From the maintenance of its aircraft in-house, the Federal Government has saved over $800,000 (N228 million) as Nigeria’s flag carrier airline, Aero Contractor, said it handled the repairs of its two Boeing 737- 500 by deploying its facilities. Besides, the airline, which is at the verge of stabilisation, has equally extended its technical capacity to other airlines. Disclosing this to New Telegraph at the weekend, the Managing Director of Aero Contractors, Capt. Ado Sanusi, said that the in-house maintenance of its aircraft saved the airline over 60 per cent of the cost of doing same maintenance overseas. Aero’s first successful Ccheck on a Boeing 737-500 aircraft late last year has become a game changer for the aviation industry.
The development will save local carriers at least N9.2 billion from the N36 billion operators spend yearly taking their airplanes overseas. The slash (N305 million per aircraft) offers a lifeline to struggling airlines. And with repairs done locally and paid for in naira, pressure would be eased off foreign exchange. A C-check is a complex exercise that strips an airplane bare for detailed inspection of most of its parts and lasts three to eight weeks. Commercial planes are mandated to undergo the procedure every 18 months.
The absence of a functional Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility in the country, at least in the last 17 years, was responsible for between N14.3 and N28.6 billion being spent by local airlines on yearly repairs overseas. Speaking on efforts to bring back six of the airline’s grounded aircraft, the airline chief disclosed that there were six airplanes owned by the carrier.
His words: “We have managed to bring back two. We managed to get rid of two of them. We had a meeting today with Jeraco to finalise the last two. We have three aircraft; two are operational, one is under C-check. One is coming in from France in the next four weeks. “I believe that towards May, we shall have four aeroplanes fully functional. We are going to bring them back into the country.
We will condition them and ferry them back into the country. We have three aircraft; two are operational, one will be operational in the next three weeks and one is under C-check now and one is coming in from France in the next three, four weeks. We should have four aircraft operational, three Boeing and one Q3- 400,” he added. Asked if venturing into MRO won’t be a distraction to the carrier, Sanusi stated that it was not, describing it as it is complimentary.
“Why I said so is this. I have an airplane that needs maintenance and I have maintenance organisation. That was what I was saying at the conference. Because I have built my infrastructure based on the maintenance organisation not based on number of aircraft, so, I would have a lot of staff that would be redundant if the airplane is only one or two. But if I now put them to work for third parties, they would make money and they are kept in employment, meaning that my airplane would be serviced all the time.
It is actually complimentary and not distraction.” Sanusi stated that Nigeria would be saving a lot of foreign exchange, time and creating jobs by repairing their equipment in the country, stressing that it would also help by contributing to the economy. “I just gave 70 Nigerians jobs. Next week or next month, by the time we now solidify six C-checks that we know that will happen in a year, I will give 40 more work to people. If I know that in the entire year am going to have 12 C-Checks, I can take up to 120 engineers and they work 24/7. That means I am creating jobs to people and contributing to the economy of the nation,” he added.
$90m capital: Ghanaian banks seek deadline extension
While Nigerian banks operating in Ghana have announced their readiness to comply with GHC400 million (about$90 million) Minimum Capital Requirement (MCR) introduced by the Bank of Ghana (BOG), the 10 indigenous banks in that country have asked President Nana Akufo-Addo, to urge the BOG and the Economic Management Team (EMT) to give them five years to comply, according to reports from the West African nation.
Following a vote by the EMT, chaired by Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, Ghana’ s Central Bank announced last September that all 34 banks in the country had up to December 31, 2018 to increase their minimum capital from GHC120 million to GHC400 million.
Some of the country’s big foreign banks, including Nigerian lenders, such as Zenith Bank, UBA, GTB and Access Bank, have announced that they are ready to comply with the requirement ahead of the deadline, but the smaller banks, mostly the indigenous ones, are asking for more time otherwise they face either eventual collapse, buy outs by foreign banks or mergers that will reduce local stake in the financial industry.
The 10 indigenous universal banks are Prudential Bank, Royal Bank, Unibank, Beige Bank, OmniBank and GN Bank. Others are Sovereign Bank, Heritage Bank, Premium Bank, and Construction Bank.
In their 11-page petition to the country’s President, the indigenous banks stated that they were willing to meet the new capital requirement but that the BOG should not have given them same deadline as the bigger banks.
They argued that on previous occasions when MCR was raised, indigenous banks were given an average of four years to comply.
For instance, according to them, when BoG raised MCR in 2003 and 2008, lenders were given almost four years and five years respectively, to comply. They further noted that at other times, the payment period was even flexible for existing banks, while new entrants were required to comply immediately.
The indigenous banks have therefore proposed a payment schedule of annual installments over a period of five years ending 2022 when they would each have finished paying the GHC400 million.
In that schedule, they proposed that by December 2018, they will raise MCR to GHC170 million each; December 2019, GHC220 million; December 2020, GHC280 million; December 2021, GHC340 million the the final install to make up the GHC400 million will be done by December 2022.
While the petition of the indigenous lenders is still before the president and a committee has been set to take a look at their plea, the BOG Governor and his lieutenants have said their decision is final.
They cited poor corporate governance practices at several of the indigenous banks, leading to the collapse of two, takeover of two by the apex bank, noting that there is indeed speculation of even others facing grave liquidation problems.
The central bank is therefore suggesting the smaller banks should either go into mergers or roll back into lower tier financial service companies to bring some sanity into the banking sector.
Fidelity Bank mulls SMEs’ funding fair
Fidelity Bank Plc has disclosed plans to organize SMEs funding fair that will help galvanize finance for the growth and development of the sector of the economy.
The Managing Director, Fidelity Bank Plc, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo, said this at the 25th edition of Fidelity Bank SME Forum on Inspiration FM in Lagos.
He said the platform will bring together providers of finance other than the traditional banking institutions.
“The Fidelity SMEs funding fair we will be announcing soon is just a platform to bring together providers of finance other than the traditional banking institutions,@ he said.
“It is going to be like a market place where a lot of SMEs that don’t have access to finance will meet people who are also looking for viable SMEs supports.
“So we will be providing details when we are ready to launch it sometime in September but we have to mention it today at the SMEs forum because it is like a culmination of all that we have been doing in SMEs.
“We have done capacity building, we have done training, we have done export promotion. Now it is time for us to begin to provide a market place where SMEs can access finance apart from traditional financial sources.”
He noted that the bank believe about half a billion naira will be made available the funding agencies to fund the SMEs.
Speaking on the impact of the forum, the MD said: “It is amazing how many listen to the show, it gladdens my heart, you can’t beat the practical experience. A lot of people have gotten a lot of business solutions according to feedback we are getting”.
Union Bank introduces Robotics to power banking operations
In a novel move which sets it apart from its counterparts in the Nigerian banking industry, Union Bank has announced the deployment of the innovative Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology in its operations; a first in the Nigerian Banking industry.
The new technology was officially launched at an interactive session which took place at the Bank’s Stallion Plaza Head office in Lagos with technology experts, pressmen, customers and the Bank’s Management and employees in attendance.
RPA technology makes use of robots which are software tools developed to simplify business process delivery. The software robots offer improved business efficiency and data security by automating repetitive tasks across multiple business applications without altering existing infrastructure and systems.
Announcing the deployment of the new technology, the Chief Executive Officer of Union Bank,
Emeka Emuwa, said: “We are quite pleased to be the first in the banking industry in Nigeria to introduce robotics into our processes. The provision of simpler, smarter banking services to our valued customers is at the core of our business and Robotics Process Automation helps us achieve this objective by leveraging cutting edge technology and innovative partnerships. I commend the hard work and dedication of our Union Bank team for the effective execution of this project.”
In a statement, the Bank said its adoption of RPA technology is expected to enhance staff productivity, reduce process turnaround time and improve accuracy and compliance, adding that with the new technology in place, employees are better able to focus on other value adding and customer related functions, significantly improving the overall quality of customer experience.
It further disclosed that in the first phase of the Bank’s RPA implementation, reconciliation of Automated Teller Machine (ATM) transactions are now fully automated, cutting down processing time by over 60% and ensuring that refunds on ATM fund dispense errors are promptly and efficiently carried out.
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