Category Archives: West Africa

South Africa – Nigerian allegations are without merit, says MTN Nigeria CEO Ferdi Moolman

BD Live

BY STAFF WRITER  SEPTEMBER 28 2016, 08:18
A man passes an MTN board in Lagos, Nigeria.  Picture:  AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI

 MTN board in Lagos, Nigeria. Picture: AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MTN Nigeria denies that it illegally repatriated $14bn out of Nigeria, as alleged by Nigerian politicians in the country’s senate.

“The allegations made against MTNN are completely unfounded and without any merit,” MTN Nigeria CEO Ferdi Moolman said in a Sens statement on Wednesday morning.

MTN’s share price on the JSE fell sharply on Tuesday when news of the allegations emerged.

Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that Nigeria’s senate had said it would investigate the claim thoroughly.

However, analysts have questioned the veracity of the claim, saying it seemed unlikely, given Nigeria’s tight exchange controls, that the movement of such a large sum of cash would have gone undetected for so long.

READ THIS: MTN hit by new Nigerian charge

The allegation was that the money had been moved out of Nigeria over a period of four years. Four banks were said to be involved.

This is not the first time MTN has run into trouble in Nigeria. It was fined $5.2bn for failing to deregister SIM cards, which it eventually managed to reduce to $1.7bn.

MTN shares were up 0.45% at R120.31 shortly after the JSE opened on Wednesday, recouping only a fraction of Tuesday’s roughly 3% fall.

South Africa’s MTN denies illegal transfer of $14bn from Nigeria

Reuters

BUSINESS NEWS | Wed Sep 28, 2016

A customer leaves an MTN shop in Johannesburg, file.  REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
A customer leaves an MTN shop in Johannesburg, file. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
South African telecoms giant MTN on Wednesday denied an allegation that it had illegally repatriated $13.92 billion (10.7 billion pounds) from Nigeria, saying the claim was without merit.

Lawmakers in the upper house of Nigeria’s parliament agreed on Tuesday to investigate the allegation that MTN, Africa’s biggest telecoms company, illegally transferred the money out of the West African country.

“The allegations made against MTN are completely unfounded and without any merit,” MTN Nigeria chief executive Ferdi Moolman said in brief statement.

 

The allegation threatens to raise tensions between Nigeria and MTN just three months after the South African firm agreed to pay a reduced fine of 330 billion naira in a settlement with Abuja over unregistered SIM cards.

MTN is the largest mobile phone operator in Nigeria, which accounts for around one third of the company’s revenues. The company had threatened to pull out of Nigeria during the dispute over unregistered SIM cards.

“It’s not a good development but it may stem from the forex crunch in Nigeria. They don’t want forex to leave the country unnecessarily,” said Cobus de Hart, an analyst at NKC African Economics.

“It highlights the fact that the Nigerian central bank wants to maintain a firm grip on the forex market and this will obviously not bode well for investor sentiment,” he said.

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(Reporting by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo and Ed Stoddard; Editing by Ed Cropley)

Nigeria – N3.2 billion fraud: EFCC re-arraigns ex-Gov. Kalu, 2 others

Premium Times

Orji Uzor-Kalu

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has re-arraigned a former governor of Abia, Orji Kalu, and two others on a 34-count amended charge bordering on fraud.

Mr. Kalu, his company, Slok Nigeria Limited and his former Commissioner for Finance, Jones Udeogo, were re-arraigned before Justice Anwuri Chikere of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Tuesday.

The defendants’ plea that the court should await the pending appeal by Slok before the Supreme Court failed.

Justice Chikere refused the defendants’ objection to their arraignment and ordered that the charge be read to them.

Mr. Kalu and others were, in the amended charge, accused of diverting about N3.2 billion from the Abia government’s treasury during Mr. Kalu’s tenure as governor.

They all pleaded not guilty to the charges and Mr. Chikere allowed them on bail on the terms attached to the bail granted them on April 30, 2008.

They had, eight years earlier been arraigned before Justice Adamu Bello, who is now retired.

The court adjourned the case till Dec. 6 for commencement of trial.(NAN)

Is Nigeria facing a triple secession threat?

Daily Maverick

  • AFRICA
Photo: President of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari speaks at the US-Africa Business Forum at the Plaza Hotel, in New York City, New York, USA, 21 September 2016. The forum is focused on trade and investment opportunities on the African continent for African heads of government and American business leaders. EPA/DREW ANGERER / POOL

Just as President Muhammadu Buhari thinks he’s got the measure of Boko Haram, breakaway movements in the Niger Delta and what was once the Republic of Biafra are gathering momentum. Does anyone want to be Nigerian any more? By SIMON ALLISON.

As he addressed the 71st United Nations General Assembly in New York last week, Muhammadu Buhari was in bullish mood. Nigeria’s experience, he argued, is evidence that terrorism can be defeated, suggesting that the war against Boko Haram has already been won.

“Nigeria has made remarkable progress in our resolve to defeat Boko Haram, whose capacity to launch orchestrated attacks as a formed group has been severely degraded,” the Nigerian president concluded.

Encouraging news, even if Buhari is overstating his government’s successes. Yes, Boko Haram is on the back foot, but it is far from a spent force, and is still capable of causing death and destruction in the region. It proved this yet again on Saturday night, when an attack on a town near Chad’s border with Niger left four Chadian soldiers dead.

But what Buhari conveniently neglected to mention is that even as his government makes progress against Boko Haram, it is fighting secessionist fires on two other fronts. In Nigeria, independence movements are like the multiheaded Hydra of Greek legend: every time you chop off one head, another magically appears from somewhere else.

The most serious threat comes from the grandly-named Niger Delta Avengers, who made their presence felt again this weekend, shattering a brief ceasefire in the process. According to Reuters, the militants once again attacked an oil installation, targeting a pipeline that connects Bonny Island to the mainland.

The Avengers claim to be fighting for a fairer distribution of the Niger Delta’s vast oil wealth, which too often goes to feed Nigeria’s fat cats while development in the area remains poor to non-existent. Hence their targeting of the oil industry: since the beginning of the year, repeated attacks have forced down oil production by a hefty 2.1-million barrels a day, adding to Nigeria’s already-considerable economic woes.

As the Avengers grow in strength, seemingly unperturbed by a military offensive designed to stop them, so do their demands. Now they’re talking about “the restoration of our right to peaceful self-determination”, with the intention of pressing for complete autonomy. And they are threatening to force the issue through violence if they don’t get what they want.

Last month’s ceasefire was supposed to provide a little breathing space for talks about some kind of peaceful resolution, but the Avengers maintain that the government refused to speak to them – hence the new attack. It’s a troubling development, and one that will worry Buhari even more than the continued Boko Haram-related instability. Boko Haram can terrorise Nigeria’s north-east; the Avengers, by disrupting the oil supply, can impact the entire country.

But even if Buhari does succeed in smashing Boko Haram, and placating the restive Niger Delta – unlikely given that both are enormous, seemingly intractable problems – he’s now got a third secessionist movement to worry about. The self-proclaimed, short-lived Republic of Biafra may have been brutally smashed by the Nigerian army in 1970 – leaving 3-million civilians dead in its wake – but the tensions that led to its creation have never really disappeared. Many Igbo still feel marginalised and discriminated against, and a new group has been capitalising on these long-stranding grievances.

The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) have placed the Biafra issue firmly back on the national agenda, with repeated calls for a Brexit-style referendum on whether to remain within Nigeria or not, backed up by protest action. The arrest last year on dubious treason charges of IPOB’s leader, Nnamdi Kanu, appears to have backfired: if the intention was to silence him, his detention has only made him a martyr, and amplified his message. So much so that even the Niger Delta Avengers have taken up his cause, making Kanu’s release a condition for their negotiations with the government.

But Buhari has repeatedly made it clear that the chance of re-secession for Biafra is non-existent. Most recently, in response to protests from pro-Biafra activist groups in New York, Buhari reiterated that he had no plans to hold a referendum on the subject, and advised activists to form a political party to advocate their position through Nigeria’s democratic channels.

Individually, Boko Haram, the Niger Delta Avengers and IPOB all represent major challenges to the federal government’s authority. Taken together, however, it becomes clear that this country we call Nigeria remains a tenuous, fragile construct, even 56 years after independence. Can Buhari hold it together? DM

Photo: President of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari speaks at the US-Africa Business Forum at the Plaza Hotel, in New York City, New York, USA, 21 September 2016. The forum is focused on trade and investment opportunities on the African continent for African heads of government and American business leaders. EPA/DREW ANGERER / POOL

Nigeria – 8 soldiers and 25 suspected militants killed in Boko Haram clash

Al Jazeera

At least eight soldiers and 25 attackers die in separate strikes as armed group continues to hit military targets.

The attacks brought the official death toll of troops killed the past week to 10 [Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters]
The attacks brought the official death toll of troops killed the past week to 10 [Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters]

Boko Haram has killed at least eight soldiers in two attacks in northeastern Nigeria while more than two dozen fighters also died, according to the military.

The armed group ambushed a convoy late on Sunday near Bama, 70km southeast of Maiduguri, resulting in the deaths of an army officer, three soldiers, and three attackers, an army statement said on Monday.

Earlier in the day gunmen attacked an army position at Logomani, 110km northeast of Maiduguri city, killing four soldiers, it said. The army said at least 22 fighters died in the firefight.

The attacks brought the official death toll of troops killed in the past week to 10 with 24 others wounded.

However, Boko Haram claimed more than 40 soldiers from a multinational army were killed in just one attack last week.

On Sunday, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau appeared in a video denying military reports that he was fatally wounded last month. He also insisted he remained in charge despite the fact that ISIL appointed a new leader of Boko Haram, which is also known as Islamic State West Africa Province.

In the video, Shekau taunted parents of the more than 200 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped in 2014, saying they will see their daughters only if the government swaps them for detained leaders of the group.

“To the people of Chibok: You have not seen the worst yet,” Shekau said, ending with laughter.

Boko Haram’s seven-year insurgency has killed about 20,000 people and displaced more than two million in its effort to create a state adhering to strict Islamic laws.

Source: News Agencies

African Development Bank to give Nigeria $4.1bn loan

Punch

Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja

The African Development Bank is working on giving Nigeria loan facilities of $4.1bn between now and next year for critical sectors of the economy.

The loans include $1bn at a concessionary interest rate of 1.2 per cent for Nigeria to address the 2016 budget deficit and aid her economic recovery.

The President, AfDB, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, disclosed this to State House correspondents on Monday after a meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and other members of the Economic Management Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

According to the AfDB president, the package includes; $1bn in budget support, $300m to create jobs for 185,000 youths, $250m towards infrastructure development in the North-East, $1m grant to deal with challenges of Internally Displaced Persons, $300m for infrastructure development around Abuja, and $200m for the Transmission Company of Nigeria to improve its facilities, among others.

Stressing that Nigeria was the largest shareholder in the bank, Adesina said that the bank was in the country to offer its support in the face of the current tough times.

He said, “I think the times are difficult but I want to commend the government for being bold in taking the right decisions. I think that the fact that the price of crude oil has gone down is a big challenge, because you have 98 per cent external forex revenue coming from the sector.

“So, it has created calibrations; I’m not going to go into the details of all the problems, but what is important is what we are going to do about it.

“I’m not here to lecture the Nigerian government. I’m here to support very strongly. We have said that we are going to support the Nigerian government with the budget support to be able to deal with some of the fiscal imbalances that they have. We are looking to consider for an award of $1bn to help to deal with that particular deficit.”

Adesina added that the bank would help to revive Nigeria’s economy, especially by deepening the level of diversification in critical sectors such as agriculture, solid minerals and manufacturing.

According to him, the bank is going to provide in total $4.1bn to Nigeria between 2016 and 2017 for power, infrastructure, agriculture and for the private sector, including financing and lending to the Small and Medium-scale Enterprises.

He also said that he expected the AfDB portfolio in the country to grow to $10bn by 2019.

Adesina, a former Nigerian Minister of Agriculture, added, “We also recognise that power is perhaps the most important challenge that is driving inflation in the country. So, we expect in our portfolio this year to invest in a total of 1,400 megawatts of power to focus on the energy sector; and by 2017, we plan to add 1,387 megawatts to the sector.”

He said that the bank also discussed with Osinbajo and the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, on how to invest in areas of women and youth employment in the country as well as to look for opportunities to support access to finance by supporting the Development Bank of Nigeria with $500m, which will help to provide cheap financing for the real sector that the country wants to grow.

According to him, the bank is also providing $100m to the Bank of Industry to enable it to lend to small and medium-sized enterprises.

Adesina said, “Let me just say that Nigeria is experiencing tough times, but Nigeria is not falling apart; and when people talk about debt crisis, Nigeria is not in a debt crisis. If you look at the fiscal deficit of this country with regard to the GDP, it is about three or 3.5 per cent. It is still way below the five per cent recommended by the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

“If you look in terms of the debt to the GDP ratio for Nigeria, it is 15 per cent. So, there is no debt crisis in Nigeria; what you have is liquidity problem and we are trying for the country to be able to drive down inflation and to be able to make sure we are working with the government to be able to provide incentives for the private sector.

“Because to come out of recession you need more than the government, you need the private sector. So, incentives are very important. The Finance minister talked about a whole lot of incentives that they are going to give and I think that is the right way to go.

“Nigeria will come out of this as a better and more diversified economy than before it went into the recession.”

Also speaking, Adeosun said there was no need to fear over the new loan as it would be put into good use, adding that the government was not over-borrowing.

She added, “And as Dr. Adesina said, we are looking unto them with $1bn budget support; but beyond that, there are lots of loans and initiatives around agriculture, job creation for the youths, solid minerals, women empowerment and women’s access to finance, and access to finance by the SMEs.

“We are not over-borrowing, what we are trying to do is to ensure that this money we are borrowing we use it on the key infrastructure that will drive the economy.”

Copyright PUNCH.       

How threatened are Africa’s elephants – BBC view

BBC

New report confirms grim outlook for elephants

Elephant (file image)
The illegal trade in ivory has seen elephant numbers plummet

Elephant populations in Africa have declined by around 111,000 over the past 10 years according to a new study.

The African Elephant Status report says that poaching is the main driver of the fall, the worst losses in 25 years.

However the authors say that long-term issues such as the loss of habitat also pose a significant threat.

The report has been presented at the Cites meeting which is considering new proposals on elephant protection.


War on elephants – Alastair Leithead, Africa correspondent

A dead elephant
The growing demand for ivory in Asian markets means the illegal trade continues to threaten the future of elephants in Africa
  • Every year in Africa between 30,000 and 40,000 elephants are poached for their ivory, and it’s thought there are only 400,000 left.
  • Even accounting for the newborns, this rate of killing calls into question whether these amazing creatures will still be around in a generation, especially as Africa’s ever-increasing population is reducing the space for them.
  • Organised crime runs the ivory industry.

Extract from The War on Elephants; article on how the very existence of Africa’s elephants is threatened by poachers

More from Alastair:

Why elephants are seeking refuge in Botswana

Shocking reduction in Africa’s elephant numbers


Wide range of sources

Figures published earlier this year in the Great Elephant Census indicated that African elephant populations had declined by around 30% over the past seven years.

This new study from conservation group IUCN incorporates this information but also uses data from elephant dung counts and individual observations amongst other sources.

The authors say the overall total for elephants in Africa is now around 415,000, although there may be an additional 117,000 to 135,000 in areas not systematically surveyed.

This represents a decline of some 111,000 from the report carried out in 2006.

Map
Image captionPercentage change estimates are per year for 2010-2014, so total losses are three or four times the percentages indicated on the graphic

Poaching is the main driver of the drop. East Africa, the region most affected by killings for ivory, has experienced around a 50% reduction in numbers.

However it is not the only cause of concern to the authors.

“We are particularly concerned about major infrastructure projects that are cutting up the elephant ranges, this is a particular problem for road development in central and east Africa,” said Dr Chris Thouless, one of the report’s authors.

“These are all major issues that will have to be dealt with once the poaching crisis is over.”

Community conservation

While report highlights the losses there are also some gains.

Elephant populations in South Africa, Namibia and Uganda have all increased. Elephant ranges have expanded in Kenya and Botswana, with community based conservation showing real success in Northern Kenya.

Map

While these are positives, the overall picture is one of dramatic decline, fuelled by criminal activity that would decimate these giant creatures, if continued.

“Larger quantities of illegal ivory are leaving Africa than ever before,” said Ginette Hemley from WWF.

“The transnational crime syndicates driving the slaughter must be dismantled, and consumer demand for ivory cannot persist if we hope to secure a safe future for elephants.”

The report comes as the Cites meeting here in Johannesburg is facing significant division on how to handle the poaching crisis.

Talks on extra protections for elephants will begin on Monday with a number of countries led by Kenya seeking extra protection.

Others, including Namibia and Zimbabwe, are seeking to liberalise the safeguards and open up a trade in ivory. Another proposal here, which might garner more support, is aimed at ending all domestic markets in ivory. The meeting continues until 5 October.

Follow Matt on Twitter @mattmcgrathbbc and on Facebook.