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Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Experts from the leading end-to-end financial solutions provider, Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, a member of Standard Bank Group, will be sharing insights at the 2020 edition of the Social Media Week (SMW) in Lagos.

The event is scheduled to hold at the Landmark Centre, Lagos, from Monday, February 24 to 28.

SMW Lagos, heading into its eighth year in 2020, is a conference and festival of tech and innovation, where attendees learn how to leverage technology in order to harness opportunities in diverse sectors like agriculture, technology, and entertainment.

The theme for this year’s edition is “HUMAN X” which will explore taking a human-first and experience-driven approach to innovation across industries and in our communities.

Wole Adeniyi, Executive Director, Personal and Business Banking, Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC, is scheduled to speak at the Mainstage Session on Monday, February 24, 2020, on the topic, Tech and Financial Inclusion.

He will be joined by other experts and professionals in Nigeria’s bourgeoning fintech sector. The panel will be moderated by Emmanuel Aihevba, Head, Customer Channels, Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC.

In addition, other experts from the fintech industry are expected at the event to shed light on the technological trends for 2020.

Other keynote speakers are Ayodele Ojosipe,  who will be speaking on Financing the Music and Wole Oshin, a panel member at the Roundtable Masterclass session titled Agri-tech Youth Empowerment. Both sessions will hold on Wednesday, February 26, 2020.

Published in Bank & Finance
Tuesday, 18 February 2020 14:18

Coronavirus: Singapore to spend over $4bn

Singapore, on Tuesday announced its 2020 budget, pledging 5.6 billion Singapore dollars (or 4.02 billion U.S. dollars) to assist businesses and households affected financially by the coronavirus outbreak.
Finance Minister Heng Keat announced the measures in Singapore’s parliament, saying another 800 million Singapore dollars would be allocated to support frontline agencies fighting coronavirus in the city-state, where 77 cases had been confirmed.
Keat warned that the outbreak would certainly impact the country’s economy, adding that inbound tourism and air traffic had already dropped as Chinese outbound tourism plummets.
Singapore Airlines announced on Tuesday that it was temporarily reducing flights due to weak demand as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Keat said that venues hosting conferences would get a property tax rebate of 30 per cent, while Changi Airport, one of the world’s busiest, will get a 15-per-cent rebate.
“A proposed increase to the goods and services tax will be put on hold until 2021,“ he said.
He noted that the outbreak of the virus had forced factories across China to close temporarily, which seriously disrupted supply chains.
“Singapore’s economy is more integrated with China, compared with during the 2008-9 global financial crisis.”
The Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry warned that 2020 economic growth could be minus 0.5 per cent, while on Feb. 14, Prime Minister Lee Loong, said that a recession was possible in 2020.
Keat warned that the duration and severity of the outbreak was still unclear, so, the economic impact might be worse than expected.
Published in World
In a move to conserve Nigeria’s ample natural gas resources, the Federal Government on Monday announced it had pruned the number of 800 investors, interested in commercialising flared gas in the country, to 200.
Sarki Ahmed, the Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) made the disclosure in Lagos at a conference for Nigeria Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme (NGFCP) bidders.
He said the meeting was called to deliberate on how to manage about 320 billion cubic feet of gas (bcf) that was flared in 2019 alone.
Ahmed asserted that the NGCFP had a duty to curb gas flaring by means of sustainable gas utilisation projects established by capable third party investors who have scaled the hurdle of the rigorous and transparent bid process.
The DPR’s boss affirmed that the first phase of the NGFCP would see the DPR allocate 45 out of the 178 gas flare sites to qualified firms.
The NGFCP, a brainchild of President Muhammadu Buhari, launched in October 2016 with a mandate to convert waste to fortune by harnessing huge quantities of gas lost in Nigeria annually for economic expansion and job creation especially in the Niger Delta region.
Ahmed affirmed that the NGCFP had a duty to curb gas flaring by means of sustainable gas utilisation projects established by capable third party investors who have scaled the hurdle of the rigorous and transparent bid process.
“There are other sites that are coming on board. This is to show that investors are interested in Nigeria because of its potential. We cannot allow this potential to stay untapped,” he said.
The DPR’s chief further stated that the FG set out to reduce gas flaring as a measure for curtailing global warming in fulfilment of the Paris Climate Agreement.
On his part, Olawole Ogunsola, the Deputy Manager, Gas Production and Flare Monitoring, Gas Division NNPC, confirmed that the Request for Proposal and commercial agreements were sent out in January 2020.
In his word ““The government is committed to accelerating this programme and see that it comes to an end.
“The DPR has deployed all mechanisms to conclude this seamlessly, proficiently and efficiently.
“We invite the investors to submit credible proposals that will stand the test of time, that will create value for you and help us address this recurring decimal of gas flaring.”
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Nigeria lost about N233 billion ($761.6 million) to flared gas in 2018 alone.
Published in Business

Investors are still being fairly complacent about the novel coronavirus. After the number of new daily cases suddenly shot up to more than 15,000 on February 12 following more than a week of decline, there were some jitters in the markets.

With Chinese authorities saying the increase was due to a decision to broaden the definition for diagnosing people, there were falls in the region of 1% in European markets, and smaller retrenchments in Asia and North America.

It is a fairly minor shift in sentiment after a few days in which investor concerns had been steadily receding. There appears to be a real danger of underestimating the likely economic impact of this crisis. China’s manufacturing sector in particular faces an unprecedented challenge because supply chains have been so seriously disrupted.

Coronavirus daily new cases


Well over 80 cities have gone into lockdown, including the entire areas of five Chinese provinces – Hubei, Liaoning, Jiangxi, An’hui and Inner Mongolia – and four main cities in Zhejiang province, affecting well over 275 million people. Since February 10, Beijing and Shanghai have further restricted the movement of people, having already extended the Chinese New Year break.

My parents live in Jiangxi province and are among millions semi-quarantined at home. The local government allows one person from each household to go out every two day to buy necessities. Even in cities not under compulsory lockdown, there are rarely people on the streets. The tweet below shows the Nanjing Road in Shanghai, the busiest shopping precinct in the country. It was taken on January 26 but the situation is not much better now.

This is taking a serious toll on the Chinese economy. No statistics on the actual losses are available yet, but for example, the number of intercity passengers on public transport during the new year break was only 60% of 2019 levels.

Xibei, a famous dining brand with 350 restaurants and RMB5.7 billion (£628 million) annual revenues, said takings during the holiday period were down 87% year on year. The contrast with last year, when Chinese tourism, retail and catering revenues all rose by around 8% during the new year period, is likely to be huge.

The problems in the Chinese services sector are primarily a demand shock. This will probably rebound once the epidemic is contained, just like during the Sars outbreak of 2003. The Chinese inflation rate based on the consumer price index (CPI) turned down during peak crisis between February and June 2003, then quickly shifted to positive.

Makers not marching

This time around in manufacturing, which comprises nearly a third of the Chinese economy, there is a much bigger shock to the supply side than in 2003. Factory lines have ground to a halt because of the lockdown. You can see the gap between the demand and supply of Chinese goods by comparing the inflation rate with the level of optimism among the country’s manufacturers, as measured by the purchasing managers’ index (PMI).

The Chinese CPI in January rose 5.4%, the highest monthly rate since October 2011, while the manufacturing PMI hit a three-month low of 50%. The fact that inflation is actually rising this time when it fell in 2003 is because this time, both supply and demand are falling but supply is falling faster.

To keep the economy afloat, the government has rolled out a series of financial measures, including lower borrowing rates, loan extensions, tax reductions and waivers, and an injection of RMB200 billion (£22 billion) in market liquidity. This will ease financial strains, but not address the underlying problems in manufacturing supply chains.

Many manufacturers cannot resume work because they can’t get supplies of raw materials and their workforce is quarantined. They are having problems with orders, wage payments, cash flow, order deliveries, debt repayments, and logistics and transport. Many are also facing penalties for breaching contracts.

Many companies are also having to suspend operations by order of the local government. For example, out of 29,814 firms that have applied to resume operations in Hangzhou, the capital city of Zhejiang province, just 162 had been given authorisation by February 10.

Many smaller companies can’t get authorisation because they are less capable of sourcing face masks than bigger companies. They are also more wary of letting out-of-town workers return because they usually have less dormitory space so can’t give them a room to themselves – another key precaution against the spread of infection.

A poll of 1,295 firms by the Chinese Academy of Social Science (CASS) published on February 1 found that 43.9% expected their business will post a loss in the coming year. It won’t take long before liquidity problems morph into solvency problems, especially for smaller companies. Only 9% of respondents to the CASS survey thought they would survive a month of suspended operations, while two-thirds said that a two-week shutdown was all they could take.

Global supply chains

This is already disrupting the world supply chain for manufacturing, hitting everyone from big South Korean car manufacturers like Hyundai and Kia to small tech companies in the US like Agilian Technology.

Some Chinese manufacturers, such as number-one Apple supplier Foxconn, are resuming work in phases, but they still need more time to reach full capacity because only local employees can return immediately. Workers travelling from elsewhere have to isolate themselves at home for seven to 14 days before returning. The next Apple smartphone, due in March, could be delayed.

The new coronavirus is a major shock to all market participants in China. Even if the outbreak is contained over the next few weeks, it will still have a long-term impact. The demand and supply shocks could combine to drive China into stagflation, where there is inflation and weak economic growth at the same time, and for which there are no effective monetary or fiscal policies.

The uncertainty created by the outbreak, compounded by China’s trade war with the US, is going to force companies to re-examine their exposure to Chinese manufacturing and the whole idea of a global supply chain. It wouldn’t be surprising to see rival countries developing supply hubs of closely linked manufacturers of the kind that China has created very successfully. This, too, looks like bad news for China. The novel coronavirus is prompting a new period of global instability whose ramifications could be felt for many years to come.The Conversation


Chusu He, Lecturer in Finance, Coventry University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Published in World
In spite of its current battle against the ravaging novel coronavirus which has claimed close to two thousand lives (mainly Chinese), China has continued preparation for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (BOCOG) to be held in Beijing.
According to Xinhua, the Beijing Organizing Committee of the event held a high-level video conference on Monday with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on the preparations.
“After the coronavirus outbreak, president Thomas Bach sent letters to the Chinese Olympic Committee, expressing his confidence that the Games’ preparations will not be affected. Mr. Samaranch Jr. extended high praise over China’s effort to contain the epidemic and his confidence in its victory. Although we did not meet in person in recent days, BOCOG has been keeping in close communications with Mr. Samaranch Jr., Mr. Dubi and other IOC officials, reporting important updates,” the news medium quoted Zhang Jiandong, Beijing vice mayor and BOCOG executive vice president.
It’s also reported that construction of the National Sleigh and Luge Center in Yanqing was not suspended during the Chinese New Year holidays.
Workers and operation team for the National Alpine Skiing Center in the Yanqing competition zone returned to work after a two-day brief break during the holidays to make sure the track and the snow meet Olympic standards.
Statistics were also said to have been collected over how the temperature, sunlight and wind speed affect the snow and cable car.
The manager of the construction company in charge of the National Alpine Skiing Center was reported to have said workers were taking body temperature and wearing masks to continue working on daily basis.
He also said offices, cafeteria, dormitories, and shuttle buses were disinfected, and that migrant workers that returned to Beijing were under quarantine as required.
He added that strict control and management were also practiced at the construction site of the National Speed Skating Oval, or the “Ice Ribbon”, in the Beijing competition Zone.
China’s halfpipe national team players are also said to be training at the Genting Snow Park to prepare for Beijing 2022, with other national teams also under training behind closed doors.
Published in World
Tuesday, 18 February 2020 07:31

Kenya's SportPesa terminate Formula One deal

SportPesa has terminated its sponsorship with Formula One team Racing Point.

In a statement released in Nairobi on Monday, the betting firm indicated the decision was made ''in line with its new business strategy and sponsorship approach''.

"After an amazingly successful season with the Racing Point F1 Team, we wish them success in the 2020 competition, and we look forward to their transformation into Aston Martin Racing in 2021. We would like to thank the team and F1 for a great season working together and we would look forward to opportunities of working joints on local activations," the statement read in part.

This three-year deal was reported to be worth $30million.

The Kenyan betting firm has also terminated a separate deal with English Premier League club Everton worth $6million a season.

"SportPesa will no longer be on the front of the shirt of Everton as a principal partner after the 2019/2020 season," the statement said.

The remaining sponsorship deals between the betting firm and Tanzanian clubs Yanga, Simba Singida United and Namungo, South African side Cape Town City and English championship team Hull City are not affected.

SportPesa woes are believed to have started when the company lost its licence to operate in Kenya last July.



Published in Business

Residents of Otuke in northern Uganda have been left in panic after desert locusts, which have been causing havoc in the neighbouring Karamoja region spread to the district.

Two swarms of locusts which entered Amudat District from Kenya and spread to the rest of the districts in Karamoja crossed to Otuke on Sunday evening, according to local leaders.

The insects were reportedly seen in Atirayon Parish in Ogwete Sub-county at the Otuke-Napak border. However, there have been no immediate reports on destruction caused by the locusts.
Mr Jackson Opio, a resident of Amaracidi Village in Ogwete Sub-county said the locusts had not yet caused much damage.

Otuke District chairman, Mr Bosco Odongo Obote, said the locusts have invaded Agweng, Angaro, Amaracidi, Akodo-kodoi and Angaro villages in Ogwete Sub-county.
“Otuke District local government is liaising with government to stump out the locusts before they cause extensive damage,” Mr Odongo told Daily Monitor on Monday.

He said a team of Local Defense Unit (LDU) was immediately deployed and they embarked on spraying the desert locusts in Ogwete Sub-county using hand pumps. The LC5 chairman said the locusts are headed to Olilim and Ogor sub-counties, still in Otuke.

READ: Africa’s Locust Outbreak Needs $76m Urgently

He appealed to local leaders in the affected communities to register all households whose gardens have been destroyed by the locusts for immediate government intervention.

Otuke is just recovering from prolonged dry spell that ravaged the district from October 2018 until late March 2019, when Lango received intermittent rainfall. The pattern affected planting seasons in 2018 and the beginning of 2019, leading to severe food shortages. With the invasion of locusts, residents are worried that they are likely to starve.



Published in Agriculture
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