Nigeria let the naira weaken to a record low against the dollar on the official market on Friday, according to traders, who said this could be a move by the central bank to unify multiple exchange rates.
Having traded within a band of 380 and 381 to the dollar since July last year, the naira hit a record low of 419.75 against the dollar on Friday. It then closed at 411.25 — the last closing rate for the naira on the over-the-counter spot market. The central bank did not respond to calls for comment and no quotes have been available on the naira’s official rate since Tuesday. It weakened further on the black market, traders said.
“What the central bank is saying is that the (OTC) spot rate will be the official rate because that’s where the largest volumes trade,” one currency trader at a major Nigerian bank told Reuters.
Nigeria operates multiple currency regimes, which frustrate businesses and have prompted calls from the World Bank for the rates to be unified to attract investment. Rising dollar demand has put pressure on the naira as providers of foreign exchange, such as offshore investors, exited after the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a fall in global oil prices.
Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele in February said the currency was trading at 410 naira on the official market while the government has been using that rate for its business as it tries to boost earnings from crude sales, its main export.
The World Bank has linked approval of a $1.5 billion budget support loan to currency reforms. The central bank had been trying to unify the rates and boost the dollar supply through direct interventions. It revised the futures rate on the naira upwards last month to ease pressure on the currency after quoting the 150-day futures contract at 435.81 naira, in its first dollar sales to foreign investors this year.
The bank is due to hold its interest rate setting meeting later this month with economic data on inflation and first quarter growth figures expected from next week. It has kept rates on hold to support the economy hobbles by lower oil prices and impact of COVID-19 pandemic but dollar shortages have been contributing to rising inflation, a key source of concern for the central bank.
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Access Bank Refurbishes School Building In Lagos Community
Access Bank Plc has successfully completed the refurbishment of dilapidated educational infrastructure at Akodu Primary School, a rural school in Mushin, a suburb in Lagos State.
Also, the last phase of the renovation exercise was inaugurated yesterday.
The newly refurbished and inaugurated block of four classrooms was the final phase of a three-year intervention project undertaken by the Internal Audit Group of Access Bank as its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) that started in 2019.
The bank also donated 70 sets of tables and chairs in the final phase of the project to enhance the pupils’ learning experience.
The project, according to the bank, was carried out in collaboration with its consulting non-governmental organisation (NGO), Mushin to the World.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, the Chief Audit Executive, Access Bank, Mr. Yinka Tiamiyu, who was represented by the bank’s Head of Risk Audit, Mr. Martins Ogbu, said the project was carried out to improve the learning environment for the children and the staff.
Tiamiyu said, “The project started in 2019 with renovation works on the restrooms of two schools within this locality, namely, Akodu Primary School and Mainland Model Primary School, both in Mushin Local Government Area.
“In 2020, we followed up with the renovation of three dilapidated classrooms in Akodu Primary School. This was done to improve the learning environment for the children and the staff.
“The final phase, which we are here to commission today involves completion of the renovation of a block of four classrooms which commenced in 2020, and the procurement of 70 sets of tables and chairs for use by the pupils to further enhance the quality of their learning environment.”
He expressed the bank’s enthusiasm about the successful completion of the project, adding that they trust that the school would put the faculties to good use and facilitate excellent maintenance of them.
He explained that the bank chose to intervene in the education sector because of its fundamental place in the development of human.
He stressed that apart from the basic necessities of life which include security, protection of lives and property, food, clothing and shelter, education comes second, as an enlightened mind is capable of constructing and solving society’s problem.
Tiamiyu added, “So, that informed our decision to intervene in the education sector. And in doing this, we looked around and asked, where can we make the most impact? Could it be in the established schools in the cities? We said no, these are already established schools and they are running.
“So, we decided that we have to go to the rural communities that are deprived, where the opportunities are few and far between; where the amenities are likely to be lacking or dilapidated.
“We set out to search the various communities within Lagos State which is our major area of operation. By the time our searchlight got to Akodu Primary School, we knew we didn’t have to look further.
“The state of this school before our intervention was a sorry sight. Our heart bled when we saw the condition of the six blocks of classroom. In fact, out of the six, only two were in use because the roof of the rest had completely cave in.
“So, over a two-year period -2020 and this year 2021, we set out to intervene to completely renovate these classrooms, we reroofed and painted the entire structure completely.”
Appreciating the bank for the gesture, the Head Teacher of Akodu Primary School, Mrs. Caroline Adewewe, said: “I thank the Internal Audit Group of Access Bank and their partner, Mushin to the World, for working tirelessly, daily and night, to make this project and it’s commissioning a reality.
“I must say that the dedication and contribution of the Access Bank Audit team towards this project is worthy of emulation by other corporate organisations. They thought it wise to give back to the public in their own way of lifting the lives of the less-privileged. May God bless you all.”
Meanwhile, SME.NG in partnership with Access bank Plc and other leading institutions, including the Bank of Industry (BOI), LAPO Microfinance Bank, Chapel Hill Denham, and the Impact Investment Foundation Nigeria are launching the Ebi Marketplace – a Nigerian innovation for female entrepreneurs.
A statement yesterday explained that the Ebi Marketplace consists of an access to capital market, an e-commerce mall and a knowledge market for female entrepreneurs in Nigeria seeking to digitise their businesses.
“Conceptualised and developed by SME.NG as a tangible solution to the impact of COVID-19 on female entrepreneurs, the Ebi Marketplace aims to close the gender digital divide in Nigeria by supporting women’s digital literacy and financial inclusion, while providing access to capital and markets,” it added.
Thelma Ekiyor, the brain behind the Ebi Marketplace stated that SME.NG was committed to investing in facilitating female entrepreneurs’ profitability, so that they are positioned for infusion of capital.
According to her, the innovation was supported by Nigerian investors for the Nigerian market.
“We at SME.NG see ourselves as an indigenous solutions provider in Nigeria’s SME ecosystem. Women in Nigeria establish businesses more than men but struggle to grow beyond a certain point. We believe we have a strategic role to play in breaking that financial and growth ceiling,” she noted.
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ENaira Will Aid Offline, Cross-Border Ppayment Solutions, Says CBN
The Central Bank of Nigeria has stated that the eNaira’s fourth phase will lead to offline and cross-border payment solutions.
This was disclosed by the Director, Information Technology Department, CBN, Mrs Rakiya Mohammed, at the licensed payment service providers’ engagement session in Lagos on Monday.
She charged licensed PSPs to build additional products and services across the full spectrum of the financial system utilizing eNaira while asking them to establish other use cases for the eNaira.
Mohammed said, “The full implementation of the eNaira would be done in four phases, culminating in offline eNaira payments solutions, cross-border payment and interoperability of the eNaira with those of other central banks.”
She asked payment service providers (including the broad community of fintech groups) to develop solutions for offline eNaira functionalities, such as cards, wearables and USSD, and to discover more inventive ways to support members of the public in the onboarding process and use of eNaira, where possible.
She made it clear that the CBN was not in competition with the Deposit Money Banks or any other players in the Nigerian payment system.
The session also presented value-added ideas for the market and integration process to promote financial inclusion by bridging the gap between the banked and unbanked.
The event, Mohammed said, was part of the CBN’s plan to bring all stakeholders on board, adding that the central bank was open to recommendations and innovation aimed at improving the user experience and adding value to the eNaira.
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LCCI Lauds UBA’s Contribution To Growth Of African Economies
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has commended Africa’s global bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA) for its contribution to infrastructure development and growth of trade in the 19 countries where it operates, which is why the bank remains its preferred partner for the Lagos International Trade Fair (LITF).
The President, LCCI, Mrs. Toki Mabogunje, said this while delivering a welcome address with the theme: ‘Boosting Intra Africa Trade ’during the Africa day celebration, held at the ongoing 35th edition of the Fair in Lagos.
She explained that the Africa Day was implemented because of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement which is a long-term dream and a long term goal, adding: “To this end we have started taking first steps and are doing a lot of sensitisation and awareness especially for the MSMEs.”
Mabogunje who took time to appreciate UBA’s efforts as headline sponsor, appreciated the bank’s consistency and support rendered to SMEs through making available windows of opportunities for businesses to thrive during and after the Fair.
She said: “Partnering with UBA is significant because it is an organisation that has its footprint in 20 countries and that is a big feat, it is not easy to achieve that. As Partners we are thinking in the same way and working together.”
UBA is also making it possible for us to successfully deliver LITF to the Nigerian and international public, and based on this fact we are profoundly appreciative and satisfied that we have a competent partner.”
UBA’s Head, Commercial & Corporate Banking, Muyiwa Akinyemi, while speaking at the event, said UBA realises that SMEs are the fulcrum of growth in any economy and is therefore dedicated to helping them thrive.
Akinyemi noted that boosting Intra-Africa trade is pertinent if Africa must truly attain self-reliance and economic development, adding that Africa and indeed Africans, must own the narrative for the economic emancipation of the continent.”
Akinyemi said, “The Theme of this year’s event resonates with our mission to create value for our stakeholders by supporting businesses across Africa, which led to our rapid expansion from Ghana in 2005 to 18 other locations in Africa within a space of five years. AfCTA is a transformational journey that we must all embrace and encourage, because it presents us with opportunities that will lead to creating a market of over 1.2 billion people with a combined GDP of over $3.4 trillion. Hence the possibilities of growth and prosperity on the continent are endless.”
The Chairman, Trade Promotion Board of the LCCI, Gabriel Idahosa, agreed with the possibilities that AfCFTA presents and said it was one worthy of committing too. He also applauded UBA and the LCCI President as well as all members of the Executive Committee and Council for the tremendous support given which has been instrumental to the success of the fair thus far.
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