African Economic Conference (AEC) will hold its thirteenth edition from 3-5 December 2018 in Kigali Rwanda

African Economic Conference (AEC) will hold its thirteenth edition from 3-5 December 2018 in Kigali Rwanda

The African Economic Conference (AEC) will hold its thirteenth edition from 3-5 December 2018 in Kigali Rwanda, under the theme: Regional and Continental Integration for Africa’s Development.

The conference, which is held annually, convenes key development actors, academics, researchers, development partners, politicians and financiers. This year, Paul Collier, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Oxford University Blavatnik School of Government, will give the keynote speech.

Bank Director for Regional Integration, Moono Mupotola, said the meeting would build on the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) signed by 44 African nations in Kigali in March 2018.

“This, not only signified African unity but also the possibilities of what Africa could become from a developmental perspective. The possibilities of larger markets attracting investment, improvement in Africa’s productive capacity due to economies of scale and the possibilities of increased movement of goods, services and people across borders,” Mupotola highlighted.

This year’s meeting will focus, among others, on initiatives for accelerating progress in infrastructure integration, including the removal of barriers for movement of people goods and services across borders. Experts will share views, best practices and lessons on transforming regional institutions for more effective policy and institutional harmonization in the context of the new Africa Continental Free Trade Area, and other continent wide agendas including Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the global Agenda 2030.

The information, technology and digital revolutions are vital to transforming the way of doing business across the continent, thus the need for experts to examine how to better integrate public and private efforts to improve the environment for conducting business in Africa. The meeting will also examine way to reduce the cost of business and building viable value chains for agriculture, commodities and services.

“Our job as the African Development Bank is to make the AfCFTA a reality by helping our regional member countries implement the agreement. The Bank has already provided an initial grant of about US$5 million to support the Africa Union Commission in making the AfCFTA a reality,” Mupotola underscored.

The African Economic Conference is jointly organized by the African Development Bank, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

African Development Bank has approved a US$50 million line of credit to Nigeria’s Fidelity Bank Plc to support small and medium sized

African Development Bank approves US$50mn facility to support SMEs and Women Owned Enterprises in Nigeria

The African Development Bank has approved a US$50 million line of credit to Nigeria’s Fidelity Bank Plc to support small and medium sized, and women-owned enterprises in selected transformative sectors, including close to a hundred SMEs in manufacturing, health and education.

Approved by the Bank’s Board on 10 October 2018, the facility is fully dedicated to financing micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs), with a minimum of 30 percent going to women-owned enterprises. The loan will enhance Fidelity Bank’s liquidity and help meet the demand for medium-term funding to players in the target sectors, contributing to improved quality of lives, job and wealth creation and tax-revenue generation.

The facility complements the Government of Nigeria’s long-term development strategy, as espoused in its Vision 20:2020 agenda. Aligned with Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017-2020 (ERPG), the funding will ultimately boost enterprise competitiveness and expand Nigeria’s economic base. The ERPG seeks to stimulate Nigeria’s economic growth, catalyse macroeconomic stability, foster diversification of the economy, and enhance social inclusion as well as governance.

SMEs account for 30 percent of Fidelity Bank’s loan portfolio. The selection of the tier 2 Nigerian bank for this seven-year credit facility (with a grace period of two years) is based on its strong niche presence in the SME and mid-sized corporates space. It is also in recognition of the bank’s credit management and strong track record with the African Development Bank. The Nigerian lender has previously received US$18 million and US$75 million lines of credit from the development finance institution in 2001 and 2013, respectively.

“Fidelity Bank is a niche player, focused on the SME space and this US$50 million credit line will contribute to strengthening its presence in its key market segments,” said Ebrima Faal, Senior Director, Nigeria Country Office at the African Development Bank. “The Nigerian financial institution also continues to meet its ongoing credit obligations under the terms of previous support received from the African Development Bank.”

The line of credit to the Nigerian financial institution is consistent with the Bank’s Ten-Year Strategy (2013–2022). It also aligns with two of its High 5 priorities – Industrialize Africa and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

Founded in 1987, Fidelity Bank Plc has grown from its marginal position into a stable banking institution. Currently the 10th largest commercial bank in Nigeria by asset size, it was listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in May 2005. It has a broad client base of about four million customers nationwide, served from a network of over 240 branches and business offices, supported by alternative service delivery channels like ATMs, mobile and electronic banking, and agency banking channels.

Following its renewed digital banking and retail drive, Fidelity Bank was ranked 4th best bank in Nigeria in the retail market segment in the KPMG Banking Industry Customer Satisfaction Survey (BICSS) in 2017.

The AFDB recently design integrated pest and disease management mechanisms for controlling the spread of the Fall Army Worm in East Africa.

African Development Bank leads pan-African campaign against Fall Army Worm

The AFDB recently convened a meeting of experts and stakeholders in the agricultural sector to design integrated pest and disease management mechanisms for controlling the spread of the Fall Army Worm in East Africa.

The Fall Army Worm or Spodoptera frugiperda is an invasive insect threatening food supplies and incomes of millions of African smallholder farmers. The multi-stakeholder, regional action plans to stop the menace of the worm in Africa falls under the Bank’s Technologies for African Agriculture Transformation (TAAT) agenda.

Held 11 and 12 October 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya, the meeting brought together government representatives and fall army worm response coordinators from Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, the Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda.

Also in attendance were representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock & Fisheries, regional and international stakeholders in the Agriculture sector. The United States Agency for International Development, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, the African Agricultural Technology Foundation and Syngenta Foundation were also represented at the meeting.

In his opening remarks, Joseph Coompson, the African Development Bank’s Regional Manager for Eastern Africa said: “Reports have shown that if no appropriate action is taken, fall army worm could cause maize yield losses of 21-53 percent – valued at US$2.48 to 6.187 billion, in 12 African countries within five years.”

This trend, if unchecked, “could significantly affect African countries which are already importing food estimated at US$35 billion annually and set to outstrip US$100 billion by 2026,” Coompson added.

Other speakers and participants addressed ineffective chemicals and cultural control methods to reduce the fall armyworm threat. “We look forward to leaving this meeting with technology options to deploy to farmers in the coming season,” said David Mwangi, Head of Plant Protection Services with Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture’s State Department for Crop Development.

Researchers from the FAO, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, the African Agricultural Technology Foundation and the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International, Syngenta, Corteva and Bayer also presented current initiatives and technologies for controlling the fall army worm.

Country focal persons outlined their plans, including financial, policy and regulatory reforms required for achieving quick wins in the fight against the worm in East Africa. They also discussed options for providing effective technologies for combating the worm to smallholder farmers. They observed that in Southern Africa, Fortenza Duo, a seed treatment pesticide from Syngenta Foundation, proved effective against the worm in the first 30 days after crop emergence.

“The submission of national and regional action plans to target millions of farmers shows the degree to which our “plan to action” approach against the fall army worm threat is being taken seriously and is galvanizing governments and farmers to protect not only fields, but livelihoods too,” said Chris Akem, TAAT Coordinator at IITA.

The Government of Rwanda has signed a €229.20 million funding agreement with the African Development Bank

Rwanda and African Development Bank sign €229 million loan agreements to finance electricity projects

The Government of Rwanda has signed a €229.20 million funding agreement with the African Development Bank to support the country’s program to improve electricity supply and expand access to electricity under the Scaling Up Electricity Access Program Phase II (SEAP II). This operation builds on the successful implementation of the Scaling Up Electricity Access Program (SEAP) approved by the Bank in 2013 with a combined estimated €39.74million loan and grant.

The operation involves a €165.59-million loan from African Development Bank and €63.61 million from the African Development Fund, the concessional arm of the Bank group. The two loans represent 8.2 percent of the Government’s estimated €2.85 billion budget for the Energy Sector Strategy Plan. It is the biggest single operation of the Bank to enable the government achieve its National Strategy for Transformation that among other objectives seeks to ensure that by 2024 all Rwandan households, health centers, schools and business enterprises are connected to reliable electricity.

The Bank’s contribution to SEAP-II will be for three fiscal years ending in 2021/22 and will be disbursed using the Results Based Financing (RBF) instrument, which ensures better risk management and the country’s highly developed results-driven approach.

The funding will support construction of 795 kms of Medium Voltage and 7,317 kms of Low Voltage lines, boosting nationwide connectivity and lighting up previously unserved communities. The program is expected to result in significant reductions of time and frequency of service interruption to customers and network losses and will ultimately contribute to ensuring financial sustainability of the country’s energy sector.

In the last seven years, overall access to electricity in Rwanda has more than doubled from 18 percent to 44 percent at the end of June 2018. The country has also shown strong commitment to achieving universal electricity access by 2024, using a combination of on-grid and off-grid solutions like solar home systems.

“The approved program will enable the Government to add over 193,000 new on-grid and over 124,000 off-grid connections,” said Amadou Hott the Bank’s Vice President for Power, Energy, Climate Change and Green Growth.

The Bank’s intervention will improve reliability of electricity supply, increase on-grid and off-grid access to renewable energy for households and commercial usage, and strengthen institutional capacity to deliver on the ambitious government energy program. Slightly over 4,000 people, 30 percent of them women, will receive technical, financial management and safety training. The Government of Rwanda welcomed the timeliness of the Bank’s support towards the county’s universal electricity access goal by 2024, and has committed to allocate the necessary resources for the successful implementation of the operation.

This support will be extended to the Energy Development Corporation Limited and Energy Utility Corporation Limited — subsidiaries of Rwanda Energy Group Limited, the government-owned utility which manages and operates the country’s energy infrastructure.

The SEAP II loan is aligned to the Bank’s 10-year strategy (2013-2022) and current Country Strategy Paper for Rwanda. It also supports three of the Bank’s High 5 priorities namely Light up and power Africa, Industrialize Africa and Improve the Quality of life for the people of Africa. Following the signing of this facility, the Bank’s Country Manager for Rwanda, Martha Phiri said that “the Bank’s energy portfolio in Rwanda will increase from €158.95 million to €388.74 million, supporting eight operations, three of which are being implemented jointly with neighboring states”.

The African Development Bank to invest the Naira equivalent of USD 10 million into the Chapel Hill Denham Nigeria Infrastructure Debt Fund

The African Development Bank to invest the Naira equivalent of USD 10 million into the Chapel Hill Denham Nigeria Infrastructure Debt Fund

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group has approved a Naira investment equivalent to US$ 10 million in Chapel Hill Denham Nigeria Infrastructure Debt Fund (NIDF).

This investment aims to meet the country’s infrastructure investment needs, including in the power and energy infrastructure sectors. NIDF is the first and the only listed local currency infrastructure debt fund in Africa.

The transaction is financed through the Bank’s ordinary capital resources allocated for private sector operations financing. It is expected to deliver significant development outcomes – private sector development through support to industrialization and diversification from conventional oil and gas. It will also help to strengthen capital markets harness domestic financial resources to fund critical infrastructure and human development by providing and improving access to basic services.

The Bank Group’s investment in NIDF will significantly boost the country’s infrastructure stock, including increased clean gas distribution and power generation (including through renewable energy) capacities. NIDF will also target investments in other key infrastructure sub-sectors such as transportation and logistics. The fund will meaningfully contribute to inclusive growth by supporting infrastructure development in Nigeria, which faces significant infrastructure deficits. Consequently, the funding will help improve the quality of life and the business environment.

The Project is aligned with the African Development Bank’s New Deal on Energy for Africa and High 5 priorities, particularly “Light Up and Power Africa”, “Industrialize Africa” and “Improve the Quality of Life for the People of Africa”. The project is also aligned with the Bank’s Climate Change Action Plan, which focuses on supporting infrastructure development and prioritizes the power sector and private sector development. The private Sector Operations strategy emphasizes the provision of equity capital to catalyze and crowd-in financing from external parties, which the Fund will achieve by tapping into financing from local institutional investors such as pension funds, insurance companies and asset managers.

Presenting the project to the Board, the Bank’s Vice President for Power, Energy, Climate Change and Green Growth, Amadou Hott, underscored the importance of the crowding-in effect to fill the infrastructure-financing gap in Nigeria in order to achieve universal energy access. “The Bank’s investment in NIDF will have a demonstration crowding-in other Nigerian institutional investors. This will enable the Bank to fill critical gaps in infrastructure financing, especially in the energy sector,” he said.

The Bank’s investment in the NIDF will catalyze private sector investments and is expected to unlock up to NGN134 billion from the private sector, especially from Pension fund administrators who have already invested NGN15.4 billion in NIDF. This is the first unit trust investment by the Bank, with expectations to replicate similar investments across the African continent.

NIDF provides long-term financing for infrastructure projects in Nigeria that is denominated in the local currency (Naira). It plays a critical role in correcting the current tenor and currency mismatch that is prevalent in infrastructure financing in Nigeria. The Director of the Energy Financial Solutions Department, Wale Shonibare addressed this in his presentation saying: “NIDF is addressing the issues of currency and tenor mismatch in infrastructure projects in Nigeria by providing loans that are denominated in the local currency, Naira, with proceeds in Naira, and also closely matching the loan tenor to the life of the asset.”

Established in June 2017, the NIDF is structured as a permanent capital vehicle. Its units are listed on the FMDQ OTC Exchange, Nigeria, and regulated by the Securities & Exchange Commission. The Fund has registered a programme for issuance of up to two billion Units with par value of NGN200 billion. Since its inception, it has raised an aggregate capital of more than NGN19.15 billion and currently has a portfolio of eight infrastructure loans.

The NIDF is sponsored by Chapel Hill Denham, an independent investment bank in Nigeria and managed by Chapel Hill Denham Management Limited. More information on NIDF is available at https://www.chapelhilldenham.com/nidf/

Quidax, Commits to Educating People on Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies

Quidax Says Cryptocurrency is the Future, Commits to Educating People on Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies

Quidax, Commits to Educating People on Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies

At the recently concluded Abuja Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence Roundtable (ABAR), which held on the 19th and 20th of October, Quidax, a Europe-based cryptocurrency exchange, called on the event’s attendees to position themselves to take advantage of the bounty the world blockchain and AI promises.

In his presentation, Buchi Okoro, CEO at Quidax, spoke about the importance of understanding cryptocurrencies as investors and business executives as it is the currency of the future.

According to Buchi, Quidax had been set up to enable people easily buy and sell cryptocurrencies with their local currencies with the higher goal of providing liquidity and tools to power cross-border remittance to and from emerging markets.

Quoting an email newsletter from renowned businessman and author, Robert Kiyosaki, Buchi stated that “Crypto is the future. It’s not a matter of “If” crypto will take down the entire financial world, it’s just a question of “when.”

Buchi stated that one of their objectives at Quidax was to increase the level of understanding about cryptocurrency and blockchain in Nigeria, shedding light on why they were glad to be a part of the event.

“We have been proud to partner with the organizers of Abuja Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence Roundtable and will ensure that we continue to develop and seek new partnerships that will increase the understanding of cryptocurrency and blockchain in Nigeria” he added.

In his conclusion, Buchi stated that there is a need for regulations to bring sanity to the space and protect the general populace but in the absence of that Quidax has taken steps as a responsible corporate citizen to protect its users and increase the level of awareness about cryptocurrencies.

The roundtable brought together players in Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence, the banking sector, industry players and government functionaries. The objective was to go beyond the hype about cryptocurrencies and provide a framework for thinking about what the convergence of Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence would mean to Nigeria’s economic prosperity agenda.

About Quidax

Quidax is a Europe-based digital assets exchange that provides an easy platform for users to send, receive, buy and sell, digital currencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Bitcoin Gold using their local currencies.

Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, has inaugurated the Nigerian Content Research and Development Council (NCRDC).

Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, has inaugurated the Nigerian Content Research and Development Council (NCRDC).

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, has inaugurated the Nigerian Content Research and Development Council (NCRDC).

The Council is expected to advise the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) on matters relating to research, development and innovation strategy for the oil and gas industry.

The Council’s terms of reference are to “advise the board on criteria and methodology for prioritising market cum demand-driven research projects, advise the board on the appropriate strategies and governance arrangements to attract funding for research projects and advise the board on criteria for the award of research grants and review progress on impact of such grants on research projects, product development and innovation.”

Inaugurating the council, Kachikwu commended NCDMB for accomplishing the commitment it made at the 2017 Research and Development Fair.

He described the R&D council as a timely innovation that would deepen the achievements recorded in Nigerian content implementation.

He charged the members to deliver on their mandate, which would help redress the failings of the oil and gas sector to the Nigerian economy.

The minister underlined that NCDMB had transitioned from just being a policy maker to also functioning as a project promoter. He commended the board for investing in the Waltersmith Modular refinery, developing industrial parks in Bayelsa and Cross River States and catalysing the partial integration of the Egina FPSO.

In his comments, the executive secretary of NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Wabote, explained that the framework of the board’s research and development provides that all research topics or thematic areas must be based on industry challenge or needs.

, Ayodele Fayose, on Monday appeared before a Federal High Court, Lagos, charged with N6.9 billion fraud.

Fayose pleads not guilty to N6.9bn fraud charge, remanded in EFCC custody

 

After being in custody for five days, the immediate past Governor of Ekiti, Ayodele Fayose, on Monday appeared before a Federal High Court, Lagos, charged with N6.9 billion fraud. Fayose is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alongside his company — Spotless Investment Ltd — on an 11-count charge of N6.9 billion fraud.

He, however, pleaded innocence of the offences.

After the arraignment of the accused, the defense counsel, Mr Kanu Agabi (SAN), who is a former Attorney General of the Federation, informed the court of a motion on notice for the bail of the accused. He told the court that same had been served on the prosecution.

In response, the EFCC Prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, confirmed service of the bail application, but told the court that he required time to reply. Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, consequently, adjourned the case until Oct. 24 for the hearing of the bail application. Meanwhile, following a plea by defence counsel on the temporary remand of Fayose, the court ordered that he be remanded in custody of the EFCC pending bail.

According to the charge, on June 17, 2014, Fayose and Agbele were said to have taken possession of the sum of N1.2 billion for purposes of funding his gubernatorial election in Ekiti State which sum they reasonably ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.

Fayose was alleged to have received a cash payment of the sum of five million dollars, (about N18 billion) from the then Minister of State for Defence, Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro, without going through any financial institution and which sum exceeded the amount allowed by law.

He was also alleged to have retained the sum of N300 million in his Zenith Bank account and took control of the aggregate sums of about N622 million which sum he ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.

Fayose was alleged to have procured De Privateer Ltd and Still Earth Ltd, to retain in their Zenith Bank and the FCMB accounts, the aggregate sums of N851 million which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.

Besides, the accused was alleged to have used the aggregate sums of about N1.6 billion to acquire properties in Lagos and Abuja, which sums he reasonably ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.

The accused was also alleged to have used the sum of N200 million to acquire a property in Abuja in the name of his elder sister, Moji Oladeji, which sum he ought to know also forms crime proceeds. The offences, according to the EFCC, contravene the provisions of sections 15(1), 15 (2), 15 (3), 16(2)(b), 16 (d), and 18 (c) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011.