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NSE trades 273.137m shares worth N3.18b

nse Investors on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) on Friday traded 273.137 million shares worth N3.18 billion in 5,065 deals.

Naija247news reports that this was against the 261.840 million shares valued at N2.71 billion traded in 4,700 deals on Thursday.

The All-Share Index appreciated by 7.34 points or 0.02 per cent to close at 40,773.50 from the 40,766.16 recorded on Thursday.

The Market Capitalisation, which opened at N13.067 trillion, grew by N3 billion or 0.02 per cent to close at N13.070 trillion.

NAN reports that UACN and Dangote Cement topped the price gainers’ chart with N2 each to close at N69 and N240 per share respectively.

OkomuOil trailed with N1.45 to close at N42.45 per share,

ConOil gained 98k to close at N50.98, while Presco appreciated by 37k to close at N43.99 per share.

On the other hand, Nigerian Breweries led the losers’ table by 93k to close at N154 per share.

Oando followed with a loss of 88k to close at N21.83, while Zenith Bank shed 77k to close at N22.23 per share.

Ashaka Cement dipped by 37k to close at N19.11, while Access Bank depreciated by 29k to close at N8.79 per share.

The financial services sector remained the investors’ delight as Diamond Bank emerged the most traded stock, accounting for 26.79 million shares valued at N183.23 million in 68 deals.

Zenith Bank followed with 22.69 million shares worth N508.02 million traded by investors in 377 deals, while FBN Holdings traded 20.47 million shares worth N294.34 million in 555 deals.

Nigeria got $23m grant from GEF to implement environmental projects — official

Nigeria has received grants totalling 23 million dollars in four years from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), under its “Big Full Size” project funding, a desk officer, has said.

Mrs Halima Mohammed, GEF’s Desk Officer in the Federal Ministry of Environment, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Wednesday.

Mohammed said that the grants were approved to implement various environmental projects across the country.

NAN reports that GEF is the largest funder of environmental initiatives in the world, which also provides grants for projects related to biodiversity and climate change.

Other focal areas of its projects are international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and Persistent Organic Pollutants.

Mohammed said that the fund was being used to implement projects in the 5th replenishment cycle which, according to her, will end in June 2014.

“The 23 million dollars is used under three focal areas — climate change, biodiversity and land degradation.

“ Under climate change, we received over 14 million dollars, biodiversity, five million dollars and land degradation, three million dollars.

“This allocation is under the System for Transparent Allocation of Resources (STAR), which allows GEF to allocate funds to countries to implement projects in specific focal areas.

“Apart from the 23 million dollars, we have benefitted under STAR, GEF has also approved over six million dollars for us to implement some projects under Persistent Organic Pollutants.’’

The officer said that the grant was to motivate the beneficiaries to commit resources to implementing environmental projects.

She explained the benefiting country was supposed to pay counterpart funding; if GEF approves a project for one dollar, Nigeria is supposed to give out two dollars as counterpart funding.

“Nigeria may decide on the modality to pay the counterpart funding, through the Federal Government, states or the communities.

“The communities contribute by giving lands and by the time you quantify this, they would have made a substantial contribution to the project.’’

According to her, GEF operates in a cycle of four years, called the replenishment cycle, noting that Nigeria is operating in the 5th cycle, which will end in June.

Mohammed, also an Assistant Director in the Federal Ministry of Environment, said Nigeria was supposed to be contributing at least four million dollars Special Drawing Rights (SDR) to the GEF trust fund.

She, however, expressed regret that Nigeria had not been diligent in paying its contributions as it had only redeemed the first and second replenishments.

“Nigeria paid only one million SDR in the third replenishment and we are still struggling with the fourth and fifth replenishments.

“The sixth replenishment cycle meeting has been concluded, during which Nigeria did not pledge anything because there is no point pledging without redeeming.

“This will affect the allocation that we are getting from GEF; so we need to be up and doing in the payment of our contribution in order to benefit more from the grants,” she added.

NAN reports that GEF works with countries to produce global environmental benefits in a manner that is country-driven and based on national priorities for sustainable development.

No plan to frustrate APC membership registration Rivers, says GDI

The Grassroots Development Initiative (GDI) said on Monday that there was no plan by the organisation to frustrate the ongoing APC membership registration in Rivers.

Mr Bright Amewhule, the President-General of the organisation, made the clarification in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Port Harcourt.

He said that the mission of GDI was to promote and protect the tenets of democracy, adding that violence and thuggery were not part of the philosophy of the organisation.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that APC in Rivers had accused both PDP and GDI for attacking its members, with a view to disrupting the ongoing membership registration in the state.

GDI is a Port Harcourt-based socio- political organisation founded by the supervising Minister of Education, Chief Nyesom Wike.

Describing both PDP and GDI as responsible organisations, Amewhule said that the duo would never be involved in irresponsible and dirty politics.

He said PDP and GDI had never been at any meeting aimed at disrupting the ongoing APC membership registration in the state.

Gov. Amaechi registers as APC member

amaechi_apcGov. Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers on Monday said that the All Progressives Congress (APC) would promote progress and create job opportunities if voted into power.

Amaechi spoke at Ubima, Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers, after registering as an APC member at Ubima Ward 8.

The governor’s wife, Judith, was also registered as a member of the party.

Amaechi said the party was on a rescue mission in the state and in the country.

“From what you can see, APC is the fastest growing party in Africa.

‘’All these people you are seeing here were once members of PDP; today, they joined me in formally moving to APC and the reason for moving to APC is that we are on a rescue mission.

“We are here to save Nigeria from PDP and when we do that, we will try and create employment opportunities for the army of unemployed Nigerians because you must grow the economy;’’ he said.

Amaechi frowned at the attacks on APC supporters who had gathered for the party’s ongoing membership registration exercise in Degema, Akuku-Toru and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas.

He said that despite the incidents, the APC would go on with the party membership registration in the affected areas.

Amaechi said he had notified the national secretariat of the APC of the development and had requested for more time to enable people in the affected areas to register.

He urged political players in the country to guarantee the right of all Nigerians to make their choices and express their views in a democratic Nigeria.

“We are saying that we are in a democracy and because we are in a democracy, people must be allowed to express their views and make their choices,” he said.

2014 budget will address civilians’ pensions — Okonjo-Iweala

Africa-Ngozi-Okonjo-Iweala-2Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, has said that the 2014 budget will address the demands of civilians’ pensions.

Okonjo-Iweala stated this in a statement issued by her Special Adviser on Media, Mr Paul Nwabuikwu, in Abuja on Thursday.

She explained that the inclusion of the civilians’ pensions in the budget contributed to its high recurrent expenditure.

She noted that the country was yet to fully absorb pension’s implications of the 2010 wage increases, explaining that beginning with 2013 budget, the Federal Government began tackling the payment of outstanding military pensions.

“Starting in 2013 budget, this administration commenced tackling the payment of outstanding military pensions, and Budget 2014 will further address civilian pensions.

“We have been under pressure from many quarters, including the Senate, to integrate the civilian component of pension, and doing so will further increase the recurrent budget.

“And, the 2014 budget will address the issue,’’ the minister said.

On excessive borrowing, she said that the flow of domestic borrowing had reduced from N852 billion in 2011 to N588 billion in 2013, adding that a borrowing of N572 billion had been proposed in the 2014 budget.

She described allegations being made about the borrowing as “unfortunate”, saying that she ensured the repayment of N75 billion of the nation’s domestic bonds.

“The minister further set up a sinking fund of N25 billion per annum to support the retirement of maturing bonds as above, rather than roll them over.

“This is directly contrary to the allegation that she is responsible for excessive borrowing within the economy.

“ To also help the country lower the cost of debt service, DMO has made a minor switch in debt strategy to external borrowing from multilateral finance organisations like the African Development Bank, China EXIM Bank, and the World Bank at zero or very concessionary interest rates,’’ the statement said.

Meanwhile, the minister has said that contrary to allegation by oil marketers of delays in payment of oil subsidy to them, the Federal Government paid the marketers in December 2013 and was processing their new claims.

She said: “We have been receiving enquiries regarding complaints by the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) that there have been delays in fuel subsidy payments.

“For the avoidance of doubt, here are the facts: based on verified claims by Petroleum Products and Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), we approved the payment of N137.7 billion to marketers on Dec. 17, 2013.

“This was in addition to other payments made in 2013. The details of these payments were subsequently published in various national newspapers.

“All verified claims by PPPRA as at that date were fully paid. Whatever payment that is outstanding was sent to the Federal Ministry of Finance after Dec. 17, 2013.”

She added that the Ministry of Finance would continue to ensure that marketers, who had successfully processed their documents, were paid and urged all qualified marketers to be patient with the process.

FCTA remits 3.2bn to PENCOM in 2013—Minister

FCT-Minister-Bala-Mohammed-600x401The FCT Administration remitted N3.2 billion to National Pension Commission (PENCOM) in 2013, a statement said in Abuja on Friday.

The statement, signed by Mr Muhammad Sule, the Chief Press Secretary to the FCT Minister, said the remittance was the contribution of staff of the administration and those of the six area councils.

It said the payment was done after due reconciliation between officials of the FCT Administration and PENCOM.

The statement added that about N200 million would be worked out to pay the commission as the outstanding contribution of the FCT pension fund.

It quoted the Minister of the FCT, Malam Bala Mohammed, as advising the management of the commission to invest the huge amount on infrastructural development instead of leaving such funds idle.

“The commission can check the law that established it in order to go into partnership with genuine investors to use such funds available thereby reducing the over dependence on foreign capital inflow.

“Such partnership can be guaranteed by a reputable bank in the country to take off the risk aspect of the investment from the commission.

“For instance, the Abuja Master Plan has about 79 districts with nine sector centres in the Federal Capital City and only 11 districts as well as two sector centres are developed.

“About 80 per cent of such districts have not been attended to due to the paucity of funds,” it said.

The minister promised to make land available to the commission to build its headquarters. (NAN)

INEC fixes March 12, March 19 for Osun, Ekiti voter registration

INEC-Chairman-Prof.-Attahiru-Jega-480x300The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed March 12 to March 19 for the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) for Osun and Ekiti governorship elections.

INEC Director (Voter Registration) Emmanuel Akem made the disclosure at a Stakeholders’ Forum on the “Status of Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) toward the 2015 general elections’’, on Thursday in Abuja.

According to him, this will enable the commission to accommodate all complaints that may arise from voter registration before the governorship elections.

He said that the commission would use Registration Area Officers (RAOs) for the registration at ward levels.

Akem added that INEC was looking at the possibility of using mobile platforms to carry out the registration.

He said that the CVR would correct some of the anomalies detected in the 2010 voter register, stressing that the CVR was not for those that could not register in 2010.

“We want to use the opportunity of the CVR to correct some of the mistakes in terms of biometrics in the previous registration.

“The choice of the registration centres at the ward has to do with increasing the participation in the process,’’ he said.

He, however, noted that those who could not register at the ward could come to the INEC Local Government offices to register.

The director also said that the commission would comply with the Electoral Act that places N100,000 fine on any person involved in multiple registrations.

Earlier, Dr Hussaini Abdu, Country Director, ActionAid International, Nigeria, said that the credibility of the voter registration was a major determinant of a credible election.

Abdu  said that the civil society organisation had been clamouring for credible voter register since 1998.

He noted that the country had not voted with a permanent voter card since 1999, adding that the development informed civil society organisations to engage in the proposed Electoral Act.

The country director emphasised that the INEC was approaching the continuous voter registration in a seasonal manner.

“You do not need a particular date to secure an international passport. You just walk into the office of the Immigration service and apply for one as long as you meet the requirement.

“That is the same way voter registration should be done. So, the continuous voter registration, as the name implies, should be continuous in its actual meaning,’’ Abdu said.

He suggested that INEC should have offices at both local and state levels where people could go to vote.

Abdu said that the civil society organisations were concerned about how to have systematic approach to the continuous voter registration.

Also Naija247news reports that the event was organised by the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) and four other international agencies.

17, 556 Nigerians got visas to Kenya in 2013 – Envoy

Mr Carlos Maluta, the Minister-Counsellor of the Kenya High Commission in Lagos, on Wednesday said that 17, 556 Nigerians were issued visas to visit Kenya in 2013.

Maluta told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that the number included Nigerians who visited for businesses, tourism, religious and education purposes.

He said the figure also included those transiting from Kenya to other countries.

“From available records, we are happy to announce that 17, 556 Nigerians got visas to Kenya for different purposes in 2013.

“This is an indication that many Nigerians actually visited Kenya last year, and many more are aspiring to visit, this year.

“We, therefore, strongly believe that there is a healthy relationship existing between Nigeria and Kenya,’’ Maluta said.

The envoy, however, said that about 70 per cent of the number got their visas at their points of entry into Kenya.

Maluta said that there was currently a growing level of interaction between the two countries in the areas of business, educational, religious and cultural exchanges.

The minister-counsellor said his country plans to partner the Nigerian Immigration Service to enhance movement between Nigeria and Kenya.

“The Kenya Government is exploring ways of removing obstacles to the free movement of Nigerians to Kenya.

“The government strongly believes that Kenya and Nigeria have a lot to share and exchange now and in the years ahead.

“We are, therefore, working with the Nigerian Immigration Service in facilitating both countries’ relations,’’ he said.

Maluta advised Nigerians to always take advantage of his country’s point of entry visa policy.

He assured Nigerians of speedy processing of their visas at their point of entry, if they had the necessary travel documents and return tickets. (NAN)

Tottenham Expected Line-Up For Trip to Newcastle; Townsend Set to Start

Certain starter. The Frenchman made some cracking saves against Everton and looks in top form.

Kyle Walker

Kyle Walker Tottenham

A clever assist against the Toffees capped off a good all-round showing for the right back. Walker faces a straight fight with Glen Johnson to start for England at next summer’s World Cup.

Danny Rose

The flying full-back put in some great crosses against Everton. There’s no reason why he can’t also be in England contention in the future.

Michael Dawson

The skipper divides opinion but, with Chiriches injured and Kaboul lacking match-fitness, he’s a certain starter.

Jan Vertonghen

It is vitally important to Spurs’ top four hopes that the Belgian remains fit for the remainder of the season.

Etienne Capoue

The Frenchman has only started one league game under Tim Sherwood – the win at Old Trafford – but Nabil Bentaleb has played 90 minutes in Spurs’ last five league matches so the teenager could be rested against the Toon.

Mousa Dembele

Moussa Dembele Tottenham

If Capoue plays, the Belgian will almost certainly be asked to play an advanced role, as he did against Everton. Demebele has great skills but his decision making and vision are poor.

Paulinho 

Divides opinion and has been labelled ‘a Brazilian Jermaine Jenas’! But Paulinho has quality and is a certain starter in this one.

Andros Townsend

Aaron Lennon has looked jaded in recent weeks so expect Townsend to be given his first league start under Sherwood. The England man has been injured since December.

Emmanuel Adebayor

Emmanuel Adebayor Tottenham

The main man. The Togolese is reportedly a doubt but Sherwood will play him even if he’s only half fit.

Christian Eriksen

The Dane is again likely to be handed a free role from the left. When he’s on song, he class but he disappears too easily.

Spurs v Toon - Football tactics and formations

Chelsea Playmaker Eden Hazard ‘Flattered’ By PSG Interest

Eden-Hazard-ChelseaChelsea playmaker Eden Hazard has revealed that while he is ”flattered” to be mentioned in the same breath as Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain, he has absolutely no intention of swapping Stamford Bridge for the Parc des Princes next season, according to reports in the London Evening Standard.

The in-form Belgium international has been lighting up the Premier League so far this season, with the 23-year-old even netting a hat-trick in the west London club’s 3-0 win over Newcastle United in the Premier League at the Bridge on Saturday afternoon.

However, despite various reports in the January transfer window linking Hazard with a possible big-money switch to the French capital this summer, the player himself is adamant that he is happy with the Blues.

“There was never a question of leaving Chelsea. I feel good at this club, and I still have a lot of things to do here,” said Hazard.

“I’m flattered to read that PSG are interested in me. But that doesn’t worry me. I am certain of what I have in mind, where I’m going. No-one will change my mind. The objective is to be the best with Chelsea.

“A youngster like me learns on a daily basis by being in contact with seasoned pros like [Frank] Lampard, [John] Terry, [Petr] Cech, [Samuel] Eto’o. They have won so many things. “I try to inspire myself from what they do on a daily basis. It makes me grow. That’s why I think my best years are ahead of me.”

Manchester United Miss Out On Yet Another Midfield Target As Juventus Tie Star Man Down To New Long-Term Deal

Arturo-Vidal-JuventusPremier League champions Manchester United have suffered a huge blow after it was revealed that long-term midfield target Arturo Vidal has put pen to paper on a new long-term contract with Juventus, according to reports in the Daily Mail.

The Nigerian Buck Stops Here

11938_h.8.00860004-CROPPoor, corrupt and hopeless — that’s how Nigeria looked just 10 years ago, but now it’s Africa’s second-largest economy, and its future is increasingly promising.

Africa’s most-populous nation is growing twice as fast as its continental rival, South Africa, and holds nearly as much in foreign reserves, around $50 billion. Nigeria’s GDP may be smaller — $292 billion to South Africa’s $354 billion — but it is expected to catch up soon. The country’s GDP per capita also doubled from $1,400 in 2000 to an estimated $2,800 in 2012.

Africans have to start looking after themselves and working and trading with each other.

The secret weapon behind Nigeria’s economic renaissance? Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: the minister of finance and economy since 2011, who has led landmark reforms to combat corruption, reduce foreign debt and attract investment.

With a bachelor’s degree from Harvard and a Ph.D in regional economic development from MIT, Okonjo-Iweala spent 12 years at the World Bank, including five as managing director. In 2012, she narrowly lost an election to Jim Yong Kim to become the institution’s next president, despite winning the support of the Financial Times and Newsweek, which declared that if the competition “were a normal process, Jim Yong Kim wouldn’t stand a chance.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) talks with Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at the Presidential Villa in Abuja August 9, 2012. Clinton arrived in Africa's most populous nation on Thursday offering to help Nigerian President Goodlu

Source: Jacquelyn Martin/Corbis

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) talks with Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at the Presidential Villa in Abuja August 9, 2012.

Impressive CV aside, what makes this 59-year-old exceptional is her character. An optimist by nature and a realist by trade, Okonjo-Iweala is determined to change the world’s perception of Nigeria — and Nigerians’ perceptions of themselves.

“We are fed a diet of negativity about ourselves these days, and we must not allow that to stand,” she claims. “Africans have to start looking after themselves and working and trading with each other,” she adds.

An advocate of economic liberalism, Okonjo-Iweala is a booster for privatization and cutting governmental spending. And as one of just a few female finance ministers in the world, she considers her gender an advantage. “Being a woman makes you able to deal with a lot of things — and still keep sane,” she told The Guardian in a 2005 interview. “I think women have less ego. If someone’s saying things to make me feel bad, I don’t care as long as I get the job done.”

And getting the job done as the mother of four, she is quick to draw parallels between economic management and parenting: “If your child has been doing bad things and they come to you and say, ‘Mother, I want to change, please help me,’ would you say, ‘No. You’re hopeless. You can’t change?’”

There are many roadblocks on Nigeria’s path to prosperity — debt, corruption and oil dependency — and Okonjo-Iweala aims to eliminate them one by one.

Okonjo-Iweala believes in Nigeria’s potential for change. “It’s a country of spirit, entrepreneurship, drive of creativity, and I want all Nigerian people to know it’s a country that we can be proud of,” she says.

But there are many roadblocks on Nigeria’s path to prosperity — debt, corruption and oil dependency — and Okonjo-Iweala intends to eliminate them one by one.

She took her first major step in 2005 with an initiative that convinced the Paris Club of Creditors to cancel $18 billion (60 percent) of Nigeria’s external debt. Her vigorous campaign, which focused on investing Nigeria’s savings towards reaching the country’s Millennium Development Goals, convinced lenders to forgive most of the debt in exchange for paying off the remaining 40 percent with a portion of the nation’s energy revenues.

Next? Attract foreign investment — but to do so, Okonjo-Iweala needed to improve Nigeria’s business reputation by tackling its endemic corruption. She introduced the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act in 2006 and implemented new transparency practices such as publishing states’ budgets in the press.

Okonjo-Iweala also volunteered information to the Transparency International Group, a watchdog that had called Nigeria “the most corrupt place on Earth” in 2003 but now applauds efforts that have recovered $33 million to Nigeria’s coffers and locked up corrupt officials such as James Ibori, a governor who embezzled $79 million. And in May 2011, the ministry drafted tougher money-laundering policies and freedom of information legislation that allows citizens to access public records so they can hold officials and institutions accountable.

“Does it mean the problem is over?” Okonjo-Iweala asked in her TED Talk. “The answer is no. There’s still a long way to go, but that there’s a will there. And those successes are being chalked up on this very important fight.”

The minister’s next challenge was convincing western nations to invest, reforming Nigeria’s economy to make it more hospitable to foreign business and less dependent on oil. So far the country has managed to attract foreign investors in not only energy but also banking and telecoms. In 2012 alone, Nigeria received a net inflow of $85.73 billion in foreign direct investment, much of which came from Nigerians living abroad, mainly in Europe.

Occupy Nigeria Protesters with placards. -- Nigerians come out to protest against the removal of Fuel Subsidy by the President. Abuja, Nigeria. 6th January 2012

Source: Blazeotokpa/Corbis

Occupy Nigeria Protesters against the removal of the fuel subsidy, Abuja, Nigeria, January 6, 2012

Okonjo-Iweala’s efficiency has won admiration in the West. Time magazine called her “one of the world’s heroes”; Forbes named her one of the world’s most powerful women; and former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown hailed her ”a brilliant reformer.”

Yet she has also faced criticism, mostly for failing to use the country’s oil income to ease the poverty that affects 60 percent of the population. Despite a decade of 7 percent economic growth, poverty in Nigeria has worsened. Many citizens were similarly outraged by Okonjo-Iweala’s $240,000 salary, considerably higher than the $6,000 base ministerial salary, which she defends by insisting it is temporary, with the extra cost coming from a government-organized and donor-supported Diaspora Fund.

Okonjo-Iweala’s 2011 decision to remove a popular oil subsidy also cost her support, especially among the poorest citizens who perceive cheap fuel as the only benefit they receive from the government. Gas prices doubled and widespread disapproval led to the “Occupy Nigeria” protests in January 2012.

Her opposition also regularly accuses her of promoting the interests of Western finance ahead of Nigeria. Many blame Okonjo-Iweala’s policies for reducing funding to agriculture, a sector that still accounts for two-thirds of Nigerian jobs, in favor of sectors more attractive to foreigners such as telecommunications.

“I don’t think she is doing anything wrong,” counters Yet Zainab Usman, an expert in Nigerian economics at Oxford University. ”The problem is structural. It is crucial to grow the economy, but the industries that are driving growth — mostly oil but also banking and telecoms — are not job-generating ones. They require very skilled labor, and in a country with 70 percent illiteracy, this gap will inevitably take time to close.”

Okonjo-Iweala is determined to make Nigeria one of the world’s top 20 economies by 2020. Many in her country aren’t so optimistic, but it is her grit and belief in what’s possible that have already turned Nigeria into an example for other developing nations and a partner for wealthier countries.

“If you really want to be in Africa, think about investing,” she urges developed nations. “Because those who miss the boat now will miss it forever.”

Three Nigerian banks among world’s 500 most valuable brands

sanusi2Brand Finance Plc has named First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc and Zenith Bank Plc among the world’s 500 most valuable bank brands in its 2014 global rankings.

A statement by the organisation said on Tuesday in Lagos that by its study, “The Banker/Brand Finance Banking 500,” it rated First Bank as the seventh Africa’s Most Valuable Bank Brand and 382 globally.

The Banker/Brand Finance Banking 500 is an annual study conducted by Brand Finance Plc, a brand valuation consultancy firm.

According to the statement, the world’s biggest banks are ranked by their brand value, with the results reflecting industry trends and indicating future developments.

It said that First Bank in 2014 recorded a brand value of $228m following a 13.44 per cent increase over its $201m brand value ranking in 2013.

Guaranty Trust Bank is 10th on the African ladder, with a brand value of $191m, declining by nearly five per cent compared to its brand value of $201m recorded in 2013.

Zenith Bank was ranked 11th Africa’s most valuable banking brand, with a brand value of $174m in 2014, representing a marginal increase of 1.21 per cent over its $172m in 2013.

According to the statement, Standard Bank holds its position as Africa’s most valuable banking brand.

It said that Standard Bank of South Africa recorded a brand value growth of over 15 per cent, which took its total value to nearly $1.6 bn.

The statement said, “The $211m increase is by far the biggest improvement of many African banks and stands in marked contrast to other brands from South Africa.

“ABSA, Nedbank and First National Bank have all seen their brand values fall.

“Togo’s Ecobank, which is Africa’s most valuable bank brand to be based outside South Africa, has grown by 14.51 per cent to a total of $243m.”

It said that Morocco Banque Populaire re-entered The Banker/Brand Finance Banking 500 to bring the total number of African banks among the top 500 banks to 12.

The statement said that Wells Fargo held its position as the World’s most valuable banking brand, with a total brand value of over $30bn.

The Chief Executive Officer of Brand Finance Plc, David Haigh, said, “Nigerian banks have put in another impressive performance in the Brand Finance Banking 500 this year.”

The statement quoted Haigh as saying that a bank such as First Bank of Nigeria Limited has benefitted from prudent financial management and Nigeria’s economic growth.

He said, “However, the most important factor has been an understanding that banks must prioritise their intangible assets, measuring, monitoring and managing their brands to achieve sustainable growth and maximise value.”

Reacting, the Country Representative, Brand Finance, Babatunde Odumeru, told the News Agency of Nigeria that First Bank of Nigeria had continued to grow its brand value.

Odumeru said the bank had also moved up the global ranking, adding that it was a welcome development.

He told NAN that other banks such as GTB and Zenith had fared well.

He added, “However, this year’s global result indicates that Nigerian banks really need to do more in channelling their orientation towards managing and exploiting their intangible assets, which are fast becoming the key drivers of their businesses.

“Recognition of this fact is imperative as these assets are unique and require an efficient exploitation in order to maximise brand value.”

Brand Finance has offices in over 15 countries, including its headquarters in London.

All Bank Customers Must Begin Finger Print Registration This Friday

lamido-sanusiThe Bankers’ Committee on Tuesday rose from its 315th meeting and announced that the biometric registration of bank customers would commence on Friday.

As a result, all Deposit Money Banks will on that day commence the registration of their customers’ details, including their fingerprints.

The Group Managing Director, Access Bank Plc, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, briefed journalists at the end of the bi-monthly meeting held in Lagos.

He said the biometric identification system would help the fight against fraud and money laundering, and also enhance the protection of bank customers.

“The banking industry, under the auspices of the Bankers’ Committee, has been working to improve the Know Your Customer requirement. The idea is to fight fraud, money laundering and ensure a better customer protection. The initiative will be launched this Friday, February 14,” Wigwe said.

He said the banks, in collaboration with the CBN, had been working on the initiative for a long time, adding that necessary infrastructure had been put in place to ensure the smooth rollout of the biometric scheme.

“There will be teething problems, but we will learn from it. The biometric initiative is being pursued by the Bankers’ Committee,” the Access Bank boss said.

The Director, Corporate Communications Department, CBN, Mr. Ugochukwu Okoroafor, said the biometric system, when fully operational, would help to improve credit in the economy and boost the nation’s macro-economy.

Okoroafor said, “Nigeria runs on cash; there is no identity. We don’t know who is who. We are now going into identity confirmation. We can now create a credit system that will power our economy.

“Banks don’t want to lend because of identity issue. We want to move Nigeria from cash system to credit system that has identity.”

The central bank also announced that its Cash-Lite policy would go nationwide by July1.

The Head, Shares Services, CBN, Mr. Chidi Umeano, said the development would help to modernise the nation’s payment system.

He said, “Statistics show that there has been a shift from the traditional cash-carrying system to electronic form of payment. For instance, there is the Nigerian Electronic Fund Transfer, Nigerian Instant Payment, Point of Sale terminal and Mobile Money.

“As of yesterday (Monday), the value of transactions carried out using the NEFT was N153bn; Nigerian Instant Pay, N37bn; PoS terminals, N50m; and Mobile Money, N12m, totalling N190.62bn for a single day.”

The CBN had two years ago introduced the cash-less policy in Lagos and Abuja, but last year added six other states.

Meanwhile, the Group Managing Director, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Mr. Bisi Onasanya, provided reasons why the Bankers’ Committee agreed with the CBN on its decision to increase the Cash Reserve Requirement to 75 per cent from 50 per cent.

The monetary measure had negatively impacted on the banks’ bottomlines.

Onasanya said in the face of dwindling external reserves occasioned by decreasing oil revenue, the central bank had limited measures to achieve exchange rate stability.

This, he said, informed the committee’s decision to go along with the Monetary Policy Committee on the latest monetary tightening measure.

Onasanya said, “The Bankers’ Committee looked at the global economic environment and its impact on Nigeria. We looked at the United States tapering, global crisis and the resolution of the crisis in Iran, and the impact of the outflow of portfolio investment out of Nigeria.”

Ethiopia’s agriculture records annual 8 per cent growth, says minister

The Ethiopian Minister of Agriculture, Ato DerbewtThe Ethiopian Government on Tuesday in Addis Ababa said it had achieved an eight per cent sustained growth in the country’s agriculture sector over the last 10 years.

The Ethiopian Minister of Agriculture, Ato Derbew, spoke at the opening of the African Union Commission (AUC)’s dialogue to improve implementation, co-ordination and alignment with National Agriculture Investment Plans (NAIP).

“Ethiopia’s agriculture sector has performed well over the last decade, with an average growth rate of GDP at about eight per cent per annum for the last 10 years, which easily surpassed the CAADP target of six per cent per annum.’’

Derbew said the growth was in line with the country’s target to meet the UN MDGs 1.

This was aimed at reducing hunger and poverty by half by 2015 and Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) target to make the country a middle income nation by the 2025.

According to him, the goal was achieved following an un-interrupted effort to facilitate farmers’ use of modern technology and improved seeds.

He said this was in addition to adequate education, as well as massive enlightenment campaigns.

The minister, however, said the country was being faced by challenges of land degradations, climate change, pest and diseases, among others.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting is being attended by stakeholders from the AU Regional Communities and experts from some selected countries across the continent.