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Obasanjo, Saraki, Ejindu, others, call for smoother trade ties between Nigeria and Angola

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It was a brainstorming session last Saturday when stakeholders and top business magnates met at Angola-Nigeria Diplomatic-Business Investment organised by the Angola-Nigeria Business Council.

 

 

Notable personalities that spoke at the event held at the prestigious Radisson Blu, Victoria Island, Lagos include Nigeria’s former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, Former senate president, Olusola Saraki, notable businesswoman and architect, Princess Fifi Ejindu, Edem Duke, Segun Awolowo, Vice President of the Council, Engineer Antonio dos Santos Domingos, among several others.

 

 

The former President, Obasanjo called for increased bilateral relations between Nigeria and Angola.

 


Obasanjo, who was also a special guest of honour at the event, said the meeting focused on the potential for enhanced collaboration between the two countries.

 

 

According to him, the meeting also emphasises the need to boost trade volume within Africa, which reflects a commitment to advancing economic partnerships on the continent.

 

 

The former President advised that attention should be on African countries’ benefits from their own products, as it aligns with the goal of promoting intra-African trade and economic self-sufficiency.

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He expressed concerns about infrastructural deficits, particularly in transportation and highlighted the challenges that needed to be addressed to facilitate seamless trade between nations.

 

 

“One of the things the leaders of the post-independence achieved is to promote the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA),” he said.

 

 

Also, the Secretary of the National Action Committee of AFCFTA, Nigeria, Olusegun Awolowo, said the lack of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) between Nigeria and Angola underscored the untapped potential for economic engagement between the two largest oil exporters in Africa.

 

 

“Sadly, there is no Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) between Nigeria and Angola. This means trade between the two biggest oil exporters is zero, and this is not good enough.

 

“Angola is importing from the rest of the world what it can actually get from Nigeria and Nigeria doing likewise, we should trade between ourselves.

 

 

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“Comparatively, we supply what they don’t have and they also supply what we don’t have. Former President Obasanjo has mentioned some areas that need more collaboration.

 

 

“It’s true we have some infrastructural deficits which both government and the private organisations can also latch on to invest,” he said.

 

 

Speaking on the efforts to address trade barriers and streamline visa processes, the President of the Angola-Nigeria Business Council, Fifi Ejindu, called for a positive step toward fostering smoother trade ties between Nigeria and Angola.

 

 

According to her, the support from Angolan government authorities further reinforces the potential for progress in this regard.

 

 

Princess Ejindu said that the engagement of Nigerian investors and the anticipated business activations in Angola indicated growing interest and participation in the trade initiatives discussed.

 

 

Armando Manuel, a former Minister of Finance in Angola, said that a positive assessment of the recent diplomatic-business investment meeting signalled the fruitful nature of the discussions and the potential for tangible outcomes in the near future.

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“We are awaiting Nigerian investors to come to Angola because we already have the expertise in various sectors.

 

 

Saraki, who is also a patron of the council, encouraged that stakeholders of the council in Angola and Nigeria should walk the talk and commence action immediately to encourage investment between the two countries.

 

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Petrol production delayed due to fire incident, says Dangote

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Aliko Dangote, chairman of Dangote Industries Limited, says petrol production was disrupted due to a fire incident that occurred at its refinery.

 

On May 18, Dangote said the refinery would begin producing petrol that month, adding that Nigeria would not have to import the product again.

 

However, on June 11, he said due to a minor delay, the commencement of petrol supply has been postponed to July.

 

Speaking to journalists at his refinery in Lagos on Saturday, Africa’s richest man said premium motor spirit (PMS) will be ready by August.

 

“PMS was supposed to be out by July but we had a fire incident,” the billionaire said.

 

“The incident disrupted us for a few days but latest 10 or 12 of August, PMS will be ready.”

 

A section of the Dangote Petroleum Refinery caught fire on June 26.

 

Anthony Chiejina, a spokesperson at Dangote Industries Limited, told TheCable that the incident occurred at the effluent treatment plant (ETP).

 

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An ETP is a type of wastewater treatment method which is specifically designed to purify industrial wastewater for its reuse — to release safe water to the environment from the harmful effects caused by the effluent.

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Dangote halting proposed investment in steel to avoid ‘monopoly’ accusation  

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Aliko Dangote, chairman of Dangote Industries Limited, says the company will no longer continue with plans to enter Nigeria’s steel industry.

 

Dangote’s threat comes two months after his company said it was making plans to invest in the steel industry and expand the economy.

 

Addressing journalists at his refinery in Lagos on Saturday, the billionaire said the organisation’s board decided to avoid the steel industry “to prevent accusations of being branded a monopoly”.

 

Dangote also said the claim in some quarters that his group of companies enjoy monopoly is not true.

 

“You know, about doing a new business which we announced, that is, steel. Actually, our board has decided that we shouldn’t do the steel because if we do the steel business, we will be called all sorts of names like monopoly,” he said.

 

“And then also, imports will be encouraged. So we don’t want to go into that.

 

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“If you look at all our operations at Dangote (Group), we add value; we take local raw materials and turn them into products, and we sell.

 

“We have never consciously or unconsciously stopped anybody from doing the same business that we are doing.

 

“When we first came into cement production, it was only Lafarge that was operating here in Nigeria… Nobody ever called Lafarge a monopoly,” he said.

 

He said labelling his group of companies as monopolistic is disheartening.

 

“Monopoly is when you stop people, you block them through legal means. No, it is a level playing field whereby whatever Dangote was given in cement, for example, other people were given because some of them even got more than us,” he added.

 

Dangote, however, encouraged Nigerians to invest in the industry to help boost the country’s economy.

 

“Let other Nigerians go and do it. We are not the only Nigerians here. There are some Nigerians with more cash than us,” the billionaire said.

 

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Dangote said people “should bring that money from Dubai and other parts of the world and invest in our fatherland”.

 

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IMF downgrades Nigeria’s economic growth forecast to 3.1%

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The International Monetary Fund has cut its forecast for Nigeria’s economic growth in 2024 to 3.1 per cent.

 

The downgrade is contained in a newly released report ‘in the July 2024 World Economic Outlook’ published Tuesday.

 

The IMF cited a weaker growth recorded in the first quarter of the year, Q1’24 as reason for the new forecast.

 

The downgrade represents 0.2 percentage points below the earlier forecast of 3.3 per cent.
The downgrade followed weaker-than-expected Gross Domestic Product, GDP, and growth recorded by the country in Q1’23.

 

The IMF however retained its 3.0 per cent forecast for Nigeria’s economic growth in 2025.

 

It would be recalled that Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), showed that Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), growth dropped, quarter-on-quarter, QoQ to 2.98 per cent in Q1’24 from 3.46 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2023, Q3’23.

 

As a result of the lower forecast for Nigeria’s economic growth, the IMF also downgraded its forecast for Sub-Saharan economic growth in 2024 to 3.7 per cent from the April WEO forecast of 3.8 per cent. It however raised its economic growth forecast for the region in 2025 to 4.1 per cent from 4.0.

 

“The forecast for growth in sub-Saharan Africa is revised downward, mainly as a result of a 0.2 percentage point downward revision to the growth outlook in Nigeria amid weaker than expected activity in the first quarter of this year,” the IMF said.

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For the global economy, the IMF retained its growth forecasts of 3.2 per cent in 2024 and 3.3 per cent in 2025.

 

The IMF said: “The Global Economy in a Sticky Spot Global growth is projected to be in line with the April 2024 World Economic Outlook (WEO) forecast, at 3.2 per cent in 2024 and 3.3 per cent in 2025.

 

“However, varied momentum in activity at the turn of the year has somewhat narrowed the output divergence across economies as cyclical factors wane and activity becomes better aligned with its potential.

“Services price inflation is holding up progress on disinflation, which is complicating monetary policy normalization. Upside risks to inflation have thus increased, raising the prospect of higher-for-even-longer interest rates, in the context of escalating trade tensions and increased policy uncertainty.

 

“To manage these risks and preserve growth, the policy mix should be sequenced carefully to achieve price stability and replenish diminished buffers.”

 

The development comes on the heels of Nigeria’s inflation figure reaching a new high, hitting 34.19 % for June 2024, according to the latest data from the NBS.

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This is an increase of 0.24% compared to the inflation figure for May 2024 released by the NBS.

“In June 2024, the headline inflation rate increased to 34.19% relative to the May 2024 headline inflation rate which was 33.95%. Looking at the movement, the June 2024 headline inflation rate showed an increase of 0.24% points when compared to the May 2024 headline inflation rate,” the NBS said in its Consumer Price Index (CPI) – which measures the average change over time in the prices of goods and services consumed by people for day-to-day living – released on Monday.

 

“On a year-on-year basis, the headline inflation rate was 11.40% points higher compared to the rate recorded in June 2023, which was 22.79%.”

 

According to the NBS, the headline inflation rate, year-on-year basis, jumped in June 2024 when compared to the same month in the last year.

 

It said on a month-on-month basis, the headline inflation rate in June 2024 was 2.31%, 0.17% higher than the rate recorded in May 2024 (2.14%).

 

“This means that in the month of June 2024, the rate of increase in the average price level is higher than the rate of increase in the average price level in May 2024,” the agency said.

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As expected, there was a rise in food inflation for June 2024 in comparison with the figure recorded in May 2024.

 

“On a month-on-month basis, the Food inflation rate in June 2024 was 2.55% which shows a 0.26% increase compared to the rate recorded in May 2024 (2.28%),” the CPI report read.

 

According to the NBS, this hike was triggered by a rise in the average prices of food items such as groundnut oil, palm oil, etc (oil & fats class), water yam, cocoyam, cassava, etc (potatoes, yam & other tubers class), tobacco, catfish fresh, croaker, mudfish fresh, snail, etc, (fish class).

 

The Federal Government had in the wake of the galloping prices of essential commodities, reeled out a raft of measures to address the challenge. It recently suspended duties, tariffs, and taxes on the importation of maize, husked brown rice, wheat, and cowpeas through the country’s land and sea borders, for 150 days.

 

It also approved the procurement of 2,000 tractors, and 1,200 trailers and set up a committee to help in proffering solutions to the food crisis rocking the nation.

 

Experts have blamed insecurity, lack of equipment, and other issues as major challenges affecting food production in Nigeria.

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