Eight months to the end of 2018, there are strong indications that Nigeria would not meet its 30 per cent broadband penetration target in the year. New Telegraph gathered that failure of government to remove some of the obstacles to fast broadband deployment highlighted in the five year-plan unveiled in 2013 has been the bane of the target. In the plan, the government had listed multiple taxation and Right of Way as some of the key obstacles and also highlighted steps it would take to remove all the impediments in the course of implementing the five-year plan. However, operators are still facing same challenges as at today and solutions seems not to be at sight. With penetration currently put at 22 per cent, stakeholders are worried that the country might not move beyond that point this year as operators are getting choked with multiple taxation and high cost of Right of Way.
The feeling among the stakeholders is that the government does not really understand the bigger picture of what ubiquitous broadband would mean for the nation’s economy, hence, it is not being given serious attention. According to the Chief Executive Officer of Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN), Mr Rudman Muhammed, Nigerian government has not taken the issue of broadband with economic outlook. “With what we are seeing currently in the country with different kinds of these taxes being imposed on telcos and some state governments even shutting down base stations, I don’t think we can achieve 30 per cent broadband penetration this year.” he said.
Muhammed added that the fragmented system of government in the country would also make it difficult to have a unified tax regime that would enable operators plan for their infrastructure rollout. “Currently, an operator can’t really predict how much he has to pay to lay cable in a particular area because states charge differently and for different things from the genuine to the ridiculous. But the problem is that you go to one state, they have this and that taxes, the other states have other taxes and that is why we are currently having 38 different taxes imposed on telecom operators across the states. Some are even charging for the generator fumes,” he noted.
The IXPN chief said for the country to achieve the target, there must be government policy to reverse the current trend of multiple taxation and remove all obstacles to Right of Way to create the enabling environment for the operators. Mohammed lamented that all states in the country were only looking at how they can shore up their internally generated revenue from the telcos, without knowing that they are depriving the people of huge economic tool.
“For us to move forward, the state, local and Federal Governments and the regulators and all stakeholders need to come together to harmonise all the taxes and laws that we have to make them suitable for the telcos and to make them acceptable for all those stakeholder so that by the time you start, everybody is in agreement. “For example, if they harmonise the cost of right of way and eliminate certain taxes so that wherever you go in the country, same thing is applicable, operators would be able to deploy faster. We need to come together and solve this problem for the common good of Nigerians,” he said
Tincan Customs chief to implement 48-hour cargo clearance
Customs Area Controller (CAC), Tin Can Island Port Command, Musa Baba Abdullahi has reiterated the command’s unshaken commitment to achieve 48hour cargo clearance from the port without compromising revenue collection and national security.
The customs chief said efforts are being put in place to maximise benefits of technology and build the command’s manpower to meet with the growing challenges of modern trade.
While addressing maritime journalists in his Apapa office, Musa identified swift dispute resolution as a key component to facilitate trade. He said the command has put in place a faster mechanism to address any area of disagreement in interpretations of guidelines for duty collection and other related matters.
He added that a committee put in place for disputes resolution meets as soon as any dispute arises to avoid port users incurring costs caused as a result of delays in resolving such disputes.
According to him, there is a quicker process of bringing issues to his attention and contacting the headquarters where necessary to avoid delays associated with such disagreements. He said the command has stepped up efforts at keeping officers and relevant stakeholders abreast with the use of technology for the purpose of customs operations.
The Controller disclosed that senior officers and licensed customs agents are being trained at the command’s Information Communication Technology (ICT) Centre on the latest Nigeria Customs Information System (NICIS 2) in batches.
Musa said the training and retraining of customs personnel and stakeholders will continue with a view to getting as many persons as possible knowledgeable in the workings of the system.
He also stressed the need for all stakeholders to increase their levels of compliance with rules and improve on their knowledge as ways of achieving seamless flow of trade thereby achieving faster clearance of goods from the port.
The Controller also advised the maritime media to uphold the ethics of their profession and be fair and truthful in all they do.
Early rainfall to boost Nigeria’s cocoa mid-crop
Nigeria’s mid-crop cocoa output for 2017/18 could rise by 15 per cent from last season, helped by a mix of rainfall and sunshine in the main growing regions which has helped the trees, President of Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN) Sayina Riman said in a recent interview with Bloomberg.
Drought cut last season’s mid-crop harvest by 40 per cent. The dry weather continued into the main crop of the new season.
Riman said the drought affected the trees, reducing output of between 300,000 tonnes and 320,000 tonnes projected at the beginning of the 2017/18 season.
He said that early rains in March and April have helped boost the mid-crop, which could see the season’s output close at around 290,000.
Riman farms on a 170 hectare cocoa plantation in Nigeria’s second-biggest region of Cross Rivers.
The cocoa season in Nigeria runs from October to September, with an October-to-February main crop and a smaller light or mid-crop that begins in April or May and runs through September.
“Despite the drought of last year which affected cocoa we believe we would be close to 290,000 tonnes for 2017/18 season,” Riman told Reuters.
The International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO), however, gives much lower estimates of Nigerian cocoa output. It forecast last season’s production at 225,000 tonnes.
Riman did not give a reason for the discrepancy. Nigerian government production figures are also significantly higher than ICCO estimates.
Nigeria has recently emerged from recession and a currency crisis which caused a chronic dollar shortage, forcing exporters to under-invoice their goods in order to use the foreign exchange black market to get premium for their hard currency.
The action caused the West African country slip to the sixth producer of cocoa in the world at the peak of the crisis. Riman said Nigeria was getting back to number four grower as exporters now use the official currency markets.
Riman said Nigeria was working on improving its bean quality especially with renewed demand from Europe.
However, bean count, a measure of the number of beans needed to produce 100 grams of cocoa, reached as high as 140 for the main crop.
Rising Nigerian bonds drags yields down
Nigeria’s local-currency bonds are on a roll, rising for the last eight days and driving their yields below Turkey’s for the first time in more than two years.
The average rate on Nigerian government bonds has fallen around 400 basis since an August-peak to 13 per cent. Yields are now 100 basis points below the Central Bank of Nigeria’s benchmark interest rate of 14 per cent, where its been held since July 2016.
Investors have piled into the naira market thanks to slowing inflation, a stable currency and rising Brent crude prices, which climbed about 25 per cent in the past six months to more than $70 a barrel. In contrast, they’ve turned bearish on Turkey, which has the worst-performing local bonds in emerging markets this year, because of accelerating inflation and loose monetary policy.
Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, may be tempted to commence his long-touted easing cycle and help revive the economy that has faltered since the 2014 oil crash. While that would reduce the attractiveness of naira assets, Nigerian yields are still high relative to other major emerging markets. Aside from Turkey, Argentina and Egypt’s bonds are the only ones to yield more in the Bloomberg Barclays EM Local Currency Index.
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