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Wednesday, 17 October 2018
Wednesday, 17 October 2018 18:35

Nigerian govt admits nation in debt distress

The Federal Government of Nigeria has admitted that Nigeria is in debt distress as pointed out by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Thursday.
The Director of African Department at the IMF, Abebe Selassie, while addressing participants at a special session on African development at the on-going 2018 IMF/ World Bank Group Meetings in Bali, Indonesia, had categorised eight African countries as being in debt distress over rising foreign debt.
Selassie had stressed the need for African nations to constantly monitor their debts and make external borrowing sustainable.
He however did not mention the name of the affected countries, he simply described most of the oil exporting countries in Africa as being engrossed in the ensuing burden.
Africa’s oil producing countries in order of production capacity are, Nigeria, Angola, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Congo, South Sudan, Chad, Cameroon, Ghana, among others.
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udo Udoma, who spoke at the presentation of the IMF Regional Economic Outlook Report for Sub-Sahara Africa at the ongoing event on Thursday, agreed with IMF’s position and said Nigeria’s debt vulnerabilities was an issue that should be adequately monitored.
A statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Akpandem James, quoted him as saying, “Even though we in Nigeria have one of the lowest debt levels among our African peers, we realise that we need to improve our revenues to bring down our debt service to revenue ratio to more comfortable levels.”
Udoma noted that the Federal Government was deploying some measures for domestic revenue mobilisation and maintaining fiscal discipline, adding that its tax reform policy such as the tax amnesty programme has helped in broadening the nation’s tax base.
“This, among, other measures, has resulted in the number of taxpayers rising from 13 million to over 19 million. We are also deploying technology in tax and customs’ collections to automate processes and enhance efficiencies.
“Our external debt is primarily concessional borrowing, representing 54 per cent of our external debt as of June 2018. The Debt Sustainability Analysis is conducted annually to reaffirm that our public debt stock is sustainable. In Nigeria, our borrowing is being utilised principally to fix our infrastructure,” Udoma said.
Source: The Ripples
Published in News Economy
Technology firm Google Monday introduced a motorbike mode on its maps, offering routes, traffic information and voice navigation service for riders in Africa for the first time.
Streets in Kenyan cities and towns are often poorly signposted and frequently congested, making it hard for boda-boda operators to pick up customers when they hail them by phone.
The motorbike mode in Google Maps plots routes that are best suited to riders, roads that have less traffic, estimated travel times and voice navigation that guide riders to their destination and pick-up points.
“Kenya has more than one million motorcycles on the roads. They use unconventional routes and shortcuts. This is a travel map for the two wheelers,” said Jeff Albertson, product manager Google Maps.
The service is already available in some countries including India where motorcycles are a popular mode of transport.
Kenyan roads are full of boda- bodas, that are much cheaper rides compared to car taxis, and have emerged as jobs creator in an economy that has the highest youth unemployment in East Africa.
“With Google Maps’ new Motorbike Mode, users across Kenya will now be able to get directions and turn-by-turn navigation, to suggest routes that are more efficient,” Google said.
Google added that it was launching its Street View service in Kenya for the first time, allowing users to virtually explore via images of streets, cities, and parks on 9,500 km of roads with a single click. It will feature main cities, roads and heavily visited places such as Masai Mara and tourist destinations including Mombasa and Malindi.
“Users on Google are keen on Kenya whether to visit or just for curiosity. They want to know more about the scenery and the wildlife,” said Mr Albertson.
He stated that the global interest in Kenya made it ideal to have as one of the about 45 countries on Streetview.
Street view made a mini debut in Kenya in 2015 when Samburu National Reserve was added on to the map feature. It offers a 360 degree image of a street or area.
Source: Daily Nation
Published in Telecoms

Facebook has tried to shut down ads that illegally used South African billionaire Mark Shuttleworth as its "front man" - but hours later they popped up again.

Shuttleworth’s name and picture have been posted on adverts promoting cryptocurrency scams on Facebook and on fake news websites.

The images and ads look similar to those used for a scam called QProfit System, which surfaced earlier this year. That scam claims that its designer, Jerry Douglas, was asked by Shuttleworth to develop a cryptocurrency system. It also creates the impression that Shuttleworth is out for “revenge” after losing a R250.5 million lawsuit against the Reserve Bank.

Shuttleworth, who has an estimated fortune of R9.6 billion and is CEO of the open-source operating system provider Canonical, has denied any involvement in a blog post.

“I can’t comment on whether or not Jerry Douglas promotes a QProfit System and whether or not it’s fraud. But I can tell you categorically that there are many scams like this, and that this investment has absolutely nothing to do with me. I haven’t developed this software and I have no desire to defraud the South African government or anyone else. I’m doing what I can to get the fraudulent sites taken down. But please take heed and don’t fall for these scams,” wrote Shuttleworth.

Ads for the new version of the scam, which asks for an initial fee of $250 (R3,750), have recently appeared on Facebook. Here, Shuttleworth’s face and a false testimony are used to promote a scheme for an app called Bitcoin Trader and Bitcoin Revolution. The ads take the users to different fake news websites, including a site called POIP News.

Facebook was alerted to the new scam ads last week. On Monday it responded by removing the ads.

“We do not allow adverts which are misleading or false on Facebook and encourage people to report any adverts that they believe infringe on their rights, or shouldn’t be on Facebook. As soon as these pages and ads were highlighted to us, we worked promptly to remove them and can confirm that several accounts and pages that violated our Advertising Policies have been taken down," said a spokesperson.


Source: News24

Published in Business
Wednesday, 17 October 2018 15:03

Canada legalizes marijuana for recreational use

Nearly a century of marijuana prohibition came to an end Wednesday as Canada became the first major Western nation to legalize and regulate its sale and recreational use.
The change was praised by pot enthusiasts and investors in a budding industry that has seen pot stocks soar on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges, but sharply questioned by some health professionals and opposition politicians.
“We’re not legalizing cannabis because we think it’s good for our health. We’re doing it because we know it’s not good for our children,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on the eve of the reform.
“We know we need to do a better job to protect our children and to eliminate or massively reduce the profits that go to organized crime.”
The Cannabis Act, which fulfills a promise Trudeau made in the 2015 election campaign, makes Canada only the second nation after Uruguay to legalize the drug.
Its implementation will be scrutinized and dissected by Canadians ahead of the next election in 2019, as well as other nations that the prime minister has said may follow suit if the measure proves a success.
Trudeau himself admitted in 2013 to having smoked pot five or six times in his life, including at a dinner party with friends after being elected to parliament.
He has also said that his late brother Michel was facing marijuana possession charges for a “tiny amount” of pot before his death in an avalanche in 1998, and that this influenced his decision to propose legalizing cannabis.
But Trudeau’s office told AFP he “does not plan on purchasing or consuming cannabis once it is legalized.”
In total, Statistics Canada says 5.4 million Canadians will buy cannabis from legal dispensaries in 2018 — about 15 percent of the population. Around 4.9 million already smoke.
Stores in St. John’s in the Atlantic island province of Newfoundland were due to open their doors to pot enthusiasts as of 12:01 am local time (0231 GMT) on Wednesday.
“I’m going to have a lot more variety than the black market dealers, so you have a lot more choice at our store. 
The prices are very comparable,” Thomas Clarke, owner of THC Distribution store, told public broadcaster CBC just prior to the big event.
– A new industry is born –
Under the new regulations, Canadians at least 18 or 19 years old (soon to be 21 in Quebec) will be allowed to buy up to 30 grams of cannabis, and grow up to four plants at home.
A patchwork of private and public cannabis retail stores and online sales have been set up across the 13 provinces and territories, ramping up to 300 storefronts by year’s end, the government predicts.
Sales of derivatives like edibles will be legalized next year.
To meet demand, hundreds of growers have been licensed, some taking over horticulture and floriculture greenhouses.
This new industry has attracted billions in funding, as well as interest from alcohol and soft drink makers such as Constellation Brands and Coca-Cola, respectively, which have expressed an interest in developing cannabis infused drinks.
Cannabis sales are forecast to boost economic growth by up to Can$1.1 billion and provide a Can$400 million tax revenue windfall for the government, according to Statistics Canada.
Public health officials contend that smoking cannabis is as harmful as tobacco, but welcome what they call the opportunity that legalization affords for open dialogue.
Some doctors, however, remain wary. Diane Kelsall, editor in chief of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, called legalization “a national, uncontrolled experiment in which the profits of cannabis producers and tax revenues are squarely pitched against the health of Canadians.”
Police, meanwhile, are scrambling to prepare for a predicted uptick in drug-impaired driving.
It’s unclear as yet if the new framework will succeed in undercutting the black market, as prices for illicit pot have plunged in the last year to an average of Can$6.79 per gram, and most sellers had planned to charge more.
Bill Blair, a former police chief in Toronto who is Trudeau’s pointman for pot legalization, remains optimistic.
“For almost a century, criminal enterprises had complete control of this market, 100 percent of its production and distribution and they profited in the billions of dollars each year. I suspect they’re not going to go gently into the night,” he told AFP.
“But the fact that some individuals want to cling to a prohibition model that has led to the highest rates of cannabis use of any country in the world is a little shocking to me,” he said.
According to a recent Abacus Data poll published on Monday, 70 percent of Canadians accept or support legalization.
Published in Business

As the 2019 General elections draw near in Nigeria, some commercial banks plan to cut lending to avert risks, Ike Chioke, Managing Director, Afrinvest West Africa Limited, has said.

Chioke made the disclosure while releasing the 2018 Nigerian Banking Sector Report in Lagos on Tuesday.

The development is coming in spite of the promise by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to support banks that fund projects in the agriculture, manufacturing, and other related sectors that are employment and growth stimulating to the economy by refunding Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) at a single interest rate of 9 percent per annum.

The CBN had said the effort under the differentiated CRR regime was part of measures aimed at increasing the flow of credit to the real sector of the economy in order to consolidate and sustain the nation’s economic recovery

But according to the Managing Director of a Lagos-based investment and research firm, lenders are already cutting loans to key sectors of the economy to reduce the political risks and ensure safety of their funds.

“The political environment is heating up, new alliances are emerging and defections across the biggest parties have punctuated the polity.

“These events are evidence of the prevailing political risk factor in Nigeria, creating uncertainty in the environment, with potential impacts on business and investor confidence,” Chioke said.

He added that the election fears have contributed to the decline in the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflow into the country as some of the investors are caution against the polls.

The Managing Director forecast that with the expected recovery in the non-sector which reflected in the nation’s Q2 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) report, Nigeria’s economy would reach 2.1 percent in 2018.

His outlook is 0.5 percent points from 2.6 percent earlier projected for the nation’s growth.

“To achieve this, we believe that increased spending ahead of the 2019 elections will support non-oil sector activities, while increased oil output due to an additional 0.2 million barrels per day from the Egina Oil Field will drive oil sector growth,” he said.

In August, a $3.3 billion worth Egina Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) had sailed from LADOL Island in Lagos to its oil field located in Oil Mining Lease (OML) 130 located some 130 kilometers off the coast of Nigeria at water depths of over 1,500 meters.

The oil field was projected raise Nigeria’s crude oil production by 200,000 barrels per day, an approximate of 10 percent of the country’s total oil production output, when it comes on stream in December.

The project, built by Samsung Heavy Industries of Korea (SHI) for the Egina oil field was primarily operated in Nigeria by the global oil giant, Total, at a cost of $16 billion.


Source: The Ripples

Published in Bank & Finance

OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo on Tuesday urged oil producing companies to increase capacities and invest more to meet future demand as spare oil capacity shrinks worldwide.

Oil prices have rallied this year on expectations that U.S. sanctions on Iran will strain supplies by lowering shipments from OPEC's third-largest oil producer. Brent crude breached four year highs to reach $86.74 a barrel earlier this month, the highest since 2014.

"Countries that are holding spare capacity are now shrinking because there has been less investment in exploration," Barkindo said on the sidelines of the IHS CERA conference.

The global oil sector needs about $11 trillion in investment to meet future oil needs in the period up to 2040, Barkindo said, adding that import-dependent countries such as India were concerned about future oil supply.

Crude oil demand is expected to increase by 14.5 million barrels per day (bpd) from 2017 to 111.7 million bpd in 2040, OPEC said in its September report.

Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader of OPEC, is the only oil producer with significant spare capacity on hand to supply the market if needed, and the kingdom plans to invest $20 billion in the next few years to possibly expand its spare oil production capacity.

Barkindo said the oil markets were currently adequately supplied and balanced, but cautioned against a potential imbalance in 2019 due to higher supply.

"We will continue to ensure that the balance that we have attained after four years will be sustained going forward," he said.

Members of OPEC and non-OPEC countries participating in a supply-reduction agreement are on course to reach 100 percent compliance, Barkindo said, calling it a "work in progress."

OPEC and allied producers - not including the United States - agreed in June to return to 100 percent compliance with output cuts that began in January 2017, after months of underproduction in Venezuela and elsewhere pushed adherence above 160 percent.


India is expected to account for about 40 percent of the overall increase in global demand for the period ending 2040, Barkindo said. Demand for oil in the world's third-largest oil importer is expected to rise by 5.8 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2040.

"India is projected to see the largest additional oil demand (3.7 percent per annum) and the fastest growth in the period to 2040," said Barkindo in his speech to the conference. Indian officials have flagged worries about the outlook for crude supply though oil producers have downplayed a potential shortfall.

India, which imports more than 80 percent of its oil needs, shipped in 4.2 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude in 2017.

India has sought easier payment terms from oil suppliers to combat higher crude prices.

Retail fuel prices in India recently touched record levels due to high oil prices and a weakening rupee, leading to protests across the country.


Published in World
  1. Opinions and Analysis


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