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FG, Huawei Seal Deal on ICT Programme

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The Federal government and Huawei Technologies Company Nigeria Limited have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the second phase of the Information Communication Technology (ICT) for Change Programme.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, who spoke during the MoU signing in Abuja yesterday, noted that the programme exemplified government’s partnership with private sector organisations to drive the implementation of its policies and programmes.
According to the SGF: “The signing of the MoU signifies the commencement of the second phase of the programme to train and empower 1000 federal civil servants across MDAs in capacity building.

“It’s a further demonstration of the strengthening of the existing partnership between government and the private sector, represented by Huawei technologies.

“This phase of the programme shall be jointly anchored by Huawei technologies company Nigeria limited and galaxy backbone

“This laudable project has directly impacted the Nigerian youth in some key areas such as, human capacity building and cultivating ICT talent, provision of further advanced training in China to 10 high performing students and their subsequent engagement by Huawei sub-contractors in the telecoms sector, issuance of globally recognised Huawei certificate to 1,345 Nigerian trainees based on performance, equipping the students with necessary skillet to begin their own ICT start-ups and partner with Huawei in the telecoms and ICT industry.”

He added that the ICT for Change Programme was also in alignment with the Federal Civil Strategy and Implementation Plan (2017-2020) to enhance the capacities and capabilities of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) performance and delivery systems.

Also, Huawei’s Vice President of Middle East and African Region, Xue Man, in his address, said the programme, which is a training initiative aimed at empowering civil servants with fundamental ICT knowledge and skills, was part of efforts to be more localised and fulfil its social responsibility, not by simple material donation but by mind enlightenment and talent cultivation.

“With our rich experience in ICT, we will design and deliver the programme with our best subject matter experts. Our target is to provide free ICT knowledge training to 1000 civil servants.

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National News

Why $2.7bn Railway Concession Talks with GE Stalled

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The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, has clarified that the federal government did not sign any agreement with General Electric (GE) on the planned $2.7 billion deal to concession and rehabilitate Nigeria’s narrow gauge railway, stressing that the American company was still negotiating with the federal government when it backed out of the deal.

According to him, GE was no longer in the business of transportation and had to hand over its interest in the deal to another firm.

Amaechi said prior to GE backing out of the deal, it had not signed any concession agreement with it or any of the firms involved but was still negotiating with them.

“General Electric did not pull out. One thing that thrives heavily in Nigeria is rumour, I don’t know where you got that information, no concession agreement has been signed, none. We have been negotiating, there is no way you will get a concession agreement in one year,” Amaechi said.

He explained, “What happened is that most of their business activities, they have dropped a lot of (them), I don’t know if it includes energy, transportation and all that. When they found out that they couldn’t continue in that line of business…because they were no longer in transportation business, the next company took over the lease, they didn’t pull out, it has nothing to do with our economy, they were excited about this thing.”

Amaechi revealed that GE had told him that they had for 11 years approached successive administrations in Nigeria to do the railway concession but the company was not successful because previous administrations wanted to award contracts for the railway while that of Muhammadu Buhari, preferred the concession model.

He stated that South African firm, Transnet SOC Limited, which deals in pipeline, port, and rail construction would now take over from GE, adding that a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) would be set up with Transnet and other firms to do the job.

Amaechi explained further, “I said I wasn’t going to award any contract because railway is too expensive. The total investment is supposed to be $2.7 billion, which is N1 trillion. No government can pull out N1 trillion to rehabilitate the entire narrow gauge.

“Now, the South African company has continued, they want to do the rehabilitation, we are at the point of setting up the SPV before we can sign the concession agreement.

“Have we finished negotiations? The answer is yes; the problem we have is that they want another six months to get their ministers in South Africa to give them approval to set up an SPV and we can’t sign without that because there are four companies involved.

“The four companies will form an SPV with which they will come to the table to sign. Each company, especially the one in China, say they will need six months to be able to convince their government to go into the concession. We are good to go, we are waiting for our partners,” he added.

The minister also talked about the status of work on the Lagos-to-Kano rail line, stating that bad weather and not lack of funds had contributed to the slow pace of work on the line.

According to him, “The weather is the problem, unlike the past government that could not pay counterpart fund, this time we paid 100 per cent counterpart funding. The president insisted that we must pay 100 per cent and get going.

“The problem at this time wasn’t funding, it was the weather – the rain was heavy and the construction of railway is like construction of roads. We are already laying tracks; our target is to get to Ebute Metta by February.”

He noted that the line had not experienced any Right of Way (RoW) challenges in Oyo; Ogun; and Lagos States.
Amaechi added that contractors were working out how to deal with RoW in Lagos, which he said was built up with gas and water pipelines to deal with.

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Money

FG begins fresh negotiations for power plants

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As the federal government resumes privatisation of some national assets, THISDAY learnt at the weekend that negotiation of fresh terms has begun with preferred bidders of three power generation plants of the National Independent Power Projects (NIPPs) that have been slated for sale.
The power plants to be sold in the first phase of the resumed assets sales are 630.5 megawatts (MW)-capacity Calabar power station; 504MW-capacity plant in Geregu, Kogi State; and the 518MW-capacity plant in Omotosho, Ondo State.
The preferred bidders are EMA Consortium, which initially won the NIPP Calabar Genco at $625 million; Omotosho Electric Power, which won Omotosho Genco at $659.9 million; and Seoul Electric Power Ltd that won that of Geregu Genco at $690.2 million.
The three Gencos were built and currently being managed by the Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited (NDPHC).
It was gathered from reliable sources that in the resumed negotiations, factors such as sources of funds to finance the acquisition; operational statuses of the three plants; and the financial liquidity challenge of Nigeria’s power market have been key priorities to both government and the investors.
Ten Gencos built under the NIPPs by the NDPHC were initially slated for sale in 2014, but factors, which comprised of market liquidity challenges; inadequate gas supply; and other problems, led to the discontinuation of the process.
A decision to complete the transactions in phases starting with fully operational Gencos was subsequently taken by the federal government.
Also, in February 2016, the Chairman of the NDPHC board, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, approved the first phase of the transaction to commence with Calabar, Geregu and Omotosho.

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Money

N500 billion payment threatens power supply

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Power Generation Companies (GenCos) have not received payment for electricity generated since June from the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET).

The Executive Secretary of the Association of Power Generation Companies (APGC) Dr. Joy Ogaji said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja yesterday.

Ogaji also told NAN that GenCos were owed N500 billion for power generated from 2013, when they took over electricity generation, to December 2016.

“The GenCos debt is classified into about three categories, so when you are talking about debts, before even NBET came, market operators were owing GenCos.

“If you calculate all that debt from 2013 to December 2016, the GenCos debt was about N500 billion, this debt that we are talking about is without interest.

“Because the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) says if they delay paying, GenCos are entitled to interest, so this amount is without interest, it does not also cover the cost for available capacity.

“You know GenCos makes capacity available, so the power that is been rejected it does not cover that one, because that one is a different cost.

“From 2017, NBET, through Federal Government’s Payment Assurance Guarantee has only been paying 80 percent and there is 20 percent shortfall till date.

“And for this year, since June we have not been paid,’’ Ogaji said.

On GenCos meeting their obligation on payment to gas companies, he said: “GenCos have been taking loans from the banks to be able to meet their obligations in the market and put power on the grid.

“Because when we don’t generate, we are called saboteurs they will start saying that the owners of the GenCos are PDP members that is why they are not generating.

“But the government is not looking at the cost implication of putting power on the grid and you are not paying for it.

“There is no business person that will want to continue business when you are not getting anything on it and upon that you are being accused that you are a saboteur.’’

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Science & Technology

MTN outlines plan to list on NSE

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The MTN Group, Africa’s largest wireless carrier, increased sales from operations by 10 percent from a year earlier and added 2.5 million subscribers in the third quarter despite regulatory pressures in its largest markets that have wiped out more than two-thirds of the company value in recent years.

According to Bloomberg, the Johannesburg-based firm boosted customer base to 225.4 million.
The company has been embroiled in regulatory disputes in its largest markets, including Nigeria, Iran, and Ghana.

“MTN recorded an improved operational performance in many markets in the third quarter with group service revenue up 10 percent year-on-year, ahead of our medium-term target of upper-single-digit growth,” its Chief Executive Officer Rob Shuter said in a statement yesterday.

“These results were delivered in challenging operating and currency conditions.”

The company that was trading at record highs of R240 share before its first spat with the Nigerian regulators in 2015, is now at around R85 after clashes over unregistered sim cards, the transfer of monies from the country and tax concerns.

The latest accusation was that MTN illegally transferred $8.1 billion of cash from Nigeria.

The telecom company has since denied any wrongdoing.
The company is going ahead with plans to list in the West African nation, in spite of the dispute, Shuter said.

The decision to sell shares as part of negotiations relating to a $5.2 billion fine for unregistered sim cards.

During the quarter MTN also listed its Ghanaian business to get access to spectrum, and could potentially sell some of its Ugandan business to local people to ensure the renewal of its license in that country.

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