Aso Villa Reads for 12/03/2019

Every day, we bring you the best stories that the Media is reporting about the Government of Nigeria

Daily Trust reports that “Nigeria’s internet subscription rose by 8.26 per cent to 106.42 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2018 from 103.51 recorded in the second quarter and 112.07 million recorded in the third quarter of the same year. The telecoms data for the third and fourth quarters of 2018 released, yesterday, by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed a total of 172.82 million and 162.03 million subscribers were active on voice as against 162.52 million in the second quarter of 2018 which represented 6.66 per cent increase in subscribers’ base. The report showed that Lagos State has the highest number of subscribers in terms of active voice per state in the fourth quarter of the year and closely followed by Ogun and Kano states respectively while Bayelsa and Ebonyi states have the least number of subscribers. Similarly, Lagos State has the highest number of subscribers in terms of active internet per state during the period and closely followed by Ogun and Kano states respectively while Bayelsa and Ebonyi states have the least number of subscribers.”

“The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has enjoined the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bankers Committee to raise the capital base of NIRSAL Microfinance Bank from N 5 billion to N 100 billion. The NMFB is a brainchild of the Bankers’ Committee, the Nigeria Incentive- Based Risk Sharing System and the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST).” According to Blue Print, “the Bankers Committee provided the set — up equity capital and owns 50 per cent of the bank, while NIRSAL and NIPOST own 40 per cent and ten per cent respectively. The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, had last week during a facility tour of the MFB said loans would be given at five per cent with a seven — year repayment period. Speaking on the development, the Lead Director, CSJ, Mr Eze Onyekpere, said on Sunday that while the initiative was vital in view of its potential to provide liquidity to small businesses, the N 5bn capital base of the MFB might be inadequate to bridge the funding gap. He said, “ This is a welcome development that will tackle the challenge of access to credit for SMEs. “The implication is that the loans will be available at rates below the inflation rate and monetary policy rate. “ This to a great extent implies that the beneficiaries will be enjoying a subsidy. “Access to credit has remained a huge challenge for Small and Medium Enterprises and monetary policy and money deposit banks over the years have shown no inclination at easing this challenge.”

“The Central Bank of Nigeria is set to conduct a primary market auction on Wednesday to roll over N89.5bn worth of Treasury bills maturing on Thursday, across the 91-day (N5bn), 182-day (N14bn) and 364-day (N70.5bn) tenors. The 91-day tenor had a last stop rate of 10.90 per cent and is expected to have a stop rate between 10.50 per cent and 10.99 per cent at the end of the week. The 182-day tenor, which had a last stop rate of 13.01 per cent, is expected to close at a rate between 12.95 per cent and 13.20 per cent. The 364-day tenor had a last stop rate of 14.37 per cent and an expected stop rate range of 13.50 per cent and 13.90 per cent”. Punch reports that “the bullish sentiment in the Treasury bills secondary market was reversed last week (after two weeks) as the apex bank increased its frequency of liquidity controls via Open Market Operation auctions, albeit offering only short-tenor and mid-tenor bills. Consequently, the average yield across tenors advanced by 51 basis points week-on-week to 13.5 per cent from the 13 per cent recorded in the previous week. Accordingly, the short-term and medium-term instruments increased by 101bps and 135bps week-on-week, respectively, following sell-offs as investors took a position in bills offering higher yields at the OMO auctions. The long-term bills also advanced marginally by six basis points week-on-week, despite sustained demand witnessed for the most part of the week.”

“The Nigerian Stock Exchange and Meristem Securities Limited have partnered to launch two new style indices, namely NSE-Meristem Growth Index and NSE-Meristem Value Index. The NSE, in a statement on Monday, said the indices would be available real time on its website from March 12, 2019”. According to Punch, “the style indices were designed in response to demand for customised indices to support product development and investment management. According to the statement, the style indices will provide a benchmark for the market to gauge the performance of value stocks and growth stocks listed on the Exchange. The Divisional Head, Trading Business, NSE, Mr Jude Chiemeka, said, “We are pleased to collaborate with Meristem Securities in the development of the first style-focused indices to be publicly launched in Nigeria. “The introduction of the NSE-Meristem Growth and NSE-Meristem Value indices is a laudable and innovative effort, which is long overdue. These indices provide products strategists and asset managers the leverage to create investment vehicles that democratise professional asset management for the benefit of investors while still following the tenets of classic investment philosophies ― growth and value.” Chiemeka stated that the indices were available for licensing and urged the investing public to take advantage of the benefits the indices provide. The Group Head, Investment Research, Meristem Securities, Mrs Kemi Akinde, described the indices as benchmarks to track the performance of growth and value stocks that were traded on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.”

“Nigeria’ broadband penetration has increased to 32.34 percent in January 2019, latest figures from the Nigerian Communications Commission have shown. This is as the number of 3G and 4G subscriptions in the country hit 61.7 million as of January this year. Broadband penetration is typically measured by the percentage of the total population with access to broadband networks out of each hundred. According to NCC, the broadband penetration can be calculated by taking the total active broadband subscription figure of 61,732,130 and divide it by the population figure of 190,886,311 (using the United Nations’ projection as of December 2017). The country set a five-year National Broadband Plan, which ran from 2013 to 2018, with the target of a minimum of 30 per cent broadband penetration from the five per cent it had in 2013. The NCC had said based on the 190 million populations of Nigeria and 169 million connected lines, those who had access to broadband at a speed of 1.5 megabytes per second covered over 30 per cent of the population as of December 2018. In December 2018, NCC data indicated that the country had attained a broadband penetration of 31.48 per cent. Speaking at a stakeholders’ forum in Abuja recently, the Executive Vice-Chairman of the NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, noted that multiple regulations, right of way and delayed permits were some of the challenges affecting the broadband plan”. Punch reported this.

“Nigeria, which has struggled but failed to produce steel locally for about 40 years, may be inching its way closer to realising this dream, as a local company has announced its plans to invest into the industry. African Natural Resources and Mines Limited (ANRML), has to invest $600m (N183.6bn, official CBN rate) into a unified iron ore mining, processing and steel production project, which includes the capacity to directly convert iron into direct steel for manufacturing, minister of finance Zainab Ahmed, announced in December 2018.” According to Business Day, “ANRML will be taking advantage of the shortfalls in the steel industry in Nigeria to position itself as the next generation steel company in Nigeria. To position itself as the next generation steel company in Nigeria. Incorporated in 2014 as part of African Industries Group, ANRML plans to embark on the integration of steel production. Its planned investment was described at the time as the first major investment in the mining sector in more than two decades,” according to Ahmed.”

According to Premium Times, “no fewer than 790 scholarships are awarded to brilliant needy boys and girls by the 15 ECOWAS countries in the last one year, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has said. Mr Buhari, who is current Chair of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, said this at the 63rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the UN headquarters, New York.” The report revealed that the President was “represented by Aisha Abubakar, Nigeria’s Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mr Buhari shared the interventions, accomplishments and challenges of the 15-Member States. He said with the scholarships, girls were now increasingly subscribing to scientific and technical subjects, such as agricultural research, biotechnology, molecular biology, mechanics, civil engineering and other technical and vocational courses hitherto dominated by boys. “This programme has also significantly contributed to awareness creation on gender-based violence, female genital mutilation, child marriage and early pregnancy,” he said. Mr Buhari said the sub-region was in full expansion and resolutely committed to a successful integration of its peoples through ECOWAS Commission. According to him, ECOWAS is actively working to fight against exclusion, inequalities and the generational transmission of poverty in order to accelerate change with a strong social impact. He also listed the ECOWAS’ interventions and accomplishments to include programme of support on the reproductive health of women and girls.”