Connect with us

BUSINESS

CBN on Twitter to Discuss Nigeria’s Exit from Recession

Published

on

The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN is set to hold a meeting on world’s popular social media platform, Twitter to discuss the country’s exit from recession.

The Tweet meeting is aimed at informing and educating Nigerians on the efforts being made by the Bank to grow the economy, especially against the backdrop of the country’s exit from recession in the last quarter of 2017.

The meeting is scheduled to hold today, Monday, 12th February 2018 at 2:00 pm (Nigerian time) and will feature the Acting Director of Corporate Communications in the Bank, Mr. Isaac Okorafor who will entertain questions from the general public on a wide range of issues, especially as regards the policies and actions taken by the Bank to grow the economy in the post-recession era.

These include the Expanded Anchor Borrowers Program, the Accelerated Agricultural Development Program (AADS), Prioritizing forex allocation to vital items and specific target end users, among others.

The Tweet meeting will also provide a veritable “feedback” opportunity, which is a component of effective communication.

It will be moderated by a renowned senior economist, Mr. Paul Alaje.

______
Follow us on twitter via @akwaibominfo

Share your story with us via SMS and WhatsApp on 0902 211 0018


Comments

Akwa Ibom INFO is the digital front-door that informs, educates and entertains a global audience of readers with distinctively radical and inspirational media content emphasizing the freshness of Akwa Ibom culture, entertainment, sports, faith and lifestyle presented from a thrillingly unalike angle.

BUSINESS

AKS Youths Thrilled by Prospects of Re-emerging ALSCON

Published

on

Youths of Ikot Abasi Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State, are excited at the projections of fresh job opportunities, following the plan by the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria, (ALSCON), located in the area, to commence full operations after Russian Aluminium Company, RUSAL and BFIG settled their contentious bid controversy out of court.

NDV learned that the process to privatise ALSCON started since 2001, but the highest bidder, BFIG, in2004, dragged the Bureau of Public Enterprise, BPE and RUSAL to court. It was gathered that the Federal Government subsequently gave RUSAL, the second highest bidder, a go-ahead after BFIG failed to pay the money it offered to take over the company.

Immediate past president of Ukpum Ete Clan, who expressed confidence in RUSAL restoring ALSCON to its former glory, said: “When our people heard that the Federal Government had intervened in the lingering court matter between BFIG and RUSAL towards the ending of 2017, we were very excited.

Even foremost socio-cultural groups like Mboho Ikot Abasi were optimistic that once ALSCON commenced full operations, Ikot Abasi will come alive again.” Outstanding past “When ALSCON was functional, there were lots of job opportunities and our people, especially youths, benefitted a lot from the company. Apart from the constant and free electricity supply enjoyed by our communities, there were programmes for youths of the five clans in Ikot Abasi, including payment of certain amount of money to each clan for youth development. “The Americans that managed ALSCON then did a lot for us and that was responsible for the peaceful coexistence between the company and its host communities of Ikot Abasi,” he said. RUSAL wins hearts His words: “We have also observed that since RUSAL took over ALSCON before the court case, they have demonstrated that they would toe same path. For us, it is a good sign that once they start full operations, Ikot Abasi people will smile again. “And for convincing RUSAL and BFIG to settle out of court, we the youths cannot thank the Federal Government enough for that effort. We specially thank this administration for considering ALSCON among nonfunctional industries in the country,” he added.

Similarly, Chairman Ikot Abasi Clan Youth Leaders’ Forum, Akparawa Mfreke Usoro said: “For many years now, nothing had been happening in Ikot Abasi. No development, no job opportunities, the youths are idle because they have nothing to do and that is why there is rise in criminality. “And what Ikot Abasi youths want now is for RUSAL to start production immediately; no more court matter or anything that will bring problem or impede development of our communities. And I believe that RUSAL will accommodate our youths very well,” he said. No more litigation An activist, Innocent John, said: “I want to advise that RUSAL and BFIG resolve the matter once and for all because we do not need any more court case. We need progress and development in Ikot Abasi We value ALSCON so much because it is the only Federal Government presence in our communities.”

 

______
Follow us on twitter via @akwaibominfo

Share your story with us via SMS and WhatsApp on 0902 211 0018


Comments
Continue Reading

BUSINESS

Cryptocurrencies are Ponzi Schemes – Kim, World Bank President

Published

on

The President of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim became the latest financial voice to raise questions about the legitimacy of digital currencies such as Bitcoin as he compared cryptocurrencies to “Ponzi schemes.”

Kim’s expression of doubt about legitimacy of digital coins came amid slump in market for cryptocurrencies across the globe.

“In terms of using Bitcoin or some of the cryptocurrencies, we are also looking at it, but I’m told the vast majority of cryptocurrencies are basically Ponzi schemes. It’s still not really clear how it’s going to work,” he said.

The global development lender is “looking really carefully” at blockchain technology, a platform that uses so-called distributed ledgers to allow digital assets to be traded securely.

There’s hope the technology could be used in developing countries to “follow the money more effectively” and reduce corruption, Kim added.

The value of cryptocurrencies soared in 2017 before slumping, with Bitcoin losing nearly two-thirds of its value since mid-December.

While cryptocurrency technology has the potential to reshape global finance, concerns have been raised about its volatility and the potential for money laundering or other crimes.

Meanwhile, Nouriel Roubini, while discussing the downsides to cryptocurrencies, called Bitcoin the “mother of all bubbles.”

Also, in a speech this week, Bank of International Settlements’ Chief, Agustin Carstens, said there’s a “strong case” for authorities to rein in digital currencies because their links to the established financial system could cause disruptions.

Federal Reserve Chair, Jerome Powell, has said that “governance and risk management will be critical” for cryptocurrencies.

The President of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim became the latest financial voice to raise questions about the legitimacy of digital currencies such as Bitcoin as he compared cryptocurrencies to “Ponzi schemes.”

Kim’s expression of doubt about legitimacy of digital coins came amid slump in market for cryptocurrencies across the globe.

“In terms of using Bitcoin or some of the cryptocurrencies, we are also looking at it, but I’m told the vast majority of cryptocurrencies are basically Ponzi schemes. It’s still not really clear how it’s going to work,” he said.

The global development lender is “looking really carefully” at blockchain technology, a platform that uses so-called distributed ledgers to allow digital assets to be traded securely.

There’s hope the technology could be used in developing countries to “follow the money more effectively” and reduce corruption, Kim added.

The value of cryptocurrencies soared in 2017 before slumping, with Bitcoin losing nearly two-thirds of its value since mid-December.

While cryptocurrency technology has the potential to reshape global finance, concerns have been raised about its volatility and the potential for money laundering or other crimes.

Meanwhile, Nouriel Roubini, while discussing the downsides to cryptocurrencies, called Bitcoin the “mother of all bubbles.”

Also, in a speech this week, Bank of International Settlements’ Chief, Agustin Carstens, said there’s a “strong case” for authorities to rein in digital currencies because their links to the established financial system could cause disruptions.

Federal Reserve Chair, Jerome Powell, has said that “governance and risk management will be critical” for cryptocurrencies.

______
Follow us on twitter via @akwaibominfo

Share your story with us via SMS and WhatsApp on 0902 211 0018


Comments
Continue Reading

BUSINESS

Voice Calls: Telecommunication Firms Lost N120bn in 2017

Published

on

Major Telecommunications firm in the country lost N120bn potential revenue from voice calls in 2017, data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) showed on Friday.

This is as a result of the reduction in the subscriber base of MTN, Globacom, Airtel and 9mobile between January and December 2017, according to analyses of the latest statistics from the NCC.

 

The NCC’s statistics on the subscribers under the GSM category showed that the active mobile voice subscriptions on the four major networks fell from 154.660 million in January to 144.631 million in December, representing a loss of over 10.028 million active network users.

This impacted negatively on revenue meant to accrue to telcos from voice calls.

According to findings, the industry’s Average Revenue Per User on voice calls is $2.75, which is equivalent to N998.25 per month using N363 to one dollar exchange rate.

This means that in 12 months, a subscriber was expected to have spent an average of N11,979 on voice calls.  An estimation of the amount of money they would have earned on voice calls from 10,028,768 subscribers that were lost is N120.134bn.

However, what was lost from voice calls was gained in data subscription as the number of Internet users rose to 98.391 million in December 2017, from 91.274 million at the beginning of the year. This brings the total number of new Internet users to 7,117 million.

Stakeholders in the industry have warned of depleting revenue due to increased usage of Over-the-Top Internet voice applications such as Whatsapp, Skype, Telegram and FaceBook Messenger that offer instant messaging and voice calls to subscribers globally. These messaging apps have also integrated video calling into their features, all which directly affect voice and the SMS usage but encourage the use of data subscriptions.

A London-based research and analytics firm, Ovum, had predicted that the telecommunications industry would lose about $386bn between 2012 and 2018 from customers using the OTT voice applications.

Speaking on the loss of revenue by telcos on voice calls, the President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, Mr. Olusola Teniola, said other avenues through which telcos made money included wholesale, data and the SMS and mobile payments.

______
Follow us on twitter via @akwaibominfo

Share your story with us via SMS and WhatsApp on 0902 211 0018


Comments
Continue Reading

BUSINESS

ALSCON: Ending a Deadlock

Published

on

Save for the recent amicable resolution, Akwa-Ibom-based Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON) located in Ikot Abasi was a thorn in the flesh of Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE).

Its nightmares were shared by other stakeholders, the host community and feuding core investors locked in legal battle with the Federal Government over ownership dispute. To them, ALSCON was a burden that must be expeditiously resolved.

The Journey

ALSCON was incorporated in 1989 with the Federal Government of Nigeria, Ferrostal of Germany and Reynolds Incorporated of America as shareholders on an equity holding of 70 per cent, 20 per cent and 10 per cent respectively.

The company was established with clear cut objectives to utilise and enhance the country’s gas reserve and discourage gas flaring in the Niger Delta.

Its broad terms include establishing a self-reliant aluminium factory, provide employment to Nigerians and impact technical and develop trained technical manpower, to conserve and earn foreign exchange by meeting local aluminium demands, and aid the development of aluminium downstream industries.

Hitherto, the firm was under the purview of Ministry of Industries until 1991 when it was handed over to the then Ministry of Mines, Power and Steel to manage.

The plant, designed to produce 197,000 metric tonnes of aluminium ingots and billets per annum, commenced production on October 15, 1997.

Failed Privatisation

ALSCON enjoyed uninterrupted production, hitting production target before a snap on June 6, 1999. The major factors that accounted for production pack up included irreconcilable differences between Ferrostaal and Reynolds, lack of working capital, insufficient gas supply and non-dredging of Imo River among others.

To break the jinx and restart production, ALSCON was listed in the 2nd phase of the privatisation programme in the Privatisation and Commercialisation Act of 1999.

In September 2002, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) commenced the privatization process and requested for core investors to express interest in acquiring the Federal Government’s shares. Five companies expressed interest in acquiring the firm. They were ALCOA Inc. of America; Glencore AG of Switzerland; UC Rusal of Russia; ALCAN of Canada and Ferrostaal AG of Germany

After the due diligence, only UC Rusal and Ferrostaal submitted technical and financial bids. Ferrostaal was, however, disqualified by BPE for submitting conditional bids.

This left UC Rusal as the only qualified bidder and the process was therefore aborted.

The process was restarted in 2004. BPE invited interested companies to bid for ALSCON majority stake of which only BFI Group and UC RUSAL satisfied the initial pre-qualification requirements.

BFI Group emerged the preferred bidder with a bid price offer of $410 million, while UC Rusal was disqualified for submitting a conditional bid.

However, BFI Group failed to meet the deadline of July 8, 2004 for the payment of 10 per cent of the bid and was therefore disqualified. Consequently, BPE reopened negotiations with UC Rusal on the basis of a negotiated sale strategy (otherwise known as willing-buyer-willing-seller).

UC Rusal won the FGN equity as core investor and the transaction was approved by the National Council on Privatisation. BPE subsequently handed over ALSCON to UC Rusal at a bid price of $250 million with $120 million out of the total sum set aside for the dredging of Imo River.

Legal Battles

In September 2004, the core investor-BFI Group, dragged BPE before an Abuja High Court for overturning its victory and handing over ALSCON to UC Rusal.

The Federal High Court decided the case in favour of BPE, but BFIG appealed and also lost at the appeal court. BFI Group then took the case to the Supreme Court.

However, in between the period, UC RUSAL commenced production in 2008, but insufficient gas supply to the smelter as well as staff agitation due to non-payment of the balance of their terminal benefit amounting to N2.3 billion constituted a major challenge among others to the smooth operation of the plant.

On July 6, 2012, the Supreme Court revoked the sale of ALSCON to UC Rusal and reinstated BFI Group as preferred bidder for ALSCON.

The Supreme Court ordered inter alia (1) “An order of specific performance is hereby decreed directing the Defendant/Respondent (BPE) to provide the mutually agreed Share Purchase Agreement for execution by the parties to enable the Plaintiff/Appellant (BFIG Group) pay 10% of the accepted bid price of US$410 Million (i.e. the sum of US$41Million) within 15 working days from the date of execution of SPA in accordance with the agreement dated 20/5/2004 and 90% bid price shall be paid within 90 calendar days.”

  1. ii) “An order for the Defendant/Respondent to accept payment of the 10 per cent of the bid price from the appellant within 15 days from the date of signing the Share Purchase Agreement (SPA).”

iii) An order of Perpetual Injunction restraining the Defendant/Respondent (BPE), its servants, agent, privies, management or howsoever called from inviting any further bidding for the sale and acquisition of ALSCON in violation of the contract between the Plaintiff/Appellant and the Defendant/Respondent and/or from negotiating to sell, selling, transferring or otherwise handing over ALSCON to any person or persons in violation of the contract between the Plaintiff/Appellant and the Defendant.”

The transaction for the core investor sale of ALSCON to BFIG was terminated after the expiration of the deadline of March 18, 2013 given to them to sign the SPA and pay 10 per cent of the bid price as ordered by the Supreme Court. BPE reinstated UC RUSAL again as the core investor in ALSCON.

Meanwhile, BFI Group has again gone back to court to compel BPE to reinstate them in ALSCON and the court has ruled in their favour, but BPE has filed an appeal and the case is yet to be determined.

As a result of the uncertainty created by the Judgment and the delay to resolve the case, UC Rusal and ALSCON has been suffering grave damages, as most developmental projects at the smelter have been put on hold. ALSCON/RUSAL is incurring enormous losses having to maintain the plant and staff without being in operation. Consequently, the company retrenched most of the workforce in order to minimise losses.

Finding a Solution

To navigate the firm from the shores of protracted crisis, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, and the BPE worked assiduously to bring the firm back to its feet. BPE sent a memo to the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, to invite the parties with a view to reconciling them. Several mediatory meetings were held, some at the ministerial level to explore both administrative and political approaches to resolving this impasse to enable ALSCON realise and optimise its potential to the benefit of the nation.

At the meeting of the NCP held in August 2017, the council approved an out of court settlement to resolve the lingering dispute between the FGN, BFIG AND UC Rusal through mediation with the active collaboration of Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.

Subsequently, BPE provided the SPA to BFIG for execution in compliance with the order of the Supreme Court and asked BFIG to provide a business plan as required in the SPA and to execute the SPA within a period of seven days as contained in the judgment of the Supreme Court.

Again, BFIG failed to execute the SPA as ordered by the Supreme Court and could not meet the terms of the transaction by close of business on Tuesday, October 3, 2017 (making it the 3rd time the company has failed to meet terms of this transaction), indicating lack of good faith to resolve the impasse.

The renewed Share Purchase Agreement was signed during a brief ceremony at the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Abuja, witnessed by Fayemi; Minister of State, Hon Abubakar Bawa Bwari; Director General, Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), Alex Okoh; Russian Ambassador to Nigeria, Nickolai Udovichenko; CEO/Member of the Board of Directors UC Rusal, Vladislav Soloviev; Managing Director ALSCON, Dmitry Zavyaiov; and Head of Legal, UC Rusal, Piter Maxsimov.

Speaking at the event, Fayemi said President Mohammadu Buhari was keen on seeing to the conclusion of the agreement as soon as possible so that the company could get back on its feet and Nigeria and Russia can strengthen the historical partnership between the two countries.

The Drector General, BPE, Alex Okoh, in his remarks, commended the efforts of Fayemi and his commitment in ensuring the success of the negotiation.

The BPE boss said he was optimistic that the remaining issues would be resolved both on the legal side as well the technical and production issues, adding that government still retained 20 per cent equity in the firm.

Ambassador Nickolai Udovichenko, who led the Russian Government delegation to the event, thanked the Nigerian Government for resolving the impasse, while also lauding the efforts of the minister. He described the development as a new beginning for the two countries.

On his part, The traditional ruler of Ikot Abasi, His Royal Majesty, Edidem U.J Ntuk Obom XII, urged the Federal Government to do everything possible to ensure that ALSCON is revitalised so that economic prosperity of the town could return.

The monarch said ALSCON was the life wire of the community, stressing that the company gave the community 24-hour power supply, employments and awarded scholarships to its students.

Last line

ALSCON’s journey has been a tortuous one, no doubt. However, it is reassuring to know it ended on a pleasant note with the hurdles, hitherto, stalling production uprooted, a new dawn sets in for ALSCON.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

This feature story first appeared on Newtelegraphonline.com by ABDULWAHAB ISA

______
Follow us on twitter via @akwaibominfo

Share your story with us via SMS and WhatsApp on 0902 211 0018


Comments
Continue Reading

Trending