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World Bank Loan Portfolio in Nigeria Hits $8.67bn

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World Bank loan portfolio in Nigeria now stands at $8.67bn, an investigation has shown.

Loans from the International Development Association, one of the three arms of the World Bank, make up $8.55bn of the portfolio.

Loans from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, another arm of the Breton Woods institution, make up $124.18m of the portfolio.

IDA is the concessional arm of the bank through which it grants low interest loans to developing countries while the IBRD is the commercial arm that lends at commercial interest rates.

Statistics obtained from the Debt Management Office showed that the bank’s portfolio in Nigeria rose from $6.67bn as of December 31, 2016,  to $8.67bn as of December 31, 2018.

This means that the World Bank portfolio in the country rose by $2bn within a period of two years. This shows an increase of 29.98 per cent within the two-year period under review.

Nigeria’s external debt as of December 31, 2018,  stood at $25.27bn. With a portfolio of $8.67bn, the World Bank is the country’s single largest creditor as the bank holds 34.32 per cent of the nation’s external debt commitment.

Although some experts may see the 29.98 per cent growth in bank’s portfolio in Nigeria within a period of two years as high, there was actually more growth in the country’s commitment to Eurobonds within the same period.

In 2016, the nation’s Eurobonds loans stood at $1.5bn. However, by December 2018, the Eurobonds portfolio had reached $10.87bn. This shows that within the period, the country’s Eurobonds debt rose by $9.37bn or 624.67 per cent.

Drying concessional sources of external borrowing had driven the nation to commercial loans which included Eurobonds and Diaspora Bonds issued to Nigerians abroad.

The country also had to take commercial loans from abroad in a bid to retire some domestic debts that were considered to come with very high interest rates.

Speaking at a recent press briefing, the Director-General of DMO, Patience Oniha, said the government had borrowed to fund projects, to finance the budget deficit and to refinance maturing obligations.

Particularly, she said, some foreign debts were used to refinance treasury bills because of the short tenor of the bills, adding that borrowing from abroad had also helped to stabilise the local currency in the last two years.

Oniha said that borrowing for 2019 would be 50-50 split between domestic and external in striving to be consistent with the Debt Management Strategy 2013-2019 aimed at achieving a 60:40 ratio between domestic debt and external debt.

She said, “Relatively low interest rates mean the government can issue longer-dated bonds to continue to fund infrastructure projects.

“Revenue generating initiatives are expected to improve revenues and reduce the debt service to revenue ratio.”

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Glo Widens Customer Base with Its MoneyMaster PSB

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Glo-powered MoneyMaster Payment Service Bank (MMPSB), a major payment service bank in Nigeria, has recorded massive growth in its customer base as it added a new bouquet of services to its operations.

The positive growth is as a result of innovations and services introduced in the past few months by the PSB to delight its customers in the country.

Licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in August 2020, MoneyMaster PSB facilitates payments and remittance services within Nigeria, accepts deposits from individuals and small businesses, issues debit and prepaid cards, operates electronic wallets, inbound remittances, and carries out other services in line with CBN regulations.

Its focus is the unbanked and under-banked segment in Nigeria in order to deepen financial inclusion. It launched commercial operations in May 2022, and has continued to experience expansion in its client base with hundreds of potential customers leveraging its digital channels such as USSD, mobile app and internet banking to open accounts, buy airtime and data, pay utility bills and more.

Sources indicate that more Nigerians are joining the bank to enjoy the wide array of services on offer and conduct their financial transactions with ease and with assurance of security of their transactions.

There are currently over 4,000 billers on the MMPSB platform and the number is growing on a daily basis. Through the platform, customers are able to pay for many essential services such as airtime, data, electricity, cable subscription, etc.

The immediate future holds bigger promise for customers of the payment service bank as it gears up to retool and reengineer for better customer experience. Several new initiatives are set to be unveiled to delight customers soon.

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Forex Crisis: FG Blocks Binance, OctaFX, Coinbase, Others

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The Nigerian government has blocked the online platforms of Binance and other crypto firms to avert what it considers continuous manipulation of the forex market and illicit movement of funds.

Sources within the major telecommunication companies in the country told PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) communicated the directive to telcos and they had started acting on it.

Apart from Binance, other platforms such as Forextime, OctaFX, Crypto, FXTM, Coinbase, Kraken, among others, were equally blocked.

Presidency and regulatory sources said the government decided to move against Binance and other crypto firms following reports that currency speculators and money launderers were using them to execute criminal activities. Authorities believe the ‘criminal activities’ going on on platforms are contributing significantly to the weakening of the naira.

Binance, a digital assets platform, serves as a window for peer to peer transactions allowing users to advertise interest to sell or buy currencies of their choice.

In September 2023, Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) placed a disclaimer on Binance Nigeria Limited, saying the platform was “neither registered nor regulated by the Commission and its operations in Nigeria are therefore illegal”.

Despite the warning by the regulatory agency, the firm continued its operation, attracting huge patronage especially among urban youths and suspected speculators and money launderers. Aside from suspicions of economic sabotage, officials also speak of national security concerns as the platforms are often patronised by other criminal groups including for payment of ransom.

In its reaction earlier on Wednesday, Binance said “users behaving in a manipulative way” will be removed from its platform.

“As industry leaders, we are working hand in hand with local authorities, lawmakers, and regulators to ensure we act on non-compliance,” the platform added, noting that it is “setting an upper limit for ads, filtering and removing bad ads, requiring and raising deposits for merchants posting ads as well as processes for actioning against any market manipulators.”

On Tuesday, the Nigerian government announced that it was planning to raise $10bn to improve liquidity in the foreign exchange market.

President Bola Tinubu, who was represented by Vice President Kashim Shettima, disclosed this at the inaugural Public Wealth Management Conference in Abuja on Tuesday.

“At the core of this is ensuring optimal management of the assets and investments of the Federal Government towards unlocking their revenue potential. This includes our bold and achievable plan to double the GDP growth rate and significantly increase the GDP base over the next 8 years,” Mr Shettima said.

Meanwhile, the naira tumbled to an all-time low of N1,900 per dollar at the parallel market on Tuesday, amidst speculations and uncertainties about supply constraints in the markets. But at the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market (NAFEM), the local unit appreciated slightly to N1,551.24.

Earlier on Tuesday, the office of the National Security Adviser directed law enforcement agencies to take firm measures against anyone engaged in foreign exchange market speculation.

“In a concerted effort to safeguard Nigeria’s foreign exchange market and combat speculative activities, the Office of the National Security Adviser and the Central Bank of Nigeria are joining forces to address challenges impacting the nation’s economic stability,” the office said in a statement.

“The CBN’s proactive measures to stabilise the foreign exchange market and stimulate economic activities have been commendable. However, the effectiveness of these initiatives is being undermined by the activities of speculators, both domestic and international, operating through various channels, thereby exacerbating the depreciation of the Nigerian naira.”

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UBA Takes Centre Stage at 2024 ECOWAS Mining Forum in Cotonou As Elumelu Gives Keynote Address

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Africa’s Global Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, has been announced as the official sponsor of the 4th edition of the ECOWAS Mining and Petroleum Forum (ECOMOF 2024) scheduled to take place at the Palais des Congrès in Cotonou, Benin from February 22 to February 24, 2024.

The regional event is expected to see a large gathering of key players and stakeholders in the mining and petroleum sectors of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and as the financial institution of choice, with presence in 20 African countries and active involvement in major continental development projects, UBA is the preferred partner for the event, underlining the bank’s commitment to the growth of mining and Petroleum industry in the sub-region but to the whole not African economic development.

UBA Group Chairman, Tony Elumelu, would give the keynote address during the opening ceremony of this all-important event.

Elumelu who doubles as Chairman of Transcorp Group, with extensive interests in energy and power, will be speaking on the theme: “Geo-extractive Resources and Technologies: what pooling strategies for Value Creation in West Africa”

His speech is expected to highlight UBA’s increasing effort to support and develop the African continent through strategic investments in the key sectors of mining and petroleum.

Under the esteemed leadership of the President of the Republic of Benin, His Excellency, Patrice Talon, and the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and current President of ECOWAS, His Excellency Mr. Bola Tinubu, UBA Group will at the forum aim to restate its commitment towards supporting economic and social development across the continent.

The focus of ECOMOF 2024 underscores the significance of transforming the mining and oil sectors into economic pillars by formulating attractive policies for investors, essential for the sectors’ substantial contribution to the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) of ECOWAS member states.

The Transnational Corporation Group (Transcorp Plc) – a diversified conglomerate with strategic investments in various sectors, including power and energy – will also actively participate in the forum.

Key officials from UBA Group and Transcorp Plc, including the Chief Executive Officer UBA Africa, Abiola Bawuah; UBA’s Group Head, Corporate and Energy Bank, Ebele Ogbue, and President/ Chief Executive Officer, Transcorp Group, Owen Omogiafo will be actively involved in discussions and panels on the sidelines of the event.

Anticipated to attract over 2,000 participants from diverse sectors, including representatives from mining and oil industries, government officials, international and national investors, industry experts, ECOWAS delegates, and international organizations, ECOMOF 2024 promises to be a significant platform for collaborative dialogue and partnership building.

United Bank for Africa is one of the largest employers in the financial sector on the African continent, with 25,000 employees’ group wide and serving over 35 million customers globally. Operating in 20 African countries and in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, France and the United Arab Emirates, UBA provides retail, commercial and institutional banking services, leading financial inclusion and implementing cutting edge technology.

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