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Oil fell by the most since 1991 on Monday after Saudi Arabia started a price war with Russia by slashing its selling prices and pledging to unleash its pent-up supply onto a market reeling from falling demand because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Brent crude futures fell by as much as $14.25, or 31.5%, to $31.02 a barrel. That was the biggest percentage drop since Jan. 17, 1991, at the start of the first Gulf War and the lowest since Feb. 12, 2016. It was trading at $35.75 at 0114 GMT.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell by as much as $11.28, or 27.4%, to $30 a barrel. That was also the biggest percentage drop since the first Gulf War in January 1991 and the lowest since Feb. 22, 2016. It was trading at $32.61.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, is attempting to punish Russia, the world’s second-largest producer, for balking on Friday at production cuts proposed by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

OPEC and other producers supported the cuts to stabilise falling prices caused by the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.

Saudi Arabia plans to boost crude output above 10 million barrels per day (bpd) in April after the current supply deal between OPEC and Russia, – known as OPEC+ – expires at the end of March, two sources told Reuters on Sunday.

German airline Lufthansa, on Friday, said it will cut flights up to 50 per cent in the coming weeks over the coronavirus.

Lufthansa said in a statement that the measure was to reduce the financial consequences of the slump in demand.

The German national carrier had previously said it would be cutting its capacity by the equivalent of 150 passenger planes in the face of plummeting demand due to the coronavirus epidemic.

Earlier, the airline said it would be suspending flights to mainland China until April 24, and Tehran until April 30, and restricting services to other badly affected areas including South Korea and Italy.

Ecobank Nigeria has unveiled a new product offering, Xpress Save and Xpress Loan, enabling customers to conveniently & speedily open digital savings accounts and also obtain short-term micro credit loans using their mobile phones through a USSD platform, *326#.

Ecobank Xpress Save and Xpress Loan, the first of its kind in the Nigeria market, is an online real-time, self-service solution which is suitable for all micro entrepreneurs, artisans, traders, low income earners and the entire unbanked and underbanked mass market population. The Xpress Save and Xpress Loan product is simple to access digitally through the mobile phone and it is available 24 hours every day of the week.

Unveiling the product in Lagos, the Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan said this innovative product is part of the bank’s overall strategy to drive financial inclusion and make full banking truly accessible to all in Nigeria.

According to him, Xpress Save and Xpress Loan is a digital product designed to stimulate micro savings in the economy and at the same time expand access for eligible customers to obtain short term micro credit loans to bridge cashflow gaps thus contributing to the national efforts to deepen financial inclusion.

“We announced our plans to take banking to every neighborhood in Nigeria no matter how far, through our agency banking – the Ecobank Xpress Point. This. we have done and will continue to do until every household in Nigeria feels our presence. Through Xpress Save and Xpress Loan, we will empower these target households with the ability to save easily for the rainy day and also give them access to small loans to enable them to fund their businesses with more ease. All these are in line with the Ecobank Group mandate which is to contribute to the economic development and financial integration of the African continent”. Mr Akinwuntan stated.

Also speaking, the Head, Personal Banking, Ecobank Nigeria, Ayodele Osolake who gave further details about the product noted that “Xpress Save allows mobile phone users to save money in their digital savings accounts (Ecobank Xpress Save account) which is opened simply and instantly through USSD code – *326#. On the other hand, Xpress Loan allows customers who have Ecobank Xpress Save account access short term micro loans instantly to meet their immediate needs”

She stated that “to be eligible for the loan the customer needs to simply open Xpress Save account, meet Tier 1 KYC requirements and our simple credit score. The Ecobank Xpress Save and Xpress Loan product requires no paper work and no fees are charged for onboarding. The product has best in class security features, ensuring that customers’ transactions are fully protected.

Two British Airways staff have tested positive for coronavirus.

The staff, who are now recovering at home, are reported to be baggage handlers at London’s Heathrow Airport.

The development has brought the total number of infected persons in the UK to 163.

However, the airline has encouraged its staff to take unpaid leave as the disease keeps spreading around the globe.

“Public Health England (PHE) has confirmed that two members of our staff, have tested positive for the Covid-19 virus,” British Airways said in a statement.

“The welfare of our passengers and colleagues is our top priority. A dedicated team from Public Health England is in place at Heathrow to respond to any incidents.”

The airport is also cleaning surfaces and providing hand sanitisers to workers “to protect themselves and our passengers.”

A spokesman for Public Health England said that Heathrow already has enhanced monitoring for certain flights and that while it won’t comment on individual cases, in any positive test the department conducts contact tracing, aimed at locating everyone the person has made contact with.

British Airways, the biggest operator at London Heathrow, has already scrapped all flights to China, taking steps to slow down on destinations in Europe, Japan, and South Korea.

The carrier this week announced that it would scrap change fees on all new bookings made between March 3 and March 16, to spur travelers to book tickets.

Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been consulted by the South Africa’s government to help rescue the nation out of recession.

South Africa is currently experiencing economic downturn as it entered its second recession in two years, and Okonjo-Iweala is the woman the nation has consulted to help rescue it from the shackles of recession.

Statistically,  South Africa said the economy shrank 1.4 per cent in the fourth quarter, following a revised 0.8 per cent contraction in the third quarter. Agriculture declined 7.6 per cent, transport 7.2 per cent, construction 5.9 per cent, electricity 4 per cent and retail 3.8 per cent, the data showed.

The former minister tweeted on Saturday, saying that she met with President Cyril Ramaphosa, and members of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council in Pretoria to discuss the way forward.

“With President Ramaphosa, members of cabinet, and members of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council in Pretoria discussing sources of growth for the South African economy and win-win economic interactions with the continent,” she tweeted.

With President Ramaphosa, members of cabinet, and members of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council in Pretoria discussing sources of growth for the South African economy and win-win economic interactions with the continent.

While panic-inducing headlines about the spread of the coronavirus continue to dominate global news, a devastatingly catchy hand-washing public service announcement sung by Vietnamese singers Erik and Min has gone viral, amassing more than 4.7 million views on YouTube as of Friday.

Titled ‘Ghen Co Vy’ or Washing hand song, the track is actually a collaboration between lyricist Khac Hung, singers Erik and Min, and Vietnam’s Health Ministry, providing both practical tips and light-hearted relief during a time of global crisis.

The track is a reworking of the trio’s 2017 hit ‘Ghen’ (Jealous), which amassed 117 million views online.

It features an animated video showing gloved hands flicking away the virus while the Vietnamese-language lyrics Wash our hands. Rub, rub, rub, rub, evenly Push back the Corona, Corona, appear beneath.

Erik, whose real name is Phan Trung Thanh, says the song will not stay limited to Vietnamese.

“We will introduce Ghen Co Vy in English in one or two days, we have already finished recording it,’’ he told dpa.

YouTube user tom cherry left a comment to the video, which read Corona Virus will die when it hears this song. It got 2,600 likes.

The viral video also sparked a TikTok dance challenge, with Vietnamese dancer Quang Dang blending contemporary dance moves with hand washing techniques.

Both the original video and the Tiktok dance featured on U.S satirical news show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, helping the video to go viral.

“Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, That’s a genuine club banger right there,’’ Oliver screamed in delight during the Sunday show.

Nigerian Senate on Thursday approved $22.7 billion as external borrowing plan for Nigeria out of the $22.8 billion requested by President Muhammadu Buhari.
 
This followed the adoption of the report of the Committee on Local and Foreign Debts on the Federal Government’s Borrowing Plan at plenary.
 
Presenting the report, Chairman of the Committee, Sen.Clifford Ordia (PDP-Edo) noted that senate had earlier considered the request for the external borrowing plan on Dec.17, 2019.
 
He said the request was thereafter referred to the committee for further legislative input.
 
He said that the request by Buhari was in consonance with the provisions of Debt Management Office (DMO) Establishment Act, 2003 and Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) Act 2007.
 
He said the Acts enjoined the president to seek and obtain approval from National Assembly in respect to external borrowing.
 
According to him, government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) were invited by the committee to defend their various requests in the loan.
 
Ordia said the committee was informed that based on the explanation of the Minister of Finance, and the DMO, the borrowing plan would be sustainable.
 
He said the committee noted that the proposed projects tied to the loan in the Ministries of Power, Transportation, FCT, Works Housing, Agriculture would have multiplier effect on stimulating economic growth.
 
This, he said would be done through job creation, stimulation of commercial activities and increase in manufacturing activities.
 
He listed some of the sources of the loan to include: World Bank, Africa Development Bank (AfDB), Islamic Development Bank and China Exim Bank.
 
He said that China Exim Bank would provide the highest loan of over 17 billion dollars to Nigeria.
 
Sen. Ifeanyi Ubah (YPP-Anambra) drew the attention of the senate to the poor infrastructure in the South East adding that there was need for an improved infrastructure in the area, especially the completion of second Niger Bridge and railway lines along the its corridors.
 
Following the consideration of the committee’s report, the senate approved the federal government external borrowing plan for 2016-2018.
 
President of Senate, Ahmad Lawan thanked the committee and senators for their inputs in the report.
 
He said the senate through its oversight functions would ensure that every amount earmarked for projects in the loan being sought for would be strictly utilised for the purpose.
Standard Bank of South Africa Limited (“SBSA”) has issued its first ever green bond, via private placement with IFC, a development finance institution focused on the private sector, part of the World Bank Group.

It is a 10-year facility with the express purposes of raising capital for use in on-lending by Standard Bank Group’s (SBG) Sustainable Finance Business Unit and achieving longer tenor financing.

The USD200 million, London Stock Exchange-listed green bond is Africa’s largest green bond and South Africa’s first offshore green bond issuance. The capital raised as a result will be used to finance eligible green assets (renewable energy, energy efficiency, water efficiency and green buildings) aligned to SBG’s Sustainable Bond Framework.

The IFC's Performance Standards, which are part of the IFC’s Sustainability Framework, have become
globally recognized as a benchmark for environmental and social risk management in the private sector.

Sim Tshabalala, Standard Bank Group Chief Executive, says, “This bond issue reflects SBG’s strategic focus on sustainable finance in line with our Social, Economic and Environmental (“SEE”) value drivers and vision to drive Africa’s growth with minimal adverse impact. Our strategy aims to embed social, economic and environmental considerations into our borrowing, lending and business practices in a way that helps us to continue supporting
our clients, whilst producing value for society at large.”

According to Nigel Beck, Executive Head Sustainable Finance for SBG, “When it comes to financing, clients should be considering green, social and sustainable products as investors increasingly shift their mandates to sustainable businesses. Standard Bank is at the forefront in Africa with an innovative and dedicated sustainable finance business offering that benefits clients, communities, the environment and the corporate governance landscape.”

“The bond showcases the role that capital markets can play in mobilizing climate-smart finance and we hope it will inspire more companies in South Africa to unlock investment for climate-related projects,” says Kevin Njiraini, IFC Regional Director for Southern Africa and Nigeria.

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