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‘Nigeria’s economic recovery poised to build momentum in Q2’

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Market optimism over the recovery of Africa’s largest economy has increased steadily throughout the first trading quarter of 2018.

The combination of appreciating oil prices, foreign exchange stability and easing inflationary pressure has boosted confidence in Nigeria’s economy. With the nation’s GDP hitting 0.82% in 2017 and predicted to register a positive trajectory amid strengthening domestic demand, the outlook continues to look highly encouraging.

The improving macroeconomic conditions and ongoing efforts to diversify away from oil reliance are likely to attract foreign investors, further fueling economic growth.

It is fair to suggest that Nigeria’s stabilizing fundamentals may encourage the Central Bank of Nigeria to cut interest rates sooner than anticipated. With oil prices appreciating, domestic production improving and foreign exchange reserves rising to $46 billion, most of the ingredients are in place for the CBN to act.

There is a strong suspicion that inflationary pressures need to ease further into the realm of single digits before the central bank loosens its monetary policy. An interest rate cut has the ability to stimulate the current recovery because it encourages consumer borrowing and businesses to increase investments.

While an interest rate cut in April may be slightly premature, the CBN could surprise markets near at the end of Q3 if inflation continues to decline.

Although domestic economic conditions continue to improve, investors must not overlook external risks that may impact Nigeria’s current recovery. Oil price volatility remains a key risk for Nigeria despite the nation’s ongoing efforts to diversifying to other sustainable sources of growth. With oil accounting for roughly 90 percent of exports and 80 percent of public revenues, a sharp depreciation in prices could easily spell trouble for Nigeria.

While WTI crude has followed a positive trajectory in recent months amid expectations of demand increasing and optimism over OPEC’s production cuts, the upside may face headwinds. It must be kept in mind that soaring production from US Shale remains a threat to higher oil prices and is likely to result in a selloff medium to longer term. While Nigeria could continue enjoying the benefits of oil trading around $64, the clock is ticking as oversupply remains a market theme.

In addition to oil prices, attention should also be focused towards the Dollar’s performance and US rate hike expectations. Higher US interest rates have the ability to trigger capital outflows from emerging markets and weaken EM currencies with the Naira falling into the category.

While the Naira may be slightly bruised by capital flight in the event of higher US interest rates, Nigeria’s rising foreign exchange reserves and rising oil prices could cushion the impact.

The Naira witnessed stability against the Dollar in March with prices trading around N360 on the parallel markets and N304 on the official market. While the local currency’s appreciation may be attributed to intervention by the CBN, the improving sentiment towards Nigeria has also played a leading role.

The ongoing trade drama between the United States and China is unlikely to have a direct impact on Nigeria’s economy. Indirectly, the uncertainty and anxiety over a potential global trade war could spark risk aversion consequently impacting emerging markets like Nigeria. A scenario where foreign investors remain guarded and maintain a safe distance from risk, could weigh on Nigeria in the recovery stages.

As we enter the second quarter of 2018, much focus will be directed towards domestic monetary policy, inflation and external risks that could impact Nigeria’s positive momentum. Easing inflationary pressures remain one of the most encouraging aspects for Nigeria as consumer prices hit $14.33 in February. Not only will falling inflation boost the rate of return for savers and increase disposable income in Nigeria, it creates an opportunity for the CBN to cut interest rates- ultimately stimulating economic growth.

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BUSINESS

Investment One Unveils Investment App

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Investment One Financial Services Limited has launched an investment solution for investors.

The Ziing App, according to Group Chief Executive Officer of the Company, Nicholas Nyamali, is a solution for investors who desire to be total control of their investments.

“Ziing is an App on your phone that essentially enables you to take control of your finances. It is your money buddy. It is an App that provides the user an array of financial services ranging from timely investment information to identifying available investment opportunities”, Nyamali disclosed at the launch of the application in recently in Lagos.

“With Ziing, l don’t need to walk into a bank to ask my banker questions on how to manage my idle fund and l can easily control my expenses in case they are getting out of hands,” he added.

A major difference between Ziing and other Apps so far introduced into the Nigerian financial space is that it addresses other financial needs beyond payments.

“It is a one- stop -shop investment management App. You can save with it, track what trading looks like on the stock exchange without going through a broker just with a touch on your phone. Ziing can be used for international money transfer (both sending and receiving). For your latest stock prices, treasury bills prices, investment information, simply Ziing it. For cash, loans etc., Ziing it,”Nyamali enthused.

Ziing also offers its users access to their investment account outside the working days as it enables them to be able to meet their immediate financial needs at any time they needed it. “For instance you can put your money in a fixed deposit say at 13 percent and on a Saturday, with your phone, you can liquidate such an investment to create immediate access to your money. There is no need to have an investment fund (fixed deposit) separated from your current account with the Ziing App”, Investment One disclosed.

Speaking on the rationale behind the introduction of the app by his company, Nyamali said it was the need to provide access and control to players in the financial space both locally and internationally.

“If we are honest to ourselves we will realise the bulk of solutions we have seen in the banking space are that of payment, payments for subscriptions, bills etc. But the solution for access or control is largely lacking. For instance, l want to have access to my investments; l want control over my savings; monitor my expenditure; get investment information; investment education; take control of my finances etc.; those questions had no answers before the introduction of Ziing. That is why at Investment One, we identify that we need a tool called Ziing”, he explained.

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UBA, Japan Trade Join Forces to Promote MSMEs in Africa

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The United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc has indicated its preparedness to support the Japanese government in its drive to promote small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs) across Africa.

Chairman of UBA Group, Mr. Tony Elumelu, said this yesterday when members of the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), led by its CEO, Mr. Hiroyuki Ishige, visited the bank’s head office in Lagos.

Elumelu, who welcomed the guests, noted that the deliberations had earlier begun in Davos, Switzerland, adding that like UBA, JETRO shared the passion for transforming lives and helping to build businesses and trade across the world.

According to Elumelu, “When global leaders visit a country, they bring global attention. These investors who came from Davos have seen Nigeria as a business destination and have come to the country for the first time to visit us and see how things work here. The fact is that we all share the same passion to help transform lives and businesses around the world.

“We are aware of the various investments you have made recently to develop Africa and African businesses and this is what we also stand for at UBA – developing enterprises across the African continent. We believe that this visit will mark significant milestones and progress as we work towards empowering the youths and small and medium scale businesses.”

Elumelu stated that such collaboration and partnership would support employment creation, poverty alleviation and building sustainable businesses that contribute towards economic growth.

Also, Ishige, who was full of praises for the bank’s management, noted that he found Nigeria very interesting with many wonderful opportunities for investment. He said the JETRO aims to contribute to further development of Japan’s economy and society through promoting trade and investment as well as research in developing countries.

“We like what we have seen here and we want to seize this opportunity to invite UBA to our oncoming Afro Japanese Summit which will be taking place in Yokohoma, Japan this August.

“I am convinced it will be a great opportunity for both countries to showcase themselves and come together towards the common aim of building and supporting small and medium scale businesses,” the Japan Trade boss said.

He explained that JETRO through its domestic and oversea networks supports small and medium enterprises, adding that the organisation cooperates with relevant organisations, local governments, etc. to provide services that match the needs of the company.

“We will actively and efficiently work on exporting food products and on supporting overseas expansion of small and medium-sized enterprises and contribute to Japanese corporate activities as well as trade policies through surveys and research,” Ishige said.

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John Abayomi denies ownership of Instablog9ja, threatens to sue Linda Ikeji

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John Abayomi, Online Editor for Punch newspapers, has threatened a lawsuit against the publisher of Linda Ikeji blog, Linda Ikeji, for publishing false and malicious story about him.Abayomi through his lawyer, Falana and Falana’s Chambers claimed that the publication with the headline, ‘LIB Exclusive: Meet the owner of Instablog9ja-John Abayomi’ has put his life and that of his family in danger.

In the letter delivered to the blogger on Friday, Ikeji was asked to tender an unreserved apology within forty-eight hours or risk legal action.

Linda in the said publication had claimed that ‘the owner of instablog9ja is John Abayomi, a former online editor of Vanguard news and current online editor of Punch’.

However, Falana said the statement is untrue and unfounded, but only calculated to lower Abayomi’s esteem and damage his reputation and professional career.

“Your publication has put him in the harm’s way, thereby endangering his life and the lives of his family members. It has also attracted a lot of negative reactions from members of the public including celebrities who has been eager to know the face behind the blunt and sarcastic blog because of the method of reportage”.

“Your mendacious publication was clearly actuated by malice in that it was deliberately done to portray our client as an imposter, a fraudster and a blackmailer”

“In the light of the foregoing, we have our client’s firm instructions to demand an unqualified apology together with a retraction of the libelous publication in the edition of your blog (Linda Ikeji blog) in addition to having the retraction published on Instagram.

“However, if you fail or refuse to accede to our client’s demands within 48 hours of the receipt of this letter, we shall have no option than to initiate civil proceedings against you at the Lagos State High Court without further recourse to you,” reads the letter which was signed by Chukwuma Onwuemene (ESQ.).

A reliable source has also rubbished reports that Abayomi was summoned to a meeting by his employers, Punch Newspapers, over Linda Ikeji’s publication.

“It is totally untrue. There was no such meeting. John is a top-notch professional and everybody close to him, including his employers, are aware that Linda Ikeji’s publication was completely untrue,” the source said.

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Diamond Bank wins Women’s Market Champions Awards

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Nigeria’s leading retail bank, Diamond Bank Plc has been awarded the prestigious Women’s Market Champion honours by the Global Banking Alliance for Women. This year’s Women’s Market Champions reflect the global nature of the Global Banking Alliance for Women’s work hailing from diverse markets and regions.

According to Vanessa Van Landingha, Manager, Branding and Communications Strategy, Global Banking Alliance for Women (GBA), Diamond Bank was selected as one of the 2018 awardees for its outstanding impact on Women development and providing them with holistic solutions that meet their needs.

“The awarded institutions are true champions of women, working to unleash the economic potential of the female economy,” GBA Chief Executive Inez Murray said. “Their engagement with the GBA network is essential to the work we are doing to economically empower women worldwide and contributes to the Women’s Market success of the entire membership.” Landingha said.

Commenting on the award, Karimot Tukur, Head Consumer Banking said; “This award lends credence to the work that Diamond Bank has been doing over the years to advance the cause of women especially in the SME and Financial Inclusion space. Our Diamond Woman proposition is designed specifically for women, by women and dedicated to the economic empowerment of women.”

Diamond Bank Plc is one of Nigeria’s leading commercial bank providing enhanced customer experience through innovation and technology. Regarded as a supporter of Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises through SME lending, capacity building, business seminars and workshops.

Recently, the Bank recorded a landmark funds disbursement of over N1 billion to small business owners under the cash flow-based SME lending scheme in partnership with the Women’s World Banking (WWB), and this has earned the leading financial institution ranked among the top five SME-focused banks in Nigeria in the 2018 KPMG Customer Service Survey.

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