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News Economy (30)

Leading management consulting firm, Phillips Consulting Limited (PCL), has transformed the financial technology sector by introducing cutting-edge technology, Intellect Digital Core Banking Solution, to Nigeria.
 
Phillips Consulting collaborated with Intellect Design Arena Limited, a global leading company that offers services in Financial Technology for Banking, Insurance and other Financial Services. This collaborative banking solution will no doubt revolutionize the Nigerian banking industry.
 
Intellect Digital Core banking solution is a comprehensive, integrated, yet modular and agile business solution, addressing all core banking needs. It is designed to help banks accelerate their digital banking and channel transformation journey. Intellect Digital Core comes with a Digital 360 proposition with an inbuilt design for both Digital Outside and Digital Inside. Digital Outside ensures true Omni-channel and consistency of customer experience at all touch points while Digital Inside drives operational excellence. In addition, it provides all the building blocks of business functionality, enabling users to flexibly configure products and processes in order to adapt to a dynamic environment.
 
Through this partnership with Intellect Design Arena, Phillips Consulting builds local capacity by playing an integral role in the joint implementation and on-going support of Intellect Digital Core in Nigeria.
 
Speaking on the Core Banking Solution, the Managing Director of Phillips Consulting, Mr. Robert Taiwo, explained the benefits of Intellect Digital Core. “In banking, the digital discourse has shifted from ‘nice to have’, to critical business imperative. Market share will increasingly swing to those banks that can quickly and effectively respond to technology advancements. The ability to grapple with 4.0 technologies such as AI, Big Data, Robotics and Blockchain, will differentiate the leaders from followers. Superior interconnectivity and system integration will enhance customer-centricity and this by default will accelerate first mover advantage.” He added “But technology must not become the end in itself. “Me too” strategies will not be effective. CEOs must, therefore, drive business aligned digital strategies which speak directly to the operating models and value propositions of their respective organisations.”
 
Although the Intellect Digital Core Banking Platform is new to Nigeria, a new age bank recently implemented it.
 
Further discussing the core banking solution, Senior Partner at Phillips Consulting, Mr. Seun Ngonnase explained, “In today’s world, banks require a single, seamlessly integrated global payments system for domestic and cross-border transactions. This system must eliminate manual tasks and enhance interoperability. Implementing Intellect’s Core Banking platform will save time and money for the bank while providing value-added services to their customers. The whole idea is based on the concept of Contextual Banking; customers should bank in the way they want to and how they want to.”
 
Intellect Design Arena – a global leader in Financial Technology for Banking, Insurance and other Financial Services. A uniquely focused Products business, Intellect addresses the needs of financial institutions in varying stages of technology adoption.
 
Intellect’s robust iDigital platform enables products across four distinct lines of businesses: Global Consumer Banking (iGCB), Risk, Treasury & Markets (iRTM), Global Transaction Banking (iGTB), Central Banking and Insurance (Intellect SEEC). Deep banking domain expertise coupled with investments of Rs 800 Crores over the last ten years in developing the world’s first full spectrum of banking products has made Intellect the company with the most advanced technologies for financial institutions with global businesses.
 
As leaders in strategy, execution and transformation are at the core of what Phillips Consulting does. The company’s digital and technology transformation practice supports clients in driving strategic business change across its operating model. Fundamentally reshaping the way products and services are delivered.
 
 
Source: NAN
An update received from the office of the Vice President of Nigeria on the state of foreign investment inflow into the economy has indicated that about $83.9 billion worth of investments were announced between January 2017 and the end of the first quarter of 2018, Q1’18. Osinbajo The report titled, “2018 Making Business Work”, evaluated government’s efforts in improving the business environment in Nigeria and was presented to the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, by the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat in the Vice President’s office during the monthly meeting of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC). 
 
A breakdown of capital investments as contained in the report showed that in 2017, over $66 billion worth of investments were announced, comprising 112 projects across 27 states and the FCT Abuja, while an additional $17.9 billion worth of investments were announced in quarter 1 of 2018, as actual capital importation stood at $6.3 billion, representing over six times the value in the first quarter of 2017, Q1’17. 
 
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, who unfolded the report yesterday, stated that measurable progress has been recorded on multiple fronts as the economy responds to key government interventions particularly in the areas of economic growth, inflation, foreign exchange & external reserves, capital market, investment, infrastructure and social investment programmes. Looking at the journey so far, according to him, the report indicated that under economic growth, the rigorous implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP, led the economy out of a recession in 2017; it grew to 0.83 percent, up from -1.58 percent recorded in 2016, on the back of improvements in agriculture, industry and trade. It further stated that the economy has registered four consecutive quarters of steady growth. 
 
In the first quarter of 2018, the economy grew 1.95 percent and is projected to grow by up to 3.0 percent over the year, driven by stronger oil prices, stable production, increased non-oil output and improved foreign exchange availability. The report also indicated that for the first time in Nigeria, under the competitiveness section of the ERGP, soft infrastructure is expressly recognized as a deliberate strategy to attain economic development through the facilitation of an enabling business environment for businesses to thrive. 
 
The report specifically recognized government’s efforts in improving the effectiveness of soft infrastructure such as the financial system; the education system; health care system; the system of government; law enforcement; and emergency service. According to the report, “Nigeria’s reforms have so far seen it successfully move 24 places up the World Bank Ease of Doing Business rankings. Overall, in the current reform cycle, the PEBEC focused on three pillars to accelerate and expand the impact of completed reforms. 
 
The focus will be on deepening existing reforms. Complete pending initiatives and ensure implementation of completed reforms launched in 2017, including communication and consequence management, as well as making the reforms sustainable.” On inflation, the report indicated that the pressure on prices is easing and inflation fell 16 consecutive months from 18.72 percent in January 2017 to 11.60 percent in May 2018.
 
 
 
Source: Vanguard
The Federal Government’s economic reforms to attract investments in 2017 and the first quarter of 2018 is said to yield over 83.9 billion dollars.
 
Mr Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, in a statement on Wednesday, said the figure was given in the 2018 Making Business Work report.
 
He said the report was presented to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on July 31 by the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat, during the monthly meeting of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC).
 
On capital investments, Akande said over 66 billion dollar worth of investments comprising 112 projects across 27 states and the FCT Abuja were announced in 2017.
 
He said an additional 17.9 billion dollars worth of investments were announced in quarter one of 2018, as actual capital importation stood at 6.3 billion dollars, representing over six times the value in quarter one of 2017.
 
Akande explained that measurable progress had been recorded in multiple fronts as the economy responded to key government interventions especially in, foreign exchange and external reserves, capital market, infrastructure and social investment programmes.
 
“Looking at the journey so far, the report indicated that under economic growth, the rigorous implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) led the economy out of a recession in 2017.
 
“It grew to 0.83per cent, up from -1.58per cent recorded in 2016, on the back of improvements in agriculture, industry and trade.
 
“Akande said the economy has registered four consecutive quarters of steady growth.
 
“In the first quarter of 2018, the economy grew 1.95per cent and is projected to grow by up to three per cent over the year.
 
“”Also for the first time in Nigeria, under the competitiveness section of ERGP, soft infrastructure is recognised as a deliberate strategy to attain economic development,’’ Akande quoted the report as saying.
 
Akande said the report recognised government’s efforts in improving the effectiveness of the system of government, financial, educational, health care, law enforcement systems in the country.
 
He said: “”Nigeria’s reforms have so far seen it successfully move 24 places up the World Bank Ease of Doing Business rankings.
 
“”Overall, in the current reform cycle, the PEBEC focused on three pillars to accelerate and expand the impact of completed reforms.
 
“”It will focus on deepening existing reforms, complete pending initiatives and ensure implementation of completed reforms launched in 2017, including communication and consequence management, as well as making the reforms sustainable.”
 
On inflation, Akande said the pressure on prices had eased and inflation fell 16 consecutive months from 18.72per cent in Jan. 2017 to 11.60per cent in May 2018.
 
He said the capital market recorded an outstanding performance in 2017.
 
He said the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE) All-Share Index rallied 42per cent and emerged the third-best performing exchange in the world in 2017 (after the USA and Argentina).
 
Akande expressed optimism that the PEBEC would in 2018/2019, continue to improve public service delivery and the business environment for MSMEs.
 
He said:“ “Nigeria must improve its ranking by 45 places in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index over the next two years to achieve its goal of attaining the top 100 by 2020.
 
““Such an ambitious goal requires accelerated and focused execution and the National Action Plan 6.0 (NAP 6.0) and Executive Order 01 (EO1) have laid the foundations.
 
“”Also, government must institutionalise all efforts and work closely with the private sector to deliver an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.”
 
He further said the PEBEC, in the second half of 2018 and into 2019, would focus primarily on regulators, an Omnibus Bill on business facilitation, and consolidating gains for the economy.
 
This, he said would be done through deepening of the Subnational Ease of Doing Business project.
 
 
Source: NAN
To get the new national carrier off its feet, the Federal Government will be injecting about N3.168billion ($8.8million) as the startup capital for Nigeria Air.
 
The provision, among others, is contained in the Outline Business Case (OBC) recently approved by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) and currently before the Federal Executive Council for approval.
 
Meanwhile, airlines operators have expressed concerns over governments’ funding of the airlines and the high likelihood of interference in its operations that ordinarily should run as a private business and compete fairly with other existing airlines.
 
The Guardian gathered that the initial injection of N3.2billion is a part-payment for the government’s five per cent equity in the investment, whose take-off fund in the next three years of operation has been put at N108billion ($300million).
 
Sources at the Ministry of Transportation, contrary to claims, said the $300million is the minimum fund expected from both the public and private investors, of which only five per cent ($15million) is government’s contribution.
 
The director explained that the government is not funding the entire project, but will be offering the startup capital in the form of Viability Gap Funding (VGF).
 
“Once the strategic investor is in place, they will be expecting to build on the initial investment made. The OBC suggested that there is a need to start the business in order to attract credible investors,” the source said.
 
The $300million is the funding requirement for the next three years, beginning 2018 ($55million), 2019 ($100million), and 2020 ($145million).
 
Speaking on the development, the Chief Executive Officer, Med-View Airlines, Muneer Bankole, urged the Federal Government to fully disclose its plans for the general public to know what is in the offing, and warned against injecting public funds into the airline to allow it function and compete as another private carrier.
 
He said: “There is definitely no threat to operators that know their onions, and once they (new airline) operate normally like an airline, everyone will be fine. The only thing is that they should not take off with the government and people’s funds; it should be privately driven.
 
“I want to give them the opportunity to come out and be able to tell everybody the template that is still being talked about in Farnborough. When it comes to this country, we have to sit down and ask questions.”
 
The Chairman, Air Peace Airlines, Allen Onyema, congratulated the Federal Government on the feat, describing it as an avenue to create jobs for Nigerians, and improve capacity for air travel in the country.
 
Onyema, however, said the new carrier has to operate transparently, with regulators giving a level playing field to all operators in a fair competition.
 
He said: “If the airline will be used to frustrate the hard earned successes of existing airlines, then we all will be against it. As at now, Air Peace has acquired four B777, Med-View just got one, and maybe Azman soon. Does it mean that we would be restricted from those 91 routes that Nigeria Air will be flying? I hope not.
 
“We trust Buhari to be a nationalist, and he will not allow us to be forced out of business. That is why the new airline has to be transparent. Government has said it is going to be a private business. It has to operate side-by-side with other airlines. So, if the new airline goes to London, no local airlines should be stopped from the route, once it has the capacity,” Onyema said.
 
The Secretary General, Aviation Safety Round-table Initiative, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), added that the meticulous nature of the programme is quite pleasing and designed in a way that it takes the responsibility of infrastructure maintenance off the government.
 
Ojikutu said: “It is clear that this government does not want to go the way of other people; hence, the plan to concession the airports. National carrier is also to safeguard the market from other foreign carriers, and some of us are in agreement with them.
 
“Like I have said, let government not put its hand in it. Let them get technical partners from outside to invest a minimum of 40 per cent. That is why they are talking to Boeing, and will soon talk to Airbus to come and invest, while Nigerians will take the remaining 60 per cent.
 
“If the aircraft manufacturers bring aircraft today and government goes to the Stock Exchange, Nigerians will come out to invest in the 50 per cent. The remaining 10 per cent can then be between the Federal Government and the states. That is when we will have a national carrier.” he said.
 
 
Source: The Guardian
China would invest 14.7 billion dollars in South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday after talks between the two countries, news that sent the rand one percent firmer.
 
Speaking at the same event, Chinese President Xi Jinping said the world’s second-biggest economy would take active measures to expand imports from South Africa to support development in Africa’s most industrialised economy.
 
Xi arrived South Africa on Monday night for a State visit ahead of the much anticipated 10th BRICS Summit in Sandton.
 
This is Xi’s third visit to South Africa, having visited the country for the 2013 BRICS Summit, and the 2015 Forum on China-Africa Co-operation. Xi made State visits to Senegal and Rwanda before arriving in South Africa.
 
The two presidents engaged in bilateral talks and evaluated progress achieved by the two countries on the Strategic Programme with specific reference to the six priority areas identified in 2015.
 
Those areas include the Alignment of industries to accelerate South Africa’s industrialisation process; Enhancement of co-operation in Special Economic Zones; Enhancement of marine co-operation; Infrastructure development; Human resources co-operation; as well as Financial co-operation.
 
China has been South Africa’s largest trading partner for nine years in a row, and South Africa is China’s largest trading partner in Africa.
 
Two-way trade has reached a historic 39billion dollars, 20 times the volume of that at the onset of official diplomatic relations. Direct Chinese investment in the South African economy has also grown eight fold, reaching 10 billion dollars.
 
While there is a trade imbalance between China and South Africa, both countries have implemented mechanisms to address these discrepancies.
 
 
Source: PMnewsNigeria
Nigeria’s consumer prices rose at the slowest pace in 2 1/2 years in June as food costs climbed the least since March 2016.
 
The annual consumer inflation rate was 11.2 percent from a year earlier, compared with 11.6 percent in May, the Abuja-based National Bureau of Statistics said in an emailed report Monday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey was for 10.9 percent. Prices rose 1.2 percent in the month.
 
The inflation rate fell even as the Nigerian government started releasing funding for its record 2018 budget of 9.12 trillion naira ($25 billion), which some analysts had anticipated would cause prices to rise.
 
Price pressures are still expected to kick in on growing election-related spending ahead of February’s federal and state vote, with President Muhammadu Buhari seeking a second mandate.
 
The central bank’s monetary policy committee will tomorrow announce its decision on its main interest rate, which it has held at 14 percent since July 2016 to curb inflation.
 
The bank targets an inflation rate of 6 percent to 9 percent and has signaled rate cuts when price growth moves closer to this band.
 
Food prices increased 12.98 percent in June from a year earlier, a seventh straight month of deceleration, the agency said.
 
Source: The Router

After 25 years of operations that kicked off in Abuja, the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) said it has mobilised no fewer than $65 billion worth of loan syndications for trade financing and the development of the continent’s economies.

Nigeria, as a major stakeholder and contributor to the pan-African largest multilateral lender, has received about 40 per cent of the bank’s interventions, covering public investments and private sector working capital, particularly, the banks.

Today, while Nigeria and the rest of the African economies are still battling with financing challenges, the question of what it would have been like for the continent, without the emergence of the bank remains at large.

Meanwhile, the bank noted that there is as much as $120 billion in trade finance gap that needs to be closed; yearly $93 billion trade infrastructure gap; and a global trade share at three per cent, that needs to be raised; while Intra-African trade is still far below aspirations.At the weekend, during the yearly meetings of Afreximbank, part of the $65 billion syndications was injected further into Nigeria’s economy, as the Bank of Industry signed for a $750 million facility for on lending to small businesses.

Also, Aliko Dangote, signed a $650 million loan facility with the for an oil refinery project in Lekki, Nigeria, on a seven-year term loan, with five years moratorium.The government received a provision of $1.8 billion to support the economy during the recent oil price shock between 2015 and 2016, while a provision of liquidity and trade finance lines of more than $800 million was made during the banking consolidation when many international banks cut credit lines to the country.

Currently, Afreximbank’s initiatives in Nigeria include the development of testing and inspection centres across the country in collaboration with the Standards Organization of Nigeria; and establishment of a Centre of Excellence for Tertiary Healthcare/Medical Park.There is ongoing talks to participate in the Nigeria SEZ Investment Company Limited being promoted by the government; the support for industrial projects through loans to strategic banks; provision of trade and letter of credit lines to all Nigerian banks, in close coordination with Central Bank of Nigeria; and development of an Afreximbank Africa Trade Centre in Abuja.

The bank’s President, Dr. Benedict Oramah, told The Guardian that the emergence of the bank was in reaction to challenge by an unprecedented debt crisis that ravaged the continent like a plague those days and as a child of necessity, was conceived for Africa and by Africans and now effectively delivered by Africans.So far, the bank has provided over $50 billion, granted in support of trade and project activities across Africa, supported the emergence of world class hotels across the continent, including upscaling facilities in Island economies like Cape Verde and Seychelles.

The bank prevented the implosion of Zimbabwe by providing an aggregate of about $4 billion to avert hunger and support critical businesses when virtually all international banks cut off the country.“Who would today have stepped in to provide trade services lines in excess of 4 billion to about 500 banks across Africa so that no country can be denied access to trade finance as a result of high compliance cost?

“Who would have supported connectivity among African markets by leveraging close to $3 billion in support of African airline operations?“How would some indigenous Nigerian entities have been able to acquire oil production acreages if the Bank had not stand by them?“Who would have financed the creation of at least 130 thousand metric tonnes of cocoa processing capacity in Cote d’Ivoire and revived processing plants in other major producing countries, namely Ghana and Nigeria?“Who would have provided $9 billion to a number of African central banks and commercial banks at the height of the commodity price induced crises of 2014-16?” he queried.Oramah said Afreximbank is powering the Collective Will of the Continent to boost intra-regional trade and export manufacturing and now about to launch a pan-African payment and settlement platform in support of intra-African trade.

Already, there are SMEs operating in export supply chains with hopes of improved access to finance as a result of the bank’s efforts to promote factoring, such that from almost nothing, Africa can today boast of 32 factoring companies sharing in near trillion dollar global market.President Muhammadu Buhari, while declaring open the bank’s yearly meetings, in Abuja, at the weekend, commended Afreximbank’s strategy in the continent through its dynamism and tenacious leadership, saying the lender had proved that Africans could come together to build something meaningful.

While delivering his keynote address, he said that those attributes had enabled the bank to record the successes so far since its establishment 25 years ago.He noted that the bank’s efforts to integrate Africa through its African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), is already undergoing a careful review, with several consultations to get the inputs of the nation’s diversed professionals, entrepreneurs and investors.South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, who attested to the portents of AfCFTA, being driven by Afreximbank, when adopted, would provide the integrated and diversified markets that will unlock Africa’s full productive capacity.He lamented that “intra-African trade is only 15 per cent of Africa’s total trade, compared to Europe’s 67 per cent and we need a sustained strategic shift to industrialisation, increased Intra-African trade, and de-commoditisation through increased value addition and export diversification.”

Afreximbank’s Chief Economist, Dr. Hippolyte Fofack, said: “The AFCFTA must emphasise policies promoting export diversification for each member country. In addition, efforts must be increased to motivate more technology-intensive manufactured goods.“Given the current average technology and skill content in Intra-African trade, the AFCFTA seems to be well positioned to help achieve and deliver more technology-intensive manufactured goods.”

The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, said that continued infrastructure improvements and a focus on trade, particularly regional trade, would drive sustainable growth.Adeosun commended Afreximbank for its role during the last global recession when it supported many African countries with trade support and lines of credit at a time when others were withdrawing from Africa.

Credit: The Guardian

Persistent price depreciation in the shares of most highly capitalised firms on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), yesterday dragged the All-share index further by 0.07 per cent.
Specifically, at the close of transactions yesterday, the All-Share Index (NSE-ASI) shed 26.81 absolute points, representing a decline of 0.07 per cent to close at 37,226.44 points.
Also, the market capitalisation declined by N10billion to close at N13.485trillion.The decline was occasioned by losses recorded in medium and large capitalised stocks, amongst which are; Beta Glass, Forte Oil, Nigerian Breweries, Dangote Sugar, and GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Nigeria.
 
Analysts at Afrinvest Limited said: “As highlighted, we continue to see some late bargain hunting in the market, albeit, insufficient to upturn market performance. Hence, we expect to see a similar trend in today’s trading activity.”
 
Market breadth closed negative, with 15 gainers versus 30 losers. Custodian and Allied Insurance recorded the highest price gain of 8.45 per cent to close at N6.80 per share. International Breweries gained 5.61 per cent to close at N40.50.
 
Multiverse Mining and Exploration appreciated by five per cent to close at 21kobo per share.Vitafoam Nigeria added by 4.52 per cent to close at N3.24, while Japaul Oil & Maritime Services gained 3.03 per cent to close at 34kobo per share.
 
On the other hand, Beta Glass led the losers’ chart by 10 per cent, to close at N81 per share. Tantalizers followed with a decline of 9.09 per cent to close at 30kobo, while McNichols shed 8.99 per cent to close at 81kobo, per share.
 
Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) declined by 7.25 per cent to close at N3.71, and Honeywell Flour shed 6.37 per cent to close at N1.91 per share.However, the total volume traded rose by 22.08 per cent to 350.47 million shares worth N4.6billion traded in 3,228 deals. Transactions in the shares of NAHCO topped the activity chart with 88.13 million shares valued at N483.47million. Access Bank followed with 42.87 million shares worth N428.75million, while Zenith Bank traded 40.84 million shares at N980.23million.
Sovereign Trust Insurance traded 33.77 million shares valued at N7million, while International Breweries transacted 20.95 million shares worth N777.03million.
  
 
Source: The Guardian
The Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru, has said that Nigeria will rely on Nigerian Gas Processing and Transportation Company (NGPTC), a subsidiary of the NNPC, to deliver a 614km Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas pipeline project.
 
The project, expected to be executed with about $3 billion, includes other key projects that will see the country expending over $38.5 billion on oil, petroleum products and natural gas pipelines between 2018 and 2022, according to data company, GlobalData.
 
Speaking on the sidelines of the 2017 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the company, Baru, who also functioned as the chairman of the AGM, said the corporation was relying on the NGPTC’s competence to deliver the 614km Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas pipeline project.
 
He said apart from the AKK gas project, the company was also busy putting together new pipelines like the OB3 projected to come into operation later in the year alongside other significant gas pipeline projects across the length and breadth of the country designed as an integral part of the bigger trans-Nigerian gas pipeline system.
 
The NNPC boss commended the management and members of staff of the company for recording a profit after tax of N6.11 billion in its first year of operation under the new structure.
 
He said the NNPC management was looking forward to a bright future for NGTPC as it continued to show great promise and positive performance despite operating in an environment laden with incessant pipeline vandalism and condensate evacuation challenges.
 
Chief Operating Officer, Gas and Power and Chairman of the NGPTC Board, Saidu Mohammed, said the NGPTC was focused on consolidating on its strength and grow to bigger levels, noting that by 2019, the company would have leapfrogged into the big league with most of its ongoing gas infrastructure projects coming on stream.
 
Also, Managing Director of the company, Babatunde Bakare, said the 2017 AGM result showcases the corporation’s resolve to align with the prime objective of the Federal Government to harness the nation’s gas resources for the overall benefit of the Nigerian economy.
 
In another development, the Minna Depot of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in Pogo, near Minna in Niger State, was gutted by fire yesterday.
 
The fire, which started exactly at 11.00 a.m., created panic along the ever-busy Minna-Paiko road, leaving commuters stranded.
 
A resident of the area, Malam Ibrahim Paiko, who spoke with The Guardian in Minna, said the leakage started since Saturday but the scooping by the boys started around 2.00 a.m. yesterday.
 
According to him: “When the leakage started early this morning, it ran through the gutters which made black marketers scoop from it.
 
Besides, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the NSCDC, Malam Ibrahim Yahaya, who spoke with The Guardian, said: “For now, we have not been able to ascertain whether there is any casualty.”
 
Also, the Director-General, Niger State Emergency Management Agency (NSEMA), Ahmed Ibrahim Inga, who confirmed the incident, said: “We thank God everything has returned to normalcy. Evacuation measures have been put in place and thank God the situation is now calm.
 
Source: The Guardian

The Nigeria Federal Government is set to launch the Abuja Rail Mass Transit project later this month.

The project, which is the first light rail system in West Africa, was flagged-off by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2007 in an attempt to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The Government had earlier disclosed that tracks, as well as 12 stations of the first phase of the projects, were already completed while procurement of rolling stock (wagons, etc) was ongoing.

Tolu Ogunlesi, the special assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on digital media, disclosed that the trial phase took place today, ahead of the launch which has been scheduled to hold later this month.

“Today we tour #AbujaMetro, ahead of the launch. The first light rail system in West Africa. Phase 1 completed; 2 Lines, Yellow and Blue, with Connections to Abuja Airport and the National Rail Line” Ogunlesi tweeted.

“Took us about 20 minutes from Abuja Metro Station direct to Idu, where the #AbujaMetro connects to the National Rail Service (Lagos-Kano/Abuja-Kaduna). There are a couple of stations in between that we didn’t stop at, so the ideal journey will take slightly longer.”

The project would connect the city centre to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport and would offer a light rail transport system that would ease transport challenges in the city.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo initiated the project with an official groundbreaking ceremony in May 2007 in order to host Commonwealth Games in 2014. But lack of funds for the project delayed its completion.

Source: The Guardian

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