging to be harnessed and exploited.

    In the area of agriculture and agro industry, for instance, Enugu is positioning to take advantage of our proven strong factor productivity in the areas of some key segments of agriculture by opening up another 300,000 hectres of farmland for cultivation of focus crops and animal production. Talking about crops, Enugu, under the administration is focusing on opportunities in cassava, soybeans, palm oil palm production, cashew (which global market size is predicted to hit $7bn by 2025), and Nsukka pepper, which has become a veritable export commodity as well as an industrial raw material for various spice brands. Likewise, investment opportunities in poultry, piggery, and fishery are quite large, as even local needs are not met at the moment.

    Enugu’s geographical position as the gateway to the North makes it attractive for agro-processing investments to process agro products from both Enugu and the North to service the South East and South South.

    It is noteworthy that the South East and the South South are the final destinations of 40 per cent of the air cargo imported through Lagos. This makes investments in logistics and aviation quite lucrative. Thus the Mbah administration is investing extensively in our logistics and aviation to make transit through and to Enugu efficient and seamless. It is prioritising development of a cargo terminal for the Enugu International Airport to facilitate the direct receipt of cargo in Enugu as opposed to the current practice of shipping into Lagos airport and then undertaking the arduous and expensive overland journey to the South East by truck. The terminal, according to the governor, will equally facilitate the export of agro-produce direct from Enugu.

    There are also opportunities in the light rail, which the state plans to develop in collaboration with other South East governments. Economic growth and investment opportunities also abound in the development of modern logistics centres at key crossroads like Obollo-Afor and Ninth Mile Corner as other investment opportunities as marshalled by the government.

    In the tourism industry, the state intends to develop world-class theme parks and is in the process of refurbishing and reactivating the Presidential Hotel, Enugu and completing the long abandoned International Conference Centre.

    In the area of real estate, the state would be developing a New Town, in response to the high demand for housing in the state. That alone would offer 60,000 household living spaces. In fact, real estate opportunities in Enugu are limitless.

    Meanwhile, whereas Enugu is popularly known as the Coal City State, the truth is that the state is blessed with natural gas. In fact, the state has joined the ranks of oil producing states. Furthermore, it has solid minerals such as ironstone, zinc, lead, limestone, and kaolin, among others, in abundance. The administration is therefore working with the federal government to bring in investors to produce them.

    The present administration priotises youth development so they can easily fit into and also reap bountifully from the world of robotic science, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, mechatronics, e-commerce and Fintech. It wants to transform the youths from job seekers to wealth creators and employment generators. Therefore, it seeks to build a Tier-4 Hyper scale Data centre that that will not only service local needs, but also offer hosting and other services to major businesses like Google and Facebook.

    Making life easy for investors

    The other good thing is that being a businessman himself, Dr. Peter Mbah understands the serious challenges faced by setting up and running businesses in Nigeria, hence has promised to make life easy for investors.

    “Enugu is now open for business. We will make life easy for you. We are markedly revisiting our ‘ease of doing business’ indicators to ensure the environment is conducive for business. For example, our new land title processes will facilitate the issuance of Certificate of Occupancy in not more than three days or 72 hours.

    “Processes for the procurement of building approvals will also be revisited and markedly reduced to achieve improved efficiency.

    “We are automating all our major government processes to ensure transparency in all aspects of engagement with government and facilitate self-service by the public with little or no need for physical engagement with public servants.

    “We are also willing to de-risk business investment in key sectors by providing access to land, providing support infrastructure, handling engagement with host communities, among others”, the governor had equally told the business community at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the 2023 International Conference and Expo.

    But, perhaps, most significant is that the government made security and peace the number one on its agenda from day one. Not only has the government been able to end the illegal Monday sit-at-home, it has restored normalcy through massive deployment of technology, personnel, and hardware. Only recently, the state launched the pilot phase of the Distress Response Squad (DRS), which is going to consist of over a hundred vehicles with very highly sophisticated technological devises, including surveillance cameras capable of facial and number plate recognition. The state is currently constructing the Command and Control Centre. This way, every part of the state will be monitored.

    In view of all these, there is no doubt that Enugu is ready for business. As the Investment and Economic Growth Stakeholders Roundtable kicks off, it can only be seen as a catalyst for an economic revolution that lies ahead. So, let the transactions begin.

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    Premium Breadmakers Association of Nigeria holds successful AGM & EXCO elections in Lagos

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    Lagos, Nigeria – May 10, 2024 – The Premium Breadmakers Association of Nigeria (PBAN) proudly announces the successful conclusion of its Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Executive Committee (Exco) Elections held on May 9th, 2024, in Lagos, Nigeria.

    The AGM, a hallmark event in the breadmaking industry, brought together esteemed members and industry leaders to reflect on the achievements of the past year and chart the course for the future. The assembly provided a platform for robust discussions on industry trends, challenges, and opportunities, fostering collaboration and innovation within the sector.

    One of the pivotal highlights of the AGM was the democratic process of electing the new Executive Committee to lead PBAN into its next chapter of growth and excellence. With a commitment to transparency and accountability, members cast their votes to elect passionate and visionary leaders who will steer the association towards its strategic objectives.

    The newly elected Executive Committee comprises dynamic individuals renowned for their dedication to the breadmaking industry and their unwavering commitment to advancing its interests. Their diverse expertise and collective vision promise to propel PBAN to new heights of success, innovation, and sustainability.

     

    Names and positions of the Executive Committee:

    1. Emmanuel Onuorah – President
    2. Abayomi Awe – Deputy President
    3. Emmanuel Onyoh – General Secretary
    4. Abayomi Okikiola – Assistant General Secretary
    5. Kene Mbuba – Treasurer
    6. Babalola Thomas – Public & Industrial Relations Officer
    7. Ekaette Okoi – Assistant Public & Industrial Relations Officer
    8. Adijat Olaniyi-Olopade – Financial Secretary
    9. Adebiyi Adebowale – Auditor
    10. Oludare Oladeji-Ojo – Compliance & Provost Officer
    11. Abisola Dejonwo-Tokan – Welfare Officer

     

    “We are thrilled to have successfully concluded our AGM and Exco Elections,” said Emmanuel Onuorah, President of PBAN. “The enthusiastic participation of our members reflects their dedication to the growth and prosperity of the breadmaking industry in Nigeria. With our newly elected Executive Committee at the helm, we are confident in our ability to navigate challenges, seize opportunities, and drive positive change for our members and stakeholders.”

    PBAN extends its gratitude to all attendees, participants, and volunteers whose contributions were instrumental in making the AGM and Exco Elections a resounding success. The association reaffirms its commitment to serving the interests of its members, promoting excellence in breadmaking, and contributing to the socio-economic development of Nigeria.

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    World Bank Blames FX Shortage, Naira Pressure For Parallel Market Resurgence

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    The World Bank has blamed the re-emergence of parallel currency exchange market in Nigeria on resistance toward the increasing pressure on the naira and the limited supply of forex at the official window.

    The Bank, in a report released on Wednesday in Washington DC, said the premium between the parallel exchange rate and the official rate widened from March 2020 until June 2023.

    “Despite changing the official exchange rate to better reflect market conditions in 2021—Nigeria operated multiple currency practices—the parallel rate premium continued to increase to 80 percent in November 2022 and then to about 60 percent in June 2023, as the Central Bank’s interventions to restrict foreign exchange demand and keep the exchange rate artificially low were met with declining FX supply from oil revenues,” said the report.

    It added that the prioritisation of strategic sectors and the imposed price ceilings and trade restrictions pushed transactions to the parallel market, which started to account for a large share of the foreign exchange transactions in the country, including for remittances, tourism, and exports of non-oil products.

    “After the unification and liberalisation of the exchange rates in June 2023, the NAFEX rate converged to the parallel one, closing the gap. However, resistance toward the increasing pressure on the Nigerian naira coupled with limited supply of FX at the official window has led to the reemergence of the parallel market premium,” the report said.

    The report, Africa’s Pulse, shows that Sub-Saharan Africa’s economic outlook remains bleak.

    It identified rising instability, weak growth in the region’s largest economies, and lingering uncertainty in the global economy as dragging down growth prospects.

    Economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa, it said, is forecast to decelerate to 2.5% in 2023, from 3.6% in 2022.

    It added that Nigeria and Angola will grow at 2.9% and 1.3% respectively due to lower international prices and currency pressures affecting oil and non-oil activity.

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    Nigeria’s Untapped Goldmine: Unlocking the Treasure Trove of Tourism

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    In the quest for a robust economic growth, one glaring truth stands out like a beacon of opportunity: Nigeria must diversify its resources. But alas, the powers that be seem to have a one-track mind, obsessively chasing oil money while our nation’s finances crumble beneath our feet. Unemployment soars, hunger gnaws at our people, and the cost of governance continues to spiral out of control.

    It’s high time we break free from this perilous dependence on black gold. Nigeria, a nation steeped in diverse culture and natural beauty, has a goldmine waiting to be tapped—tourism

    Our cultural heritage is a tapestry woven with threads of history and tradition, waiting to be showcased to the world. Festivals like the Eyo Festival, Argungi Fishing Festival, New Yam Festival, and the Durbar Festival could become global extravaganzas, attracting tourists from every corner of the planet. Imagine the economic windfall, the boost to SMEs, and, the creation of jobs and the enhancement of our global image as a hospitable and vibrant nation.

    But it doesn’t stop there. Nigeria boasts stunning beaches and waterways, prime for transformation into the maldives and Venice of Africa. Consider Makoko in Lagos, where people build their lives on the water – with proper development and management, it could become a traveler’s paradise, an unparalleled experience that visitors will cherish for a lifetime.

    And let’s not forget our diverse landscapes – from enchanting waterfalls to historic museums, impressive dams to mysterious caves, serene springs to lush parks, remarkable statues to majestic mountains and hills – we have it all! Yet, these treasures lie neglected, falling into disrepair, their vast potentials untapped.

    Let’s take a look at Kenya, another African country that’s become synonymous with thrilling safaris. Tourists flock there from all corners of the globe, including Nigeria, for wildlife experiences and encounters with nature. What is Nigeria known for in the tourism arena? We have the potential to create our own unique narrative, to become a destination choice that captures the hearts and minds of travelers worldwide.

    Egypt draws in hordes of visitors with its iconic pyramids and historic museums. When will Nigeria follow suit, investing in its cultural riches, tasty cuisines, Arts and local religions to attract both foreign and local visitors? We’re called the giants of Africa for a reason, and it’s high time we started acting like one.

    We possess the resources and the human capital to make this transformation happen. The sun is shining on Nigeria. Let’s seize this moment and unlock the treasure trove of tourism, not just for our economic growth but for the world to witness the beauty, history, and vibrant culture of our nation. It’s not merely an opportunity; it’s our duty to ourselves, our future generations, and the world that’s been waiting to explore the wonders of Nigeria.

    Ebere Joy is the current Miss Tourism Nigeria, a business consultant and financial advisor.

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