The maritime sector through Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) is set to get improved infrastructural boost as Heritage Bank Plc revealed plans to provide financing for building critical maritime infrastructures and other aspects of transport sector projects once policies driving the projects are well structured.
The MD/CEO of Heritage Bank, Ifie Sekibo disclosed this as one of the panelists at the day-one of the International Association of Ports and Harbours (IAPH) Africa regional conference, themed, “African Ports & Hinterland Connectivity,” holding in Abuja.
He also stated that banks are willing to provide the necessary financing and support but the operators must be clear on where they are headed.
“The government will need to develop policies that will manage infrastructure programmes and we as bankers will give support. We are sure we can support, and we are sure going to support,” he said.
He added that the banking industry must stake in financing but we must have an understanding on what the industry wants.
He said Heritage Bank decided to sponsor and attend the conference to understand the focus of the industry.
He also said the banks are willing to offer, and are working on the possibilities of developing long term loans with lower interest rates for operators in the industry.
Although “there is the cabbotage fund and shippers are taking advantage of it. We are still struggling with the kind of long term funding shippers need to attain the level of optimization they need and talk is in progress. We are engaging the relevant stakeholders to make sure we get loans at cheaper interest rates for them but that can’t happen overnight” he noted.
“The commercial rates today are in the neighbourhood of 20 to 23 percent but the cabbotage is between 9 to 13 percent interest rate. But how many of them have been able to borrow from the cabbotage funds given the requirements?” he queried.
He however added that the fund is even for just ship building, thus other aspects of intermodal transport infrastructure to decongest the ports will require external financing.
Speaking earlier, President Muhammadu Buhari advised that every port should have the complement of rail infrastructure.
“To complement the improvement in trade facilitation, we have improved on upgrading infrastructure. Our projection is that by the end of 2021, we will have standard gauge railway across the main North-South trading route.
He said the same level of serious attention is being given to the improvement of road infrastructure, even presently about 25 major highways and 44 roads are under construction across the six geo-political zones with simulation activities on Nigerian inland waterways. “Major inland river channels are being dredged with adequate channel markings for ease of navigation all the way through the Eastern and Northern parts of the country. That is the only way to go if we plan to remain competitive in the maritime industry,” the President disclosed.
The Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi affirmed that federal government was committed to the multi-modal system of transportation from all her ports by improving on the extension of the railways to facilitate the ease of transportation from ports to hinterlands.
“We have started test operations in Warri and other places two months ago. We have reconstructed some railways for standard gauge to further open up the nation’s hinterlands. With the development of dry ports in Kano and Kaduna, with direct rail connection, cargoes and containers now easily transmit to Northern Nigeria. This also extends to Chad, Niger Republic in our determination to promote transshipment of cargoes to Niger Republic.
“We are also partnering with the government of Niger Republic in the reconstruction of Maadi, Niger Republic, from Kano to promote regional motivation of trade,” he said.
The MD of NPA, Hadiza Bala-Usman, said that the development of the African continent was to a large extent, tied to optimal exploitation of its vast maritime resources.
To this, she said, there was no doubt that Africa holds a special space in the global space with 39 of the 54 countries on the continent endowed with littoral assets.
The NPA boss, who is also the Vice President of IAPH, said critical factors for determining ports were the speed and seamlessness with which owners of cargoes are able to move their consignments out of the ports.
The MD of IAPH, Patrick Verhoeven, in his welcome address said improving hinterland connections is not merely a matter of hardware also investing in software, namely people skills and smart information technology.
” With 50% of Africa’s 1.2billion people under the age of 20 and a workforce of 504million expected by 2020, ensuring that the pet industry attracts the right talent as well as making best use of innovations in digitisation and the use of big data is of equal significance,” he stated.
CNN meets Nigerian footwear designer Kene Rapu
On this week’s episode of African Voices, CNN International meets Nigerian footwear designer, Kene Rapu to learn more about how she grew her business and became the successful entrepreneur she is today.
Rapu explains how her interest in fashion began at an early age: “I was always, it sounds a little bit cliché, but I was always stylish because I was passionate, people would ask me for advice. Modelling got me into the fashion world [and I] made a lot of connections from working with Lagos Fashion and Design Week over the years… I did some beauty competitions, I was interested in fashion and beauty, but I wouldn’t say that I knew I was going to get into fashion as a business.”
She explains how a career in fashion wasn’t her first choice and that she originally studied law: “As a Nigerian, you always go for something safe and lawyers are safe… I figured out during my law school year that I didn’t want to practice law… I decided I wanted to go into fashion. I went back to the London College of Fashion and got a master’s degree in fashion entrepreneurship.”
Rapu began designing shoes after experiencing limited shoe options. She tells CNN: “I don’t wear heels, so I am very limited in my choice of footwear, and that’s how it really started…
Sometimes you would order abroad and having someone [who is] travelling bring it in, or you would have to go and search for something cute. It wasn’t at your door step… I found there was that need, which I didn’t find anyone filling at the time.”
Speaking about how her company started, she explains: “I started from home. I worked with local cobblers [and] we made the slippers. And I remember, everyone was like, ‘Oh, we love your slippers, where did you get them from?’ And people started placing orders. That’s really how [we] started…. We opened our first store three years ago.”
Rapu explains to the programme how her designs are influenced by her identity and why she’s proud to support ‘made in Nigeria’: “Our styles are also very much a reflection of myself. The brand is my name, so it is intertwined. We work a lot with Ankara print, which is sort of linked to Nigeria, and so that has influenced us… You see a lot of Nigerian women wearing this print, so they’re excited when they see the print in slippers, as well… The Nigerian fashion industry is growing… There was a point where no one really used to buy things made in Nigeria. We would either buy things that were imported from abroad or we would shop abroad … We weren’t really buying Nigerian. Overall, I would say the past ten years, there’s almost been a wave to buy Nigerian [products].”
Since starting her business in 2011, Rapu has continued to grow her company and was chosen to participate in the prestigious Tony Elumelu Foundation Program. Moreover, Kene Rapu was named one of Forbes Africa’s top 30 game-changers under 30. About the honour, Rapu tells CNN: “[It] was exciting, which was a great honour. I was very humbled… When I look back, I think, ‘How did this thing even? You know, this is insane. This is ridiculous. How did you get to this level?’”
In addition to running her footwear company, the young designer also helps inspire others and give back to the community. She tells the programme: “I started a workshop series at the end of last year… And by the time we were done they were so happy. They couldn’t even believe it. They were like, ‘There must be a catch. Why would you tell us all this information?’… I feel like because I have been blessed to have exposure, to have a good education, to have access to fantastic mentors, I think it’s only nice to pay it forward.”
On being a woman in business, Rapu simply says: “I’m a woman, obviously, but I see myself as what am I good at? How can I fulfil my purpose? How can I work my hardest? How can I do what I need to do? I feel like we all really just need to work together, to be the best we can be.”
Nigeria reportedly drops by 3 points in Global Competitive Index
Contrary to reports that Nigeria improved by 10 points in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index, reports has proven otherwise.
Going by the figures above, the country actually dropped with 3 points in the Global Competitive Index.
Lagos sets to host Second Nigeria Beer Festival, promises Maximum Entertainment
As Lagos State is set to host the second edition of the Nigeria Beer Festival from Thursday October 25th to Wednesday October 31st, 2018, organisers of the event has promised to crown the week-long event with maximum entertainment to fun loving Lagosians.
Speaking at a press conference to announce the event in Lagos on Wednesday, Mr. FolaAdeyemi, the Permanent Secretary in the State’s Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture explained that the festival is in line with government’s agenda to grow the tourism and economy of the state.
He stated that Lagos state is collaborating with beer brewers in the country and their counterparts across the globeto stimulate the economic and tourism potentials in the State.
He enjoined Lagosians to come out in their large numbers to enjoy the ambience of the festival, assuring that the city is safe for fun lovers because of the various infrastructure development by the state such as Light-up Lagos among others.
“Lagos is a city state and in league with great cities all over the world. We are actually moving the state to a 24 hour economy and this festival will be part of the beneficiaries. Lagos is safe for fun and business. We are joining the global tourism world to create impact on the economy of Lagos and Nigeria.” he said.
Also speaking at the event, AkinolaOluwaleimu, General Manager of On and One Events Limited, the organisers of the festival informed that the festival will be held at the EkoAtlantic City, Bar Beach Water front Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos to give it a carnival atmosphere.
He noted that the festival, will promote responsible drinking among drinking-age (18 +) consumers at all its touch points.
According to him, the event, since it debuted last year, has seen Nigeria enrolled into the league of Beer Festivals around the world, and boost the country’s tourism opportunities.
“It will be a gathering of the largest community of beer consumers from across the country and beyond.This year’s edition will be bigger, better and “beertiful”, he said.
He revealed that the 2017 edition attracted over ten thousand beer enthusiasts and consequently the Festival has proven to become a major international tourist event in Nigeria with a potential to compete with other international beer festivals around the world.
“Nigeria Beer Festival will be a carnival week of entertainment, sales and marketing and a gathering of the largest community of beer consumers from across the country to bond and ‘beer’,” Oluwaleimu assured.
He added that the Nigeria Beer Festival will provide a fitting ambience to showcase culture and lifestyle in a carnival atmosphere with various beer brands and other alcoholic drinks in Nigeria connecting with their existing and potential consumers.
Oluwaleimu maintained that the festival, which will commence 4 p.m daily is a big opportunity for major breweries to exhibit and deliver various offerings of beer brands to the teeming consumers to strengthen brand relationship with them. “The timing promises an after work relaxation environment to bond with friends and associates, he said”
He also acknowledged the support of the Lagos State government through His Excellency, Governor AkinwunmiAmbode who found the private driven initiative worthy enough of its endorsement and providing necessary logistics supportin security, health, safety and publicity to ensure a hitch free event.
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