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CBN disburses N149.21bn COVID-19 relief loans to 316,869 beneficiaries

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The Central Bank of Nigeria has disbursed a total of N149.21 billion to 316,869 beneficiaries through the NIRSAL Microfinance Bank to alleviate the plight of households and businesses and drive economic growth during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The disbursement was part of the N150 billion Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) for affected poor households and Small And Medium Enterprises.

Governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, which stated this also noted that digital economy would help the Federal Government to drive growth in the next few years.

He said that as the pace of technological adoption increased, government and the private sector must find ways to leverage the digital channels to improve access to finance and credit for all Nigerians.

Emefiele spoke at the opening of the 30th CBN seminar for finance correspondents and business editors, themed, “Leveraging Digital Economy to Drive Growth, Job Creation and Sustainable Development in the Midst of a Global Pandemic,” which held simultaneously in Abuja and Lagos.

Emefiele said the country needed robust digital platforms to boost the economic prosperity of the citizens.

Represented by Deputy Governor, Corporate Services Directorate, CBN, Mr. Edward Adamu, Emefiele observed that one of the strongest advantages of technology was its ability to compress time and space and reduce the world to a global village by providing connectivity at the click of a button to anyone anywhere in the world. He said to further drive growth, Nigeria needed to build a solid digital economy, by focusing on the improvement of digital infrastructure, most importantly, Internet connectivity, digital literacy and skills, digital financial services, digital platforms, and digital entrepreneurship.

The CBN governor said as the biggest economy in Africa with one of the largest youth populations in the world, Nigeria was well positioned to develop a strong digital economy. He stressed the need to focus on accelerating improvements across the five fundamental pillars of the digital economy: digital infrastructure, digital platforms, digital financial services, digital entrepreneurship, and digital skills.

He said, “In our effort to drive change and development, the CBN has over the last decade and a half worked to build an effective and efficient payment system.

“The Payment System Vision 2020 strategy document was published in 2007 and the main objective of the strategy was to promote and entrench electronic payments, as the major channel for payment and settlement by all economic agents, away from the current dominance of cash-based transactions.”

Emefiele said the robust regulatory framework put in place by the bank opened up the payment system to innovation with several new players across Payment Service Banks, Payment Terminal Service Providers (PTSP’s), Payment Solution Service Providers (PSSP’s), Mobile Money Operators (MMO’s), Payment Terminal Application Developers (PTSA’s), and agent banking.

He pointed out that a combination of these payment initiatives had helped to create employment opportunities and further the bank’s effort to build a more financially inclusive economy.

“Today, an SME in Ibadan is able to leverage digital channels to sell their products and services to a wider market beyond their immediate environment,” he stated.

He said the CBN regulatory sandbox was available for fintech companies to explore the use of blockchain technology in areas that would be beneficial to the Nigerian economy.

Emefiele said, “Given the resounding success of this programme and its positive impact on output growth, we have decided to double this fund to about N300 billion, in order to accommodate many more beneficiaries and boost consumer expenditure, which should positively stimulate the economy.

“In line with the growing need to go digital, the application process is done online and requires limited paperwork from prospective applicants.”

He added, “The bank continues to improve our remittance infrastructure in order to provide Nigerians in the diaspora with cheaper, convenient and faster channels for remitting funds to beneficiaries in Nigeria.

“In a bid to reduce the cost of remitting funds to Nigeria, the Central Bank of Nigeria on March 8, 2021 introduced a refund of N5 for every $1 of fund remitted into the country through IMTOs licensed by the CBN. We believe this measure would help to support improved foreign exchange inflows and enable Nigerians in the diaspora to use more formal channels relative to informal channels.”

Emefiele explained that these measures were not new, as several countries had adopted similar processes to reduce the cost of remitting fund by their diaspora communities, and it led to surges in remittance inflows through formal channels.

He said following the outbreak of COVID-19, the country was able to benefit from some of the measures put in place by the CBN to develop a robust interoperable payment system.

He said the presence of these digital channels, along with various mobile and web-based channels, helped to support households and the business continuity and remained critical in mitigating the negative effect of the pandemic on GDP growth in 2020.

Emefiele noted that as a result of the CBN interventions, the ICT sector grew by 14.7 per cent in 2020, relative to 10.16 per cent in 2019.

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Inflow of foreign capital drops by 54% to $875.62m

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The total value of capital importation into Nigeria dropped to $875.62 million in the second quarter (Q2) of 2021, the National Bureau of Statistics has said.
According to the NBS, the figure represents a 54.06 per cent drop compared to the $1.91 billion in the first quarter (Q1) of 2021.

It stated this in its latest report titled, ‘Nigerian capital importation (Q1 & Q2 2021)’.
In 2020, Nigeria’s capital importation plunged by 59.65 per cent at $9.68 billion – the lowest level in four years.

“The largest amount of capital importation by type was received through portfolio investment, which accounted for 62.97% ($551.37m) of total capital importation,” the report stated.
“It is followed by other investments, which accounted for 28.13% ($246.27m) of total capital imported and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), which accounted for 8.90% ($77.97m) of total capital imported in Q2 2021.”
Capital importation into the banking industry dominated in Q2 reaching a total of $296.51 million, followed by financing with $205.88 million and shares with $194.59 million.
In both Q1 and Q2, brewing, fishing, hotels, tanning and weaving sectors had no record of capital imports, the report added.
Similarly, only Lagos, Ogun and the federal capital territory (FCT) recorded capital inflows across Nigeria in Q2.
Lagos emerged as the top destination of capital investment in the second quarter with $780.06 million, Abuja had $95.26 million, while Ogun had $0.3 million.
By banks, foreign firms emerged as the top capital investment in Nigeria in Q2. Stanbic IBTC recorded $310.21 million, Standard Chartered was second with $282.37 million, then Citibank ($94.15 million).
The report also stated that “the United Kingdom emerged as the top source of capital investment in Nigeria in Q2 2021 with $310.26m.”

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Nigerians experience another nationwide blackout as grid collapses

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Most parts of Nigeria experienced total blackout on Wednesday after a national grid collapse, which electricity distribution companies confirmed in separate notices to their customers.
In a public notice sent out to consumers, the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company said the collapse occurred at 12.26pm but did not say how long it would last.
The notice read, “Dear Esteemed Customers,
Following a grid system outage that occurred at about 12:26 pm today, we have been unable to service our customers in Niger, Kogi and Nasarawa State as well as a significant part of the Federal Capital Territory.
“At the moment, only 20MW has been allocated to AEDC as against the over 400MW that they have been receiving in recent times.
“We urge our customers to be patient and promise that the power supply will be restored to our franchise area as soon as there is a significant improvement in our
allocation.”
In a similar notice, Eko Disco said, “Dear valued customer, we regret to inform you of a system collapse on the National Grid that’s causing outages across our network.
“We are working with our TCN partners to restore supply as soon as possible. Please bear with us.”
Ikeja Electric also sent out a message that read in part, “The current power outage is due to a nationwide system collapse that occurred at about 12:26hrs.
“Power supply will be restored gradually to various parts of the network as soon as the grid is stabilised. Kindly bear with us.”

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Niger driver kills three students, injures eight in Suleja

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Three SS1 students of the Government Secondary School Field Base Suleja, Niger State, have been killed by a vehicle that rammed into them on their way from school.
The students were trekking home on the Suleja-Kaduna road on Monday afternoon when the incident occurred.
Three of the students were killed on the spot while eight others sustained injury.
Names of the students that died were given as Abdulhafeez Musa, Kawiyat Sharafadeen and Sunday Paul.
The driver was also said to have been injured and was receiving treatment under police watch in Suleja.
Niger State Commissioner for Education, Hajiya Hannatu Salihu, described the incident as painful and tragic.
She said the students were returning from school to their parents when they met with their death in a preventable accident.
To prevent future occurrences, the commissioner stated the state government would construct speed breakers (bumps) on the roads to schools across the state.

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