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Shipment: High tarriffs as operators’ albatross

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Three countries are currently benefiting from Nigeria’s N1trillion trade opportunities through cargoes diversion to their ports. In the last one decade, the country has lost 30 million tons of cargoes to Benin, Togo and Ghana due to high port tariffs. BAYO AKOMOLAFE reports

Since 2006, over three million metric tons of Chad and Niger’s cargoes, which were formerly handled by Nigeria, have been taken and shared among Togo, Benin and Ghana ports due to high charges, dwell time, corruption, extortion, congestion levy and poor infrastructure.
About 30 million tons of Chad and Niger Republic’s cargoes no longer transit through Nigerian ports.
Niger currently ships about 2.5 million metric tons of its cargo from Benin Republic, 1.5 million metric tons in Togo and close to a million metric tons in Ghana while Nigeria watches helplessly.
Drawing a comparison on dwell time, Apapa port’s dwell time, which was between 19 and 25 days, has increased to over 30 days, while Cotonou Port is between 12 and 14 days.

Loss
Because of unfriendly port environment, Shippers’ Association Lagos State (SALS) said that Nigeria was losing N 1trillion from import duties and other charges annually to Cotonou, Lome and Tema ports in West Africa.
President of the association, Rev Jonathan Nicol, also explained that the bad roads leading to Lagos ports had added to the losses.
Nicol said that importers were diverting their cargoes because of demurrage, terminal charges, dwell time and storage fees charged by shipping companies and terminal operators.
The president said that there were vessel queues within the Lome waters awaiting call-up for berthing in Lagos ports.
“This also attracts port congestion levy on cargo, which is no fault of the shippers. Demurrage on containers is increasing with no control from maritime agencies. Importers and exporters are suffering,” he noted.
Nicol said that manufacturers had incurred huge expenses on haulage due to lack of access roads.
Presently, the president said that entrance into Lagos ports had been blocked, while access out of the ports after loading had been crippled by gridlock.

Lamentation
Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Mr. Hassan Bello, said that the council was not comfortable with the way Niger Republic would go all the way to Cote d’ Ivoire and Ghana to transit its cargoes when Nigeria is closer to the land-locked country.
Bello stressed that it had become imperative for the country to regain the trade from its competitors.
He blamed terminal operators and shipping companies for allowing the country to lose the huge trade to neighbouring ports.
The executive secretary lamented that the operational efficiencies achieved at the port concession in the country had been eroded by excessive and high charges, abuse of agreement by terminal operators and shipping companies.
Bello noted: “You can imagine Niger Republic going all the way to Cote d’ Ivoire and Ghana to clear their cargoes. They are land-locked countries. It doesn’t make sense; the destination should be Nigeria so that we can move the cargoes.”
Despite this, the Chairman of the Seaports Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess Vicky Haastrup, said that it would be impossible to handle transshipment cargoes for Nigeria’s landlocked neighbouring countries, saying that it was not a commercially viable venture.
She noted that except the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) would subsidise the landlocked country’s transactions at Nigeria’s seaports, no STOAN members would have anything to do with landlocked countries’ cargoes.
The chairman explained that the price, which NPA charged Chad and Niger Republic for handling of their consignments was ridiculously low and not commercially tenable.
Haastrup said that the terms and conditions under which NPA handled transshipment cargoes in the pre-port concession era were not favourable to them.
According to her, “NPA as a government agency was probably playing the normal ‘big brother’ to neighbouring African countries but we are private people, we cannot do such a Father Christmas for anybody. If the landlocked countries are ready to pay the normal rates in cargo handling, we will be very willing to do business with them.”
However, Bello said that under the Nigeria-Niger Joint Commission, the shippers Council had made moves to encourage Niger Republic economic operators to utilise the Nigerian transit corridor for their imports and exports.
He noted that NSC had discussed with Chad at the recent United African Shippers Council (UASC) conference held in Ghana on how to regain the cargoes.
Notwithstanding the security challenges in the North, Bello said that Chad had resolved to transit its cargoes through Nigerian port.

Last line
Government should employ diplomatic approach to woo back the landlocked countries in order to regain the annual three million tons of cargoes lost to other ports.

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Business

Telecoms’ GDP leaps to 1.8% growth

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From a decline of -3.28 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate in Nigeria’s telecommunications sub-sector jumped to 1.8 per cent in the first quarter of this year, New Telegraph has learnt.

This, according to latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), shows a general improvement in the Information and Communication sector.

The telecoms and information services, which come under the Information and Communication sector in the NBS’ categorisation of economic activities, had in the last three quarters recorded negative growth rate as it fell by 1.9 per cent in second quarter 2017. In the third quarter of same year, it also went down by -5.68 per cent. By fourth quarter, the sector still went down by -3.28, even at the time when the overall GDP growth rate of the country looked positive.

However, the telecoms sector has shown remarkable signs of growth since the beginning of this year as subscriber data continue to surge.

Analysis of active mobile subscriptions in the first three months of the year shows that the telecom operators added 4.2 million subscribers within the period. Data subscriptions on the four GSM networks also crossed the 100 million mark in January and have maintained a steady growth.

The Information and Communication sector is composed of the four activities of Telecommunications and Information Services; Publishing; Motion Picture, Sound Recording and Music Production and Broadcasting. In nominal terms, the first quarter of 2018 saw the sector grow by 1.79 per cent (year-on-year) , a 7.25 per cent points decrease from the rate of 9.04 per cent recorded in the same quarter of 2017. However, it is 2.34 per cent points higher than rate recorded in the preceding quarter. The quarter-on-quarter growth rate was 3.58 per cent. The Information and Communications sector contributed 10.64 per cent to total Nominal GDP in the 2018 first quarter, lower than the rate of 11.43 per cent recorded in the same quarter of 2017 but higher than the 10.04 per cent it contributed in the preceding quarter.

The sector, in the first quarter of 2018, recorded a growth rate of 1.58 per cent in real terms, year-on-year. From the rate recorded in the corresponding period of 2017, there was a decline by 1.15 per cent points. Quarter on quarter, the sector exhibited a growth of –4.15 per cent in real terms. Of total real GDP, the sector contributed 12.41 per cent in 2018 first quarter, lower than in the same quarter of the previous year in which it represented 12.46 per cent but higher than the preceding quarter, in which it represented 11.35 per cent.

Analysts see the growth rate as a positive sign of more economic activities in the sector, leading to job creations and increased contribution to the economy.

Citing the NBS statistics, Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta recently disclosed that the telecoms sector in the first quarter of 2017 contributed N1.45 trillion to the GDP, adding that in the second quarter, the figure rose to N1.549 trillion.

“This performance at a period of recession is very remarkable,” he said. “We are keeping dates with the NBS to identify and track how these trends progress. On the aggregate, the telecoms industry’s contribution to GDP in Nigeria stands at 10 per cent.

“But the figures may not tell the entire story. Investments in the sector, in human and material resources, have continued to soar. In 2001, the telecom sector could boast of a mere $50 million worth of investments but as at September 2017, we have investments worth $70 billion. The Value Added Services (VAS), segment of the telecom market in Nigeria today is worth $200 million and is estimated to grow to $500 million by 2021. The industry has provided both direct and indirect employment opportunities, accentuated growth and expansion.”

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Business

Reps probe Pencom over alleged financial mismanagement

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The House of Representatives has resolved to investigate the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) over alleged reckless financial management of retirees’ funds and infraction on the public procurement Law. The House has consequently mandated its committee on public procurement and pensions to carry out a comprehensive investigation on alleged monumental fraud ongoing at the commission.

 

The decision followed the passage of a motion sponsored by Hon. Zakariya Galadima on the “need to investigate the alleged violation of provisions of the public procurement Act and financial mismanagement by the National Pension Commission (PENCOM)” During debate, the legislators faulted the commission over several financial infractions as against the principles and objectives of the provisions of the Pension Reform Act, which required the commission to collect and utilize fees, levies and penalties prudently in accordance with its regulatory and compliance roles. For instance, part of the 2014 Act authorizes PENCOM to invest the retiree funds in order to generate revenue but the lawmakers are worried that such investments powers of the agency have been grossly eroded by financial abuses.

 

In his lead debate, Galadima faulted the agency over several financial mismanagement while expressing worry that PENCOM engaged in fraudulent practice by investing N1billion into Aso Savings and Loans Plc under its investments portfolio at a ridiculously low interest rates and further directed Aso to lend the money to MGSL Mortgage Bank Limited where a top PENCOM management staff has interest.

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Business

Confectionery firm hosts BBNaija ex-housemates

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Infusion Cakes & Cafe, a Lagos-based confectionery firm, has hosted ex-housemates of the reality TV show, Big Brother Nigeria (BBNaija), in a meet and greet session in Lagos recently.

Founder and chief executive of Infusion Cakes & Cafe, Mrs. Ibigbeye Okobi, in a statement, said the company decided to host the BBNaija ex-housemates because: “We really enjoyed the free spirit they exhibited, how natural they were and how they were able to get Nigerians to actually get engaged in everything they did while in the house.”

Okobi said the management of Infusion Cakes & Cafe also felt that the location of the company in the highbrow Lekki area of Lagos would serve as an excellent platform for Nigerians who were keen to meet the ex-housemates, get to know and interact with them in a friendly and hospitable environment to really appreciate them.

Infusion Cakes & Cafe is a modern bakery and cafe where customers can get a combination of international and locally made cakes, coffee, pastries and desserts for refreshment, weddings and special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries, among others.

The highlight of the event was a competition for the decoration of cakes. Participants in the competition included the reigning Miss Nigeria, Miss Mildred Peace Ehiguese; one of the BBNaija ex-housemates, Anto; and a representative of Team Definition, a band of musical artistes which entertained guests at the session.

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