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Explosion rocks Shell, Agip oil facilities in Bayelsa

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Oil facilities of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) in Bayelsa were attacked on Monday, raising fears of return of militant activities in the Niger Delta region.

This came on a day the Federal Government team was meeting with South-South governors and other leaders of the region in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Reports showed that the facilities were attacked in the early hours and sources around the area said they heard a loud sound from the area.

A youth representative in the community also said residents living around the area were battling air pollution from the gas pipeline and crude leak caused by the damage to the facilities.

A spokesman for Shell, Michael Adande, told journalists that the company shut down the facility immediately it got the report of the incident to curtail its impact, adding that relevant government authorities and stakeholders had been duly notified.

He said, “We have report of interference on our pipeline about 1 kilometre from Ikarama Community in Bayelsa State.

“We immediately shut-in the line and we have informed the relevant regulatory government agencies and stakeholders.

“A government-led joint investigation team will determine the cause of the interference.”

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Flying Doctors introduce catalyst fund for tech startups

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Flying Doctors Healthcare Investment Company has unveiled a catalyst fund to support health tech and fintech startups.

Catalyst funds are used to support inclusive tech innovators in emerging markets — especially micro and small firms.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the company said the initiative tagged ‘FDHIC Catalyst Fund’, would tackle Africa’s healthcare and finance challenges.
Citing the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the FDHIC noted that only a few countries in Africa spend between $34 and $40 a year per person on healthcare as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
This, it said, has led to very high infant and maternal mortality rates across Africa.
The company said solving these challenges requires a holistic approach to drive financial inclusion through private sector investments.
“Through the new Flying Doctors Healthcare Investment Company (FDHIC) Catalyst Fund, we are building an investor collective that will tackle Africa’s healthcare and financial inclusion challenges by backing technology-enabled healthtech and fintech startups in the early or growth stage,” the statement reads.
“Our Catalyst Fund offers corporate bodies and individuals, anywhere in the world, an opportunity to invest in, and get returns from, Africa-based HealthTech and FinTech Investments combined with the satisfaction of making sustainable impacts in underserved communities.
“We provide qualified investors – who are a part of our investors collective — with vetted investment opportunities in the Fintech and HealthTech space.
“The FDHIC Catalyst Fund will channel its investments through deal-specific syndicate investment vehicles domiciled in the USA.”
Assuring prospective investors of its expertise, FDHIC said its founder and management team have deep sector expertise in healthcare and finance from years of work and study.
“At FDHIC CF, we will bring to bear our investment analysis and portfolio management experience,” the statement added.
The company also pointed out that it has investments in companies like Mdaas Global, Helium health, Chisco express, Lifestores Pharmacy & Sygen.

FDHIC said it decided to democratise the membership of the catalyst fund to break away from the conventional.
“We want to give time-strapped executives and mid-level professionals the opportunity to get high-value returns without facing the attendant rigours of managing a full-time business,” the statement said.
It added that individuals and corporate entities can subscribe to membership of FDIHC’s investors collective, in preparation for deal sourcing, evaluation, and eventual investment

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Despite FG’s Plea, Electricity Workers Cripple Power Supply in Abuja, Environs

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Despite a federal government statement pleading with the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) not to embark on an industrial action, the workers yesterday made good their threat, crippling power supply in parts of Abuja and environs.

The affected areas under the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) franchise included Abuja, Nasarawa, Kogi, parts of Edo, Niger and Kaduna states.

Specifically, the protesters attached to the AEDC said they were embarked on the industrial action over the non-payment of their entitlements for over 20 months.

The federal government at the weekend through the ministry of power had cautioned workers against the action, as a consequence of the impact of the ownership tussle in the Distribution Company (Disco).

Minister of State, Power, Mr Goddy Jedy-Agba, had urged members of the labour union to follow due process in airing their grievances, stressing that going contrary to established rules will run against extant laws which may have unintended consequences.

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The minister had advised the union members to be, “cautious and responsible to avoid endangering the fragile state of our electricity infrastructure which the present government is working hard to strengthen.”

But in defiance, members of staff of the company who are demanding the payment of their 2020 bonus and other entitlements and remittance of pensions allegedly deducted by the company to their pension fund administrators, shut down some the of facilities belonging to the AEDC.

“Enough is Enough! Pay us our outstanding pension remittances, thrift/corporative deductions, 2020 productivity bonus, bulk rent and union check off bonus,” some of the banners in a number of the AEDC’s offices in Abuja read.

In its reaction, management of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) informed that though it had available bulk power for delivery to the distribution load centres of the AEDC to offtake for its customers, power evacuation from injection substations across the franchise area had been disrupted.

“TCN regrets this disruption and assures Nigerians that normal bulk power delivery to AEDC will be restored as soon as the injection substations are opened for onward electricity supply to consumers,” a statement by TCN’s General Manager, Public Affairs, Ndidi Mbah, stated.

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Also, a statement from the AEDC signed by its Public Affairs Manager, Oyebode Fadipe urged the distribution company’s customers to be calm as all the pending issues were being resolved.

“Following the industrial action embarked upon by the National Union of Electricity Employees, power supply to some of our areas of operation, especially those on the 11kV network, may be affected.

“We would like to assure all our customers that all hands are on deck to resolve the issues that prompted this action. We would also like to apologise to our customers for the inconvenience and disruption,” the Disco stated.

Thisday

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How to halt N1t electricity subsidy, CBN’s N1.5t interventions

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Electricity stakeholders in the country, yesterday, insisted that removal of subsidy in the power sector was feasible if the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) could streamline interventions in the sector to mitigate the negative impact on the masses.

Last week, the Federal Government alerted that the gap between the Cost Reflective Tariff (CRT), and Allowable Tariff (AT) peaking at N28 per unit of electricity supplied to consumers, this year stands at about N1t.

Coming at a time that it is also considering subsidy removal on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Infrastructure, Ahmad Zakari, had disclosed at the 12th edition of PwC Nigeria’s Annual Power and Utilities Roundtable, that the nation needs to optimise the potential in the power sector through a cost-reflective tariff regime.

Since the sector was privatised in 2013, perpetual interventions through the CBN have served as lifelines to the sector. They include Power and Aviation Intervention Fund (PAIF), hovering at about N300b, Nigerian Electricity Market Stabilisation Facility (NEMSF), which is about N213b, an N140b Solar Connection Intervention Facility, an over N600b tariff shortfall intervention, as well as a recent N120b intervention designed for mass metering among others.

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In March 2017, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved an N701b CBN facility as Power Assurance Guarantee, just as the Federal Government, in 2019, also signed the release of another N600b to bridge the shortfall in the payment of monthly invoices by key stakeholders in the sector.

Fueled by tariff shortfall, receivable collection, technical, commercial and collection losses, financial liquidity in the power sector hovers around N4t as the apex bank, alongside the Federal Government has continued to initiate a series of interventions to douse tension and avert a collapse of the 2013 electricity privatisation exercise.

In about eight years, the CBN would have spent over N1.5t to keep the nation’s power sector afloat although the sector was privatised to survive by itself.

Although most stakeholders insisted that the interventions remained critical, especially in easing the liquidity crisis and attracting further interventions, they maintained that tweaking the interventions in manners that would ease further the masses’ burden and halt arbitrary billing of consumers was very important.

Renowned energy expert, Prof. Wunmi Iledare, noted that interventions by the CBN as a payable loan was understandable, even if it is a forgivable loan.

He insisted that the current structure of the electricity market in the country could mar the interventions, stressing that there must be a decentralised energy planning system.

According to him, while it is good that banks are targeting spending, subsidy may be a political expediency instrument, not economic efficiency hence “it should be disavowed. By the way, estimated billing now termed electronic billing is fraudulent! A quick way to bring subsidy to an end is metering and decentralisation of power management and services. Nearly everything centralised in the fashion of militarism has failed woefully, education, health, energy services road infrastructure, name it,” Iledare said.

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An energy expert, Eseosa Lloyd Onaghinon, stated that the energy sector must be rid of inefficiencies, which is usually passed on to consumers, adding that there are about 40 per cent inefficient losses between transmission and distribution.

“If we do not address such losses that occur, we might as well get into a trap where it’s an unending discussion of ‘subsidy’ even though it is continuous inefficiencies covered up as subsidies,” Onaghinon stated.

For energy lawyer, Osagie Agbonlahor, most of the woes experienced in the sector were responsible for the poor electricity situation in the country, adding that the development should be blamed on electricity operators, revenue collectors and the powers that be.

“How many army, police, air force, navy barracks in the country that their residents pay electricity bills at all? How many government ministries, army, air force, navy offices pay for the electricity that they consume? Who has ever dared to drive to the barracks and disconnect their source of public power supply the way they do to ordinary Nigerians? For how long has this been going on in this country? If you take away these huge leakages, you will see that the ordinary Nigerians have been sustaining and subsidising the electricity consumption of these people.

Agbonlahor said that the government broached the idea of deducting the huge outstanding electricity bill consumed in barracks and government offices under President Olusegun Obasanjo.

He noted that “until we start to do the right things, we are just going to be beating about the bush.”

He asked the government to do a forensic audit of the N1t subsidy to check where the so-called subsidy is coming from.

The Guardian had earlier reported that the failure of federal and state governments, as well as their ministries and agencies to pay over N100b outstanding electricity bills is currently worsening the liquidity crisis in the sector.

The situation has also reportedly led to distribution companies hounding private electricity consumers who pay more through estimated bills and higher tariffs, rather than recover outstanding debts from government agencies.

Guardian

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