Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Four major banks in the country have incurred the wrath of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, as they have been slammed with sanctions.

It was gathered that the apex bank sanctioned the banks for failure to comply with its Know-Your-Customers guidelines and the anti-money laundering requirements.

The banks disclosed the sanctions in their audited financial statements for the six months ended June, 2019.

It was learnt that GTBank Plc was asked to pay N10m while the United Bank for Africa Plc and Access Bank Plc were asked to pay N8m each. Fidelity Bank Plc was sanctioned N4m by the regulatory body.

GTBank disclosed in its audited financial statement for six months ended June 30 that it was sanctioned N2m for Anti-Money laundering/ Combating the Financing of Terrorism regulation on three-tiered KYC and N8m for 2018 risk- based examination findings.

The bank, however, explained that it was committed to fight all forms of financial crime including money laundering, terrorist financing, bribery and corruption.

Access Bank was sanctioned N4m over failure to comply with anti-money laundering requirements and additional N4m in respect of failure to comply with the apex bank’s manual of operations for fund transfer.

UBA, on the other hand, said it was sanctioned N2m for late resolution of customer compliants and N6m for deficiency in account documentation/late records retrieval.

It would be recalled that the apex bank had earlier in the month also announced a series of new sanctions to be meted out to deposit money banks, mobile money operators, payment solution service providers and other financial institutions for electronic payment infractions.

The CBN, issued the ‘Regulations on Electronic Payments and Collections for Public and Private Sectors in Nigeria’, which it described as a revision of the Guidelines on Electronic Payment of Salaries, Pensions, Suppliers and Taxes in Nigeria (2014).

It said the regulations were intended to guide the end-to-end electronic payment of salaries, pensions and other remittances, suppliers and revenue collections in the country.

According to the apex bank, the objective of the regulations is to fully align with the core objectives of the National Payments System Vision 2020 to ensure the availability of safe, effective and efficient mechanisms for conveniently making and receiving all types of payments from any location and at any time, through multiple electronic channels.

Published in Bank & Finance

A UN Speacial Rapporteur on Rights to Adequate Housing,Ms Leilana Fartha, has called on the Federal Government to impose luxury vacant home tax in the country as a way of addressing housing challenges in the country.

Fartha made the call at a news conference in Abuja on Monday, expressing concern over the human rights crisis presented by poor living conditions in Nigeria’s informal settlements, which she said houses about 69 percent of Nigeria’s urban population.

She said: “Most residents in Nigeria’s ballooning informal settlements live without access to even the most basic services, like running water.

“And they lack any security of tenure, forcing them to live in constant fear of being evicted.

“My 10 days fact-findings visit to Nigeria has presented an economic inequality in the country, which has reached an extreme level and is playing itself out clearly in the housing sector.

“There is an estimated housing shortage of 22 million units.

“At the same time, newly built luxury dwellings are springing up throughout cities and made possible often through the forced eviction of poor communities.

“These units do not fulfil any housing need, with many remaining vacant as vehicles for money laundering or investment,’’ she said.

Fartha, who urged the Federal Government to take urgent measures to address homelessness and poverty, also advocated for a declaration of a nation-wide moratorium on forced evictions.

“Government must address the grossly inadequate housing conditions with the urgency and rigour befitting a human rights crisis of this scale.

“Apart from establishing a national commission to investigate gross human rights violations in the context of forced evictions, government should provide basic services to all informal settlements.

“And must increase the number of shelters for persons in situations of vulnerability,’’ Fartha said.

The UN Rapporteur also regretted that the bill for an act to provide rent control in the country failed at the National Assembly, arguing that the bill was not ripe when it first hit the National Assembly.

“It is unfortunate that the bill died in NASS.

“The idea of controlling rent caps is hotly debated in many countries.

“New York just tried to have rent control laws passed; Barcelona is close to getting rent-free as rent is actually frozen for some period of five to seven years.

“So, in many jurisdictions, they have started to impose a vacant home tax.

“I support that kind of move from human rights point of view only where that money from the tax is directly put into the creation of affordable housing.

“In the case of Nigeria it could be used as fund to upgrade informal settlements”, she said.

Published in World

Sudan’s prime minister will ask the World Bank for $2 billion in support during his current visit to New York, the country’s finance minister said on Monday.

Finance Minister Ibrahim Elbadawi also said Sudan had asked the World Bank to second and fund three Sudanese experts to work in Sudan during the country’s political transition.

 

- Reuters

Published in Economy

The old model for growth is dead. Businesses need new models and new approaches if they are to continue to grow in today’s competitive world. This means the time has arrived to shake up an age-old industry and crown its successor.

Mediacom South Africa’s Imraan Rajab, Chief Operations Officer, highlights these industry shifts and expands on today’s building blocks for nominal growth.

Although it may be hard to pivot from our traditional reliance on scale and efficiency, a new model is needed. Growth – today and tomorrow – will be based on the people who surround the consumer experience, as well as human-centric workspaces. Learning to change is the first part of adapting, and in this case, adapting will require putting people first.

But why do businesses need to change? Because there are fewer and fewer new markets to enter, and you can only cut your way to efficiency so many times. At the same time, sectors are also being shaken up by more knowledgeable customers and disruptors who are looking to cash in on lazy incumbents, often bypassing well-established niches and intermediaries.

It’s about more than just growth

Businesses of today need to put people at the centre of everything they do. This doesn’t just refer to customer-centric marketing. Today’s landscape is extremely competitive. Consumers want to know that when they vote with their wallets, they’re voting for an organisation that stands for more than just profits; that the product or service will add something to their lives and the planet.

Similarly, defining this ‘reason for being’ is especially critical for attracting and retaining the best talents in any organisation. Large and growing businesses of the future will seek out rainbows of opportunity, never putting all their eggs in one basket but exploring every possible avenue for growth. These organisations will be flexible, always ready to test new ways of collaborating and selling.

We increasingly see the importance of expanding the lens through which we view and monitor competitors, especially when considering how rapidly markets are shifting due to technological innovations and changing consumer expectations. A new competitor can seemingly emerge from nowhere to challenge a perceived existing market leader. You only have to look as far as the likes of Netflix, who claims that the video game Fortnite is a bigger competitor than other streaming services, to appreciate the scope that should be applied to competitor monitoring.

Getting it right

When the decision is made to focus on growth, companies need to look at why their company exists and articulate their ambition in terms of the impact on people and the world around them.

That means linking business growth to KPIs that demonstrate human growth and ensure this is also part of their incentive structures. This is very different from the traditional approach of prioritising only financial objectives and involves a total focus on benefiting customers, colleagues, and communities. The fact is that any business model can be copied, with the consequence that what stands out as a brand is the ability to link commercial ambitions to something more meaningful.

Secondly, they need to look at what they do. That means ensuring they offer ever-evolving experiences instead of just products or services, have the flexibility to use multiple business models, constantly view themselves as market challengers rather than incumbents, and consider how that changes their behaviour. It means ignoring the fact that you might have 30% market share and considering life as a 3% company but with ample room to grow. This change of viewpoint drives a constant desire to optimise what works. It encourages businesses to build in-house innovation labs and explore unexpected acquisition possibilities.

And finally, organisations need to look at how they operate. Seeing that this includes company culture, it can often be the hardest part because it means loosening up internal hierarchies and pushing accountability down to consumer-facing staff. Offering staff new career paths that enable them to leap around rather following a set route to the top is a new and challenging mind-set, but it rewards those demonstrating entrepreneurship within the company.

A cultural revolution

Changing cultures so that innovation and diversity is part of the company ethos pays dividends because it allows colleagues to collaborate seamlessly and with a common goal. This can give teams the freedom to demonstrate a diversity of thinking that allows them to anticipate opportunities and threats, as well as generating new insights that combine creativity, data, and technology well before their competitors.

Part of this culture shift should be to create an environment where employees feel safe enough to explore unchartered territories, fail regularly, and learn as a result. Organisational learning can only happen through individual learning, which means accepting failure as a step in the process towards growth results in organisations that are more capable of spotting and taking advantage of elusive growth opportunities.

Making these changes is not easy and can’t be done in a day, but any business that has a need for growth should accept change. In today’s rapidly evolving world, few of us can rely on the old routes to growth, which is why we should all be open to exploring new routes to success.

Only by examining all aspects of the way we behave as business leaders, marketers and individuals can we ensure that we are truly doing everything possible to drive growth for our companies and our people.

Published in Opinion & Analysis

The Volta River project in Ghana was a symbolic embodiment of progress, modernisation, and development. It offered the opportunity for newly independent Ghana to develop a complex and integrated industrial base using local resources and materials.

While the initial concept was discussed as early as 1924, it was only in the 1950s that the feasibility report was written and work commenced.

The idea was to harness power generated from a hydroelectric dam to smelt bauxite into aluminium and to export it from the newly built port-town of Tema. For Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first post independence leader, it was a perfect blend of nationalist development and international trade. It was a means of throwing off the shame of an imperial past with an ambitious and prestigious infrastructure project.

The development was not only concerned with industry, Nkrumah was also adamant that housing provision was to be enhanced. The aluminium plant workers were to be housed in a purpose built new town at Kpong with an array of social amenities, parks, health and education facilities.

The problem, like with most idealistic visions, was funding the venture. Nkrumah had secured some, if limited, backing from the UK government, and was hoping for the UK-Canadian aluminium venture to provide the remainder.

Nkrumah’s commitment to high quality housing for the smelter workers was admirable – but the business consortium didn’t share this generous vision and was reluctant to fund even the most basic dwellings. The idea of providing extensive sports facilities and high quality infrastructure was an anathema. The negotiations eventually failed.

But the project was too important to Nkrumah and he persisted in seeking new partners, including Soviet support, which deeply concerned the UK and US. Eventually, US steel magnate and dam builder Henry J. Kaiser agreed to deliver the project. The deal involved moving the smelter closer to the new town of Tema, and using imported US bauxite. This destroyed Nkrumah’s aspirations to use local raw materials.

Nevertheless, a new town called Akosombo was built to house the hydro-power station workers at the dam site. To this day it has a carefully controlled town plan and highly accountable local government to ensure that the main town is properly managed, complete with maintained markets, roads and facilities.

The hydro-electric dam is still rightly a source of immense national pride, and the prestige of the project is reflected in the township. It is like no other town in Ghana, and its manicured landscapes, housing and commitment to being a well run town renders it a highly attractive place to live among the beautiful hills and within close proximity to Accra.

But not everything worked out this well. A town called New Ajena was also developed to house communities that were forced to move because of the dam. This was a much less successful project.

Useful lessons can be learnt from both. In our recently published paper we assessed the development of the high profile project from the perspective of providing housing. Housing was indeed provided, but not uniformly. In addition, extensive social provision was seen as a luxury item and quickly cut from budgets by the early 1960s. As a result housing for the most vulnerable was only deemed possible if it included a “self-build” contribution by the residents themselves.

The failures

The dam resulted in the formation of one of the world’s largest man-made lakes. 80,000 people living upstream were forced to flee their fertile farms and ancestral lands as the water level continued to rise and flooded their homes.

Nkrumah decreed that “no one would be made worse off” and a programme of replacement homes and villages commenced. But there was substantial delay.

The World Food Programme was forced to intervene. It didn’t simply hand out supplies, but instead distributed food in exchange for labour. Residents were forced to “clear” 450,000 acres (182,109 hectares) to make way for the first 18 resettlement sites. 739 villages were eventually consolidated into 52 townships to benefit from economies of scale for services, school provision, road maintenance and market stalls.

New Ajena was one of the first resettlement villages to replace the former Ajena now submerged by the lake. Sites were selected based on being easily accessible, close to good farming areas, and ideally at high altitude with a good water supply. This did not leave many options and most new settlements, like New Ajena, were simply placed at the lake edge. The housing stock loosely tracks the road and is arranged in informal clusters.

Core Housing at New Ajena. Iain Jackson, CC BY-NC-SA

The use of standard components and basic construction resulted in rapid production rates with over 200 houses built a week, and 11,000 units completed by 1964. The housing type was called a “core house” – effectively a single room and raised veranda. The idea was for the residents to gradually extend the houses as required, according to a prescribed plan and building standard.

As part of my research I spoke to some residents who have lived in the settlement since the early 1960s. They can remember the developments that have taken place. They can recall some larger families being forced to move from substantial multi-room structures to one simple room which resulted in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions.

Extensions and modifications to the core houses have been limited, although most have added an extra room and extended the front porch. Water is still obtained via a stand-pipe which serves as the local gathering place. There are shared latrines (which are generally unpopular) although many residents have constructed their own bathhouses.

Undelivered promises

The promise of material modernisation has still not been delivered. A small primary school was built along with the core houses and more recently a secondary school has been constructed by the residents. A shop provides basic supplies and most residents keep goats and chickens and grow fruit and vegetables. The settlement has been criticised for its unauthorised structures and land use, but without this cultivation, such a remote town could not have survived.

While the development has not quite adhered to the plan and early proposals inflicted hardship on many, it is now very much a thriving settlement. Basic social amenities are slowly being added as the village sees fit.

Formal planning and the precise placing of buildings, overly prescriptive building regulations and rule-making have yielded to a schematic set of principles that devolve far greater control to residents and they should be commended for their efforts.

Lessons learned

The Akosombo plan is a pristine example of top-down planning with a highly controlled environment. But it only managed to house a small and privileged portion of society. If this model can be funded and delivered to a large community it is certainly a valid and attractive option.

Where this is not possible, New Ajena offers another route, one that is more inclusive and reliant on the goodwill and hard work of the community, but one that shows how large populations can be rehoused quickly.

Of course, it need not be a case of one or the other, and the planned Akosombo model, with associated satellite self-built villages, could deliver a sustainable and affordable solution to housing in Ghana.The Conversation

 

Iain Jackson, Professor and Architect, University of Liverpool

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Published in Opinion & Analysis

Zimbabwe's central bank has frozen bank accounts of four large companies that include fuel dealer, Sakunda as well as big car dealership, Croco Motors, pending investigations by the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

Sakunda is controlled by businessman Kuda Tagwirei, who is said to be politically connected. He also controls fuel supply in Zimbabwe through Trafigura and Sakunda. The RBZ has closed bank accounts of Sakunda and three other companies, namely Croco Motors, money market company Access Finance and Spartan Security.

In a directive to all Zimbabwean banks on Thursday of last week, Wonder Kapofu, a director with the Financial Intelligence Unit at the Zimbabwean reserve bank, said financial institutions have to “freeze transactions in respect of all accounts” and the named companies as well as their related entities.

“The FIU is carrying out analysis on the above-named entities and their sister group companies. As we carry out further analysis, you are directed to freeze, with immediate effect, all accounts held in the names of the listed entities until further notice,” said Kapofu.

President Emerson Mnangagwa’s government has been battling to contain runaway inflation being exacerbated by the parallel market rates. This week, the government reportedly launched a crackdown on mobile money agents that were charging premiums of up to 50% for cash-outs from mobile money wallets.

The Zimbabwean central bank has now directed that banks stop processing withdrawals or other transactions from the accounts of the four companies and to notify it of “any deposit or other inflow into the accounts” as well as transfers.

Informed sources in Zimbabwe said on Friday that this could be related to parallel market dealings that have fueled the black market forex rate this week from 1:15 on Monday to about 1:20 for the ZWL versus US Dollar on Friday morning. On Friday evening, the parallel market exchange rate had fallen to around 1:17, in contrast to the official interbank exchange rate of around 1:14.

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said the government hand changed the funding mechanism for the 2019/2020 agricultural season. Some had blamed the spike in parallel market rates on new funds injected into the economy to fund input schemes.

Ncube said banks – including Standard Bank unit, Stanbic and Agribank as well as CBZ – have already agreed to fund the farming schemes, with the government said to be providing guarantees.

 

Credit: Business Report

Published in Bank & Finance
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