The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) says closing the infrastructure gap in the country will help accelerate economic transformation as part of efforts aimed at boosting national development.
It has also said that addressing the infrastructure gap in the country will provide an enabling environment for local and foreign capital, thereby expanding the nation’s productive base.
Outgoing President of LCCI, Mr Babatunde Ruwase, said these at the chamber’s 131st Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Thursday in Lagos.
Ruwase said another benefit of closing the infrastructure gap was that it would help to reduce the financial sector vulnerabilities, boost the non-oil sector and stimulate faster economic growth.
He explained that the economy was able to maintain a positive growth trajectory due to the recovery of oil price for the better part of the year.
Ruwase said the country achieved the feat because of its economy with a large market, abundant resources and a productive population in spite of some business constraints.
“The outgoing year was characterised by numerous opportunities, achievements and challenges.
“However, as investors, we had to contend with usual constraints of the business environment with issues of high interest rates, weak GDP growth, traffic gridlock, border closure, forex exclusion list and insecurity amongst others.
“It is hoped that efforts aimed at driving growth in the non-oil sector are vigorously pursued to stimulate faster growth of the economy.” Ruwase said.
He said the headline inflation was expected to trend higher in the coming months.
This, he attributed to a continued shutdown of the land borders, implementation of new minimum wage, proposed hike in Value Added Tax rate and festive-related consumer spending.
He advised the government to reduce dependence on debt financing to fund projects and start considering equity financing to raise capital.
Ruwase said, “Price pressure was largely driven by increase in food prices staged by closure of the country’s land borders, however, increasing inflation may further worsen the poverty status of many and this calls for concerns.”
He commended the government on the attainment of its 15 place upward movement in the 2020 Doing Business Report to 131st from 146th position last year.
“The ranking is Nigeria’s best since 2011 and this reflects the efforts of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC).
“However, Nigeria’s ranking in the West African Sub region is 5th position; we can do much better as the economic powerhouse of the region,” Ruwase said.
Speaking about the end of his tenure as LCCI President, he appealed that the same support given to him be extended to his successor.
Ruwase reiterated the chamber’s resolve at promoting policies that support private sector development and the general progress of the economy.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that the chamber’s surplus for the year transferred to accumulated fund was N50.95 million.
NAN also reports that LCCI elected Mrs Toki Mabogunje to succeed Ruwase as President for the next two years.
The election follows the expiration of Ruwase’s tenure, having served for two years.
Mabogunje’s investiture comes up on Saturday.
Edited & Vetted By: Olawunmi Ashafa/Oluwole Sogunle
FG, LASG inaugurates Eko MSME Fashion Hub-1
The Federal Government and the Lagos State Government on Friday inaugurated Eko Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Fashion Hub-1 at Old Alade Market, Ikeja, Lagos.
Speaking virtually during the inauguration, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, reiterated President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s commitment to supporting the growth and development of MSMEs in the country.
Osinbajo said with the launch of the Eko MSME Fashion Hub-1, MSMEs in and around Ikeja would no longer have to travel far to use the equipment.
According to him, the fashion equipment are expensive for individual businesses to procure by themselves, hence, the need for the fashion hub.
”With the full scale production line, this hub will enable production of a diverse range of clothing and garments, wedding dresses, office dress.
”Very soon, the products of the hub will be ubiquitous on the streets and will be sourced around the country.
”The fashion industry will be one of Nigeria’s biggest sources of revenue.
”The shared facility scheme which we are launching today and this particular one seeks to provide high quality operating equipment which small businesses can access at a reasonable cost.
”It help reduce operating cost for users, allowing them to invest their savings in expanding their businesses and hiring more staff
”MSMEs are the engine for Nigeria’s economy because when they thrive, the country thrives and when they struggle, the country struggles,” he said.
The vice president said plans were also ongoing to commission similar facilities at Kaduna, Anambra and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) before the end of the year.
According to him, the Fashion Hub 1 was expected to serve 380 Small and Medium Enterprises daily.
Osinbajo said that the federal government was committed to ensuring that MSMEs thrived through access to credit from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Development Bank of Nigeria and Bank of Industry (BoI).
He charged other state governments and the Organised Private Sector to emulate initiatives that would engender the development of MSME across the country.
Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said that in spite of the efforts of the small and medium enterprises, only about 40 per cent ever survive beyond five years.
Sanwo-Olu said that this made it impossible for the small businesses to contribute their quota to the country’s socio-economic growth on a sustainable basis.
He said that the shared facility that was being commissioned and handed over to the community was certainly a step in the right direction.
According to him, it is a win-win situation for everybody as it shows the progressive dedication to the eradication of poverty and the economic emancipation of the people
”We are here to witness the implementation of an innovative strategy that is expected to re-energise the fashion industry, stimulate creativity, and also create employment opportunities for our teeming population.
”The destiny of several Lagosians is about to positively change because of this facility. This is the beginning of many victories over unemployment and poverty,” the government said.
Also, Mrs Mariam Katagum, Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, said the shared facility would provide a conducive environment for the SME space.
Katagum said that the initiative was one of the key take aways of the MSME clinic chaired by the vice president.
She said that shared facilities were effective tools that could address infrastructure challenges, which had hindered the growth of SMEs.
The minister commended the Lagos State Government for the laudable initiative, particularly at this time when support for SMEs was critical amid the pandemic.
Dr Lola Akande, Lagos State Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, said that the centre was the first phase of the shared MSME Fashion facility.
Akande said that the facility was equipped with state-of-the-art machinery such as industrial button-hole machines, monogram machines, among others.
”This would serve for suits and shirts, tinko machines, straight sewing industrial machines, industrial embroidery machines, amongst others, to afford MSMEs in the fashion space the opportunity to utilise them for a token,” she said.
The commissioner said that the facility would also enhance productivity of quality apparel capable of competing favourably globally.
”In so doing, skilled and semi-skilled fashion designers who ordinarily would be thwarted by prohibitive start-up expenses are availed the privilege of access to these industrial machines for a token.
”This is aimed at ultimately creating jobs, boosting trade and commerce, improving income and increasing GDP as a corollary.
”This centre is also intended for capacity building and continued upskilling of those in the fashion industry; after all, education is known to be a life-long process,” she said.
The Managing Director, Access Bank Plc, Mr Herbert Wigwe, while acknowledging the outstanding growth of the Nigerian fashion industry, reaffirmed the bank’s commitment to grow the nation’s fashion industry.
”We will continue to partner with the fashion industry, because we believe it will boost local growth of SMEs in that space,” Wigwe said.
Edited By: Wale Ojetimi
LCCI begins virtual edition of ICTEL Expo
Dr Muda Yusuf, the Director-General LCCI, made this known in a statement to newsmen on Friday in Lagos.
He said that the Expo, scheduled to take place virtually on Sept. 22 and Sept. 23 has as the theme: “Exploring Opportunities in the Digital Economy’’.
“This year’s edition promises to be the best ever in the series, especially with the theme.
“This is intended to create a platform to discuss strategies for economic diversification and business sustainability with particular focus on ICT, especially with the current challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There will also be virtual conferences and exhibitions during the two-day event,” he said.
The D-G said that relevant agencies and departments of government would be exhibiting and attending to other exhibitors and participants.
He said that some government ministries, departments and agencies had confirmed participation.
They include the Ministry of Communications, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), amongst others.
Special guests are the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami, and the Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta.
Mrs Funke Opeke, the Managing Director, MainOne Cable and Chairman, Presidential Committee on National Broadband Plan, is expected to deliver the keynote address on the first day.
While Mr Victor Eburajolo, the Deputy Group Managing Director, Kewalram Group, will be delivering the keynote address on the second day.
Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Grace Yussuf
NIGCOMSAT partners other satellite agencies to power 1st African Satellite-Based Augmentation System
This is contained in a statement by NIGCOMSAT General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Mr Adamu Idris in Abuja on Thursday.
According to him, the aim is to provide the first SBAS open service in this part of the world on NigComSat-1R satellite, a communications satellite managed and operated by NIGCOMSAT Ltd under the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy of Nigeria.
He said the open service was provided as part of the ‘SBAS for Africa and Indian Ocean’ programme which pursue the autonomous provision over the continent of SBAS services to augment the performances of the satellite navigation constellations GPS and Galileo.
“We are proud to be part of this ambitious programme to provide satellite navigation services in the African and Indian Ocean region.
” The use of our geostationary communication satellite, NigComSat-1R navigation payload to broadcast the first signal will be Africa’s premier communications satellite contribution to SBAS as a regional satellite-based augmentation system for the continent,”she said.
” The SBAS services will improve flight safety and efficiency in Africa, as well as support safety and commercial applications related to land, sea and rail transportation which are beneficial to the economy.
” It will follow the policy direction of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami in digitalising the Nigerian economy,”he said.
Lawal said the services was expected to grow the GDP and value propensity not only in the communications sector but aviation, maritime, railtransport, precision agriculture, survey, oil and gas,
He said it would boost security of strategic national infrastructure and mass market applications for sustainable development beyond Nigerian shores.
Lawal said the open service essentially aimed at carrying out technical trials as well as partnering with airlines, field demonstrations for aircraft and rotorcraft, to demonstrate the benefits of the future operational safety-of-life SBAS services expected from 2024.
“It is expected to include Precise Point Positioning (PPP) and emergency warning service to populations, which performance will be proven through demonstrations.
” The signal-in-space is generated by a dedicated system tested, developed as part of the SBAS for Africa and Indian Ocean preliminary design phase, which is financed by the EU and awarded to Thales Alenia space, a joint venture between Thales 67 per cent and Leonardo 33 per cent .
“The SBAS for Africa and Indian Ocean is based on the European EGNOS developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) acting under delegation of the European Commission and operated by the European GNSS agency GSA, “he said.
” It is compliant to the standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation and the Minimum Operational Performance Standard developed by the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) organisation.
” It will be visible in the whole of Africa and the Indian Ocean up to the West Australian coast and also in Europe,” he said.
Edited By: Ali Baba-Inuwa
Botswana raises limits for domestic borrowing to nearly $3bn
Botswana’s National Assembly endorsed the doubling of the southern African country’s domestic borrowing to 30 billion pula (about $2.9 billion).
Thapelo Matsheka, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, had approached parliament seeking the approval of lawmakers to increase the bond programme ceiling from 15 billion pula (about $1.45 billion).
Against the backdrop of an economic slowdown caused by COVID-19 pandemic, Matsheka told parliament that increasing the limit for domestic borrowing was one of the fundamental options to fund the national budget.
Botswana, which boasts one of the highest sovereign credit ratings in Africa, is conventionally unenthusiastic about external funders for loans before exhausting all the available options domestically, hence increasing the bond programme ceiling.
“The development would cultivate more activity in the local capital market, which in turn would reduce the risks of drawing down from reserves and the risk of borrowing externally at exorbitant interest and foreign exchange rates,’’ Matsheka said after the parliamentary approval.
Moses Pelaelo, Governor of the Bank of Botswana, said borrowing more from local capital market offers the government a viable avenue for cost-effective domestic resource mobilisation for long-term investment and funding of government projects.
“This will result in a more frequent issuance of a sufficient quantum of domestic government securities in a predictable arrangement that will hopefully attract a larger pool of participants and support deficit financing with lower risks,’’ Pelaelo said.
The latest information from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development indicate that Botswana’s gross domestic product (GDP) will shrink by 13.1 per cent in the 2020/21 financial year, with the budget deficit set to reach 5.9 per cent of the GDP.
According to the information, the projected shrinking of the GDP is the worst since the global recession of 2009, when the economy of the world’s second-biggest diamond producer by value shrank 7.7 per cent.
Edited By: Fatima Sule/Abdulfatah Babatunde