Standard Bank, Africa’s largest banking group by assets, is partnering with the UK Government to sponsor the inaugural UK-Africa Investment Summit, which will be held in London on January 20, 2020.
The Summit will create new lasting partnerships between the UK and African businesses, governments and institutions to deliver more investment, jobs and growth. These partnerships will benefit people and businesses across Africa and the UK. Hosted by the Prime Minister, the Summit will bring together the UK and African businesses, African leaders and delegations, international institutions and young entrepreneurs.
The summit will cover topics including Trade and investment, infrastructure development, sustainable finance, the role of the City of London in attracting African businesses to raise capital, clean energy, women’s economic empowerment and creating jobs for young people across the continent.
Commenting on the sponsorship, Sola David-Borha, Chief Executive, Africa Regions, Standard Bank, said: “We are proud to be a sponsor of this prestigious and important summit. Africa is home to many fast-growing economies and businesses, and it is very positive to see the recognition of the huge potential for UK companies and investors. Furthermore, improving socio-economic ties between the UK and Africa can only be mutually beneficial. There is an increasing number of African businesses and governments looking to the UK, and the City of London in particular, to access capital, as well as investment and commercial expertise across different sectors.
“British investors and businesses are increasingly recognising Africa’s potential and the role they can play in boosting the continent’s long-term growth – particularly through investments that have positive social, economic and environmental impacts. This well-timed summit will help to build significant and long-lasting commercial ties between the UK and Africa.”
Sola David-Borha will participate in a panel event on Sustainable Finance and will be meeting British and African leaders across business, politics and other institutions.
International Development Secretary Alok Sharma visited Africa ahead of the Summit.
Mr Sharma said ahead of his visit: “Africa has eight of the 15 fastest growing economies in the world but currently receives less than 4% of foreign direct investment. There are fantastic opportunities for UK businesses to work alongside, invest in and partner with African nations.
“At the UK-Africa Investment Summit in London on January 20, we will bring together the UK and African businesses, African leaders, international institutions and young entrepreneurs to drive the investment Africa needs to flourish. I look forward to seeing many of you there.”
The Federal Government’s (FG) hope of achieving a seamless implementation of its 2020 budget suffered a set back Wednesday following the release of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Company’s (OPEC) January 2020 Monthly Oil Market Report.
The OPEC’s publication details the position of Nigeria’s crude production for last December, putting the average daily output for December at 1.57 million barrels per day (bpd), down from the November 2019 figure, standing at 1.66 million bpd.
OPEC’s data is rigorously achieved by checking statistics submitted by member nations against findings by secondary sources for the purpose of objectivity and validity.
OPEC’s secondary sources said oil output in the country for the month of November 2020 was in conformity with its quota of 1.77 million bpd. In the wisdom of the FG, Nigeria’s average daily production for December had been slashed by 11.3% of its quota in order to reduce supply.
The idea was to spur an increase in the price of crude in the price in the global oil markets, a path that Iran similarly towed about the same time last year.
Financial think-tanks at Lagos-based Financial Derivatives Company Limited (FDC) said “Nigeria is more sensitive about production than price. A lower oil output would affect the actualisation of budgeted revenue projections as oil revenue accounts for 31.35 per cent of the total revenue projected.”
Considering the significant percentage that revenues from oil receipts constitutes in government’s fiscal plan for this year and government’s counter-productive positioning in global oil market, it is safe to say that executing this year’s budget, would suffer a setback.
Brent, against which Nigeria’s Bonny Light is benchmarked, hit $70.74 on 6 January in the wake of US-Iran conflict but now hovers around $64.45. Equally, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) climbed to as high as $64.72 same day even though it had fallen $58.23 as 0f 07:54 West African Time (WAT) this morning.
OPEC, together with its partners – Russia and OPEC+, had concluded to slash production by another 500,000 bpd in addition to the current 1.2 million bpd between January and March.
The country’s quota fell to 1.75 million bpd this month under the OPEC+ partnership agreement to intensify Nigeria’s production cuts through March, S & P Global Platts revealed.
According to the OPEC report, a surge in oil demand growth this year will be neutralised by a sharper increase in non-OPEC supply, another fact the Nigerian government should take a cue from.
It mentions that “continued accommodative monetary policies, coupled with an improvement in financial markets, could provide further support to ongoing increases in non-OPEC supply.” Cuts by OPEC+ are needed to achieve stability in the market, the report further says.
Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC, a subsidiary of Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, has emerged the Best Foreign Exchange Provider in Nigeria at the Global Finance World’s Best Foreign Exchange Provider Awards. The event held at RSA House in London recently.
Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC won the award having performed excellently in the following areas: customer service, scope of global coverage, transaction volume, innovative technologies, competitive pricing and market share.
The panel of judges at the Global Finance award also considered various inputs from industry analysts as well as corporate executives and technology specialists.
Headquartered in New York, with offices around the world, Global Finance awards identifies and awards top performers among banks and other providers of financial services.
The best performing financial institutions are recognized at three levels: global, regional (continent) and country. Standard Bank, the parent company of Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, was awarded as the Best Foreign Exchange Provider for Africa at this year’s awards.
The Nigerian Capital Importation reports of the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics identified Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC as attracting the highest volume of capital investments into Nigeria in the second and third quarters of 2019.
The National Lottery Regulatory Commission has banned the operation, promotion, sale of tickets, and offer to the public of any and all unapproved foreign lottery.
The Commission’s Director General, Lanre Gbajabiamila, in a statement on Wednesday, said the attention of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission had been drawn to recent developments in the lottery sector and their impact on the business of lottery and the general public in Nigeria.
“There has been an increase in reported cases of non-payment of winnings by lottery operators and investigations have revealed that the games in question are characterized, among others, by the following: The games are foreign to Nigeria; draws are not conducted within the jurisdiction of Nigeria, the timing of the draws are varied and in consistent, the draws are not conducted in a transparent and credible manner; members of the public are not allowed to witness the draw process on occasion and the the foreign games are not approved by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The fundamental criteria for the business of lottery are the transparency and credibility of the draw process. Where they are absent, the games are compromised and provide opportunities for fraud. This breach of trust is detrimental to the playing public and the reputation of lottery business,” he said.
Gbajabiamila said consequently, to guarantee the integrity of the lottery business in Nigeria, the Commission being statutorily empowered by its enabling Act, “hereby prohibits the operation, promotion,sale of tickets, and offer to the public of any and all unapproved foreign lottery. This is in consonance with the provisions of Section 33 of the National Lottery Act 2005 (as amended).”
He added that no lottery operator shall offer, sell or promote any foreign lottery within Nigeria effective from 15th January, 2020, saying that Lottery operators must conduct all draws in-house for all games offered and allow interested members of the public access to draw venues to ensure transparency and integrity of the lottery process.
“The general public is also by this Notice advised not to patronize lottery games conducted outside Nigeria,” he said.
Assassinations, militaries on high alert, geopolitical tensions at the boil. Any one of these in Persian Gulf countries would have roiled oil prices a few years ago. Today, even in combination, they hardly register.
Is the oil market now so secure that even the prospect of war between Iran and the U.S. has little effect? More broadly, is this relatively sanguine response warranted at this time?
Reasons oil traders should be nervous
The assassination of Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s top military commander and head of its Revolutionary Guards, happened on Iraqi soil, without Iraqi permission, while Soleimani was reportedly on official business.
This attack by a U.S. drone, which killed up to 10 Iranian and Iraqi personnel, transgressed two nations’ sovereignty. It could be easily defined as an act of war.
Iran did so and responded with a missile barrage at two U.S. bases, apparently causing no casualties. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, meanwhile, completely rejected Iraq’s demand that American troops leave its soil, only a week after U.S. warplanes carried out lethal attacks on Iran-backed militias in Iraq, also without Iraqi authorization.
These are grim new events in a volatile region essential to global oil supply, yet they had no important impact on oil prices. Over a few days, prices went from $US66 per barrel to $69, then down to $65. This isn’t even a hiccup; in a year, it will be invisible on the price curve.
True, President Donald Trump said Iran was “standing down,” and there would be new sanctions, not attacks. Yet this president is notorious for impulsive decisions. Iran, moreover, may take its time in seeking revenge.
And in the midst of military tensions, Iran mistook a commercial airliner for a warplane and shot it down, killing 176. It was a terrible echo of the 1988 downing of an airliner by the U.S. warship Vincennes in another moment of high military anxiety.
Reasons they aren’t
Oil traders therefore have much reason to be nervous. But they aren’t. Why?
A big reason, which I noted in a previous Conversation article, is that the global oil market has abundant supply, fed by soaring U.S. production. In under a decade, America has been transformed from a huge importer to a major new exporter. These exports grew from 0.6 million barrels per day in early 2017 to over 4 million by December 2019.
For several years, OPEC and Russia have cut their own production to keep prices from falling, due to U.S. supply. Also, oil demand has weakened due to the global economic slowdown, caused by the U.S.-China trade war, a slumping auto industry and other factors. This has supported a perception that the oil market can absorb almost any shock, even the loss of life in a military exchange.
Experienced observers I know say that a stable oil market is often an oxymoron. A host of churning uncertainties exist just beneath the surface. War in the Gulf, however limited initially, could easily get out of hand – that’s what wars do. No one in the region wants this.
Yet no one is in control of an extremely tense situation that continues to worsen and now involves loss of life. To me, oil prices today do not reflect this reality of risk.
Higher prices would be better for a reason that has nothing to do with geopolitics, too. The world needs less consumption, fewer emissions, and help in its shift to electric transport. Cheap oil will not help.
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African cities like Luanda in Angola is experiencing a population boom, and is growing exponentially. And subsequently, business is growing - making it one of the world's most expensive cities for expats.
The Angolan government has been introducing several initiatives to encourage investment and business opportunities in the oil rich country since former president, José Eduardo dos Santos stepped down.
The first new president in 38 years, João Lourenço, took over at the end of 2017. One of his first initiatives was to relax the visa requirements for countries like Botswana, Mauritius, the Seychelles, Zimbabwe and notably Singapore.
Citizens from Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, the Cape Verde, Rwanda and Zambia can enter Angola without having to apply for a business or tourist visa.
“It is clearly an effort by the Angolan government to encourage business and investments into the country, and to alleviate the unavailability of foreign currency in the country and the challenges behind that,” says Tarissa Wareley, immigration specialist at Xpatweb.
She says another innovative decision is to allow people to conduct business under a tourist visa.
This is a concession to investors from countries who are still required to enter the country with a visa. “A tourist visa will now suffice, even though visitors will be doing business or negotiating investments.”
Wareley says the government has also extended the validity of the tourist visa from 90 days to 120 days. The introduction of e-visa applications has streamlined the process to allow for easy access into the country. The e-visa will be issued within 24 hours. The normal processing times for visas range anything between two to three weeks.
If there is an urgent need for a business or investors to enter Angola it will no longer be subjected to this delay.“It allows business people and potential investors the opportunity to be first in the market if there are new opportunities,” says Wareley.
The government is also allowing foreign nationals to partner with an Angolan national to set up a business, without having to invest at least $500,000. According to the World Bank the oil sector accounts for one-third of Angola’s GDP and more than 90% of exports. Given the importance of the sector the government has adopted a more lenient approach towards short-term visas. The validity of these “emergency visas” has been extended from seven days with an additional seven days to a total of 20 days (initial 10 days with an additional 10 days).
Companies generally apply for a short-term visa when they have, for example, urgent maintenance requirements on an offshore oil or gas rig which requires the attention of a specialist technician. Companies, who pay a corporate income tax rate of 30%, have been subjected to harsh penalties because they exceeded the number of days allowed under the emergency visa.
“The additional days would reduce the possibility of receiving penalties and can lead to major cost savings for companies.
”These changes to the visa requirement regime in Angola are important for any investor or company wishing to set up operations in Angola, wanting to invest in the country or increase their business operations in the country.“We hope that streamlining the work permit process will be the next priority to allow for quicker processes times to obtain a work visa,” says Wareley.