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Banks USSD debt has risen to N80bn, say telecom operators

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The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) says banks’ Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) debt has increased to N80 billion from N42 billion in 2021.

The President of ALTON, Mr Gbenga Adebayo, disclosed this during the ICT Growth Conference 2.0. organised by the Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association (NITRA) on Thursday in Lagos.

The conference had the theme, “Creating a Digital Ecosystem in Nigeria: the Hurdles, the Gains”.

Adebayo said the debt owed members of the association was for services rendered to banks.

He noted that in spite of government’s intervention in the matter, many banks were not cooperating as regards paying their debt.

“Some banks are responding while others are not. We are nearing that time when we have no choice but to discontinue the provision of services to banks.

“I think it is dishonourable that our colleagues in that sector know that they have an obligation to service providers and are shying away from it.

 

 

Aviation

Lagos-London air passengers pay over 400% more than Abuja-London fliers

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Passengers travelling from Lagos to London in the coming days might be forced to travel through Abuja to their destination as the former are made to pay at least 400 per cent higher than the latter.

According to a new Vanguard report, passengers flying on one-way economy ticket through Abuja on British Airways pay $501 (about N222,093) while those travelling through Lagos on the same airline and ticket class pay as much as $2,700 (about N1,196,910).

Also, passengers travelling through Ethiopian Airline on one-way economy ticket through Abuja pay N700,000, while those going through Lagos on the same airline and ticket class pay as much as N2.8 million.

The fare differential, according to industry operators, may not be unconnected to demand and supply differentials but also noted that the distance is almost same for the two routes.

Vanguard gathered that flights from London to Abuja take six hours, and 20 minutes, while flights to Lagos from London take six hours and 25 minutes.

Though Air France maintains same fares from both routes the amount is also high at $2,141 on similar ticket class for a one-way journey.

Passengers’ reactions

A traveller who spoke to Vanguard about the development lamented her amazement to the development.

According to her, “I was to travel to London next week. So in a bid to ensure i pay less, I open the booking portal of BA, I was in Abuja and I mistakenly clicked on Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, and i was taken to the price to my amazement, the price i saw there was $2,700 I was shocked.

“I had to check very well to see if i had punched something odd. I realised I inputted Lagos instead of Abuja. So I had to readjust and the price I finally saw was far lower. This was quite outrageous as it was not supposed to be so.”

Another traveller who spoke to Vanguard Aviation World, said: “Why will Ethiopian Airline, and Africa airline put their airfare to London this high? I was expecting their price to be lesser than others but I was wrong.

“Even the price in Lagos differs by a far margin. Why would it be so?

 

The ministry responsible should look into it, as for me it can only be attributed to extortion.”

BA’s spokesperson, Josephine Simmons, gave reasons for the disparity, saying that airfares could differ due to availability, airport taxes and other factors.

She was quoted as saying, “Prices differ by airport due to numerous factors including customer demand and fare charges – including airport taxes.

“Most customers book their flights in advance, benefiting from competitive fares.”

The development has created a series of reactions from both stakeholders and travellers across the country.

While some stakeholders attributed the development to the exploitation of Nigeria’s passengers, others stated that the less demand in Abuja was strengthened by the security challenges.

According to the Principal Partner, Avaero Capital, Sindy Foster, the development possibly might be due to more demand than supply in Lagos.

“If BA had more demand from Abuja price would probably be higher. Most people are not flying direct between Abuja and London. I expect demand for Abuja went down due to security issues.

Flights tend to be lower if there is more supply against demand. It is good that prices have come down in Abuja. Will be interesting to work out why they are still high in Lagos. I suspect there is less demand for Abuja.

The chairman of United Nigeria Airline, Obiora Okonkwo, said: “Why do foreign airlines charge Nigeria so much?

“In the aviation industry, one-hour flight fuel consumption is the same, the only difference is maybe different landing charges in London or Ghana, the rest is the same.

“I can assure you that if Air Peace goes to London today, Nigerians will fly to London with an Economy ticket of N500,000. Today the price is about N2 million, why should we pay such if they are converting from N450 to $1?

“We owe Nigerians this explanation. However, whatever is going on, this is a wake-up call that the local operators have to be supported as they have all it takes to operate internationally.

“Emirates have over $5 billion in support from their government. When we ask for support, it is not free, we pay back. American Airlines have equity of over $60 billion and a debt profile of $70 billion and those debts all come from government support.

“If the local airlines are supported, we can have the capacity that cannot be threatened globally. The easiest flight to operate is a long haul. Short haul is even more difficult as it is stressful to both the aircraft and cabin crew.

“It is even easier to go to London, aviation is the same globally, you are audited by IOSA, IATA and that is, they prevented us and make us looks bad.

“They are also aware that our quality and regulatory standards are high. We get crews and captains coming to Nigeria and they fail our exams and we send them back.”

It would be recalled that Nigeria, a destination of over 22 foreign carriers, manages Bilateral Air Services Agreements, BASA, with over 78 countries.

These airlines operate daily and weekly in Nigeria.

Ethiopian and ASKY, Togolese airline also operated by Ethiopian Airline, together operate 54 frequencies weekly in Nigeria.

African World Airways (AWA) has 49 frequencies per week; British Airways and Virgin Atlantic operate 21 frequencies weekly into Nigeria; EgyptAir with 16; Air France 15; Saudi Arabian Airways 13; Emirates 11; Lufthansa 11; Air Cote d’Ivoire10; Qatar 9; South African Airways 7.

Others were Delta, Royal Air Maroc, RwandAir, Sudan Airways, and Turkish Airways, which enjoy seven frequencies without reciprocity from Nigerian airlines.

Also, Etihad has five frequencies; Fly Mid Africa has four; Middle East Airlines – has four and Air Italy formerly Meridiana has three weekly flights to the country.

-Vanguard with minimal editing and a new headline

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Auto

US used car firm begins Nigeria’s operations, unveils Yuletide promo

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A global automobile company that specialises in premium used vehicle sale and service, Carloha, has announced the commencement of operations in Nigeria with a target at the top of the market.

The firm with head office in the USA has also unveiled a Yuletide promo with a huge slash in prices of its vehicles and free insurance, registration and warranty.

The firm, according to a statement obtained via email, owns and manages several stores and maintenance centres, with over 200 dedicated employees providing comprehensive car purchase, finance and insurance services.

Carloha Nigeria is said to parade a host of premium used vehicles in its arsenal of stocks and well positioned to be the leading automobile company in used vehicle trading business in Nigeria.

Marketing Manager of the auto firm, Mr Mathew Enuoma Aje, said, “We are in business to set the pace in sales and services of used vehicle segment in Nigeria, by making vehicle ownership a seamless process for all customers.”

Commenting on the Yuletide promo, said, “In the spirit of the Yuletide, Carloha Nigeria is offering huge price slash on every vehicle purchased from October 31, 2022 to January 31, 2022. Customers can also take advantage of free registration, free insurance, free first three services, finance option, trade-in-option, and three month warranty or 5,000km whichever comes first.

The End of Year Promo tagged “Drive Your Dream” is exclusive and all-embracive because they all come with freebies that are germane to vehicle ownership and driving comfort.

The essence of “Drive Your Dream” promo is to bring happiness, joy and peace of mind to all customers in this Yuletide, and also our token of appreciation for all year-round patronage in 2022.”

Aje said Carloha Nigeria prides itself with the best of used vehicles of choice brands that are durable, rugged well refined to suit the taste of all customers.

“The class and state of vehicles we stock are rare and cannot be sourced elsewhere,” the firm said in the statement.

The company said it “works with well known used car provider in the USA, using big data technology to select the best quality used car in Nigeria. The replication of the automated system is to position Carloha Nigeria as a viable company that will drive the world with latest technological advancement in automobile engineering that offers bespoke premium services that cannot be seen anywhere in sub-Sahara African.”

Carloha Nigeria listed the notable brands of vehicle offerings as Mercedes-Benz, Toyota (Lexus), Ford, and Range Rover it considered “neatly selected and well finished to specifications with the states-of-the-Arts technology.”

Even as the firm noted that pricing of used vehicle had been a huge algorithmic challenge to the overall business, it stated that automated pricing system is used Carloha Nigeria to fix the right price of all used vehicles.

This, it said, was done to accurately fix each price of vehicle in relation to economic fluctuation and imbalance in the local market.

On after-sale, it said, “The installations of state-of-art technological automated equipment is a proof of Carloha’s readiness to set the pace as a major player in the sales and maintenance of used vehicle.

“To ensure quality standard of vehicles, Carloha Nigeria utilizes scientific method with fully automated management system known as 149 vehicle inspection point on chasis, engine, transmission, exterior, interior, electronic system, road test, and maintenance equipment to meet the demand of the market,” it said.

 

 

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Excitement as NAJA introduces new categories in auto industry awards, announces date

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The Nigerian auto industry has come alive again following the announcement by the Auto Journalists Association (NAJA) to hold the 2022 edition of its annual awards on Wednesday January 25, 2023 at the prestigious Eko Hotels and Towers, Victoria Island.

Auto industry players are particularly excited about the introduction of new categories including the most popular brand whose products are most visible cutting across different models.

Speaking on the new date, Chairman of the Planning Committee, Mr Rasheed Bisiriyu, stated that it had always been the tradition of the organizers to schedule the award ceremonies to coincide with the end-of-the-year festive period, but it had to be rescheduled for the New Year due to some unforeseen circumstances.
According to him, the NAJA awards which annually reward excellence in the Nigerian automotive industry, has over the years become a great platform to bring together critical stakeholders in the industry.
“One thing has remained true to this remarkable contest; it celebrates and rewards automotive excellence. Our jurors are experts in the automotive field and clearly understand vehicles and the mobility sector.”
He also said nominated vehicles would be judged based on value for money, pricing, cost of maintenance, depreciation rate, fuel consumption, warranty & dealer access and insurance.
“It will also be judged on design and functionality which will take into account factors such as safety, environment, seating comfort, space, practicality and ergonomics.
“Nominated vehicles will also be selected based on performance such as handling, braking, smoothness and quietness,” he added.
He said once the expert panel concluded scoring, the automated scoring factors that cover sales performance, segment share and value for money are applied, the nominees in all the categories would be announced.
“Every year, we adapt the scoring system slightly to consider new global and local market trends to ensure the credibility and objectivity of the awards, ” Bisiriyu said.
In his own remarks, Chairman of NAJA, Mike Ochonma, explained that the change in the traditional date would not in any way affect the glamour and credibility of the awards.
He said new categories such as Most Popular Auto Brand had been added to the 2022 edition.
He assured stakeholders of utmost objectivity, credibility and integrity.
“NAJA awards present a platform for the automotive industry to demonstrate and celebrate the advances made in the key areas of manufacturing, assembling, technology, stewardship, franchising and innovation,” he added.

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