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More hardship for Nigerians as BUA joins Dangote to increase cement price

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Cement makers in Nigeria are adding more burden to prospective homeowners in the country amid high inflation by increasing cement prices in response to overwhelming demand.

BUA Cement, which at N2.421 trillion is Nigeria’s fourth-biggest company by market value, is the latest in the fray having chosen to up the factory price of the product by about N200 per bag, reneging on earlier promises not to raise prices.

The product now sells anywhere between N3000 and N4000.

BUA Cement reported a profit after tax of N72.3 billion last year. The firm assured Nigerians in April that it would not scale up the factory price of its product.

“BUA Cement Plc, in the past two days, has been inundated with calls seeking clarification as to whether it is part of a purported price increase of N300 per bag,” its management said in a Twitter statement.

“BUA Cement wishes to inform the public, its distributors, and stakeholders that it has not and does not intend to increase its price of cement now or in the near future, barring any material unforeseen circumstances.

“Whilst we are aware that demand for cement is high with current supply levels not sufficient to meet this increased demand, we do not believe the solution lies in an increase in ex-factory price of cement, especially not at this period.”

In June, the cement maker in a statement to distributors reassured Nigerians of its fidelity to easing the economic meltdown by giving its due in the form of retaining cement price at its pre-July level as the country rebalances from its second recession in four years.

“BUA is also of the firm belief that the current retail prices of cement are higher than normal, hence our earlier communication not to increase ex-factory prices in the foreseeable future,” the document said.

“As a responsible corporate entity, we refuse and reject associations with any actions that are deemed capable of projecting any industry we operate as a cartel…

“The timing is not right for any increase on BUA’s part, and we do not have any justifiable business reason to increase our prices (ex-factory) anytime soon. We, therefore, urge our distributors not to panic as well as not engage in any arbitrary hike in the retail price of BUA Cement.”

New price
But a market shows BUA cement prices have risen in the retail market, and marketers blame the increase on their depot price.

A dealer of the product at Lugbe Airport Road, Abuja, who identified himself as Mr Great said, “the fact is that they are not telling the public the truth. They increase the price literally from time to time.”

“Previously we have been getting at the rate of N3,000 and later N3,300 from the depot. That is the situation now.

“We sold at the rate of N3,200, later N3,300 and presently it is N3,400. So, anyone that is telling you that the price of cement is stable, that person is not telling the truth.”

Two other dealers in Abuja confirmed that the current price at N3,400, while another put the price at N3,500.

When contacted for clarification, Ortega Ogra, the spokesperson for BUA Cement, ended the call and did not respond to a text message seeking comment.

The chairman of BUA Cement Company, Abdul-Samad Rabiu, said in Abuja on Thursday that cement prices will crash if Nigeria has more producers to meet local demand, according to the News Agency of Nigeria.

“The high price of cement is of great concern for me; the price is actually high. We are 210 million or 220 million people, 30 million tonnes of cement per annum is actually low for us,” Mr Rabiu said at the annual general meeting of his company.

“No one can really control the price because it depends on demand and supply. We are trying hard to ensure the price is not as high as it is now. Nigeria is growing with a huge economy; we need more plants on stream to cater to the rising demand of cement in the country. Egypt produces 85 tonnes of cement per annum and the demand of cement in that country is just 50 million tonnes per annum. And that is why prices of cement in Egypt are the lowest on the African continent,’’ Mr Rabiu said.

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MTN Nigeria compensates subscribers for network downtime

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MTN Nigeria Communications Plc has announced compensation for its subscribers to make up for the network disruptions experienced last Saturday.

On Saturday, 9th October 2021, MTN Nigeria users witnessed hours of network disruption caused by an outage that left customers without a connection.

Olutokun Toriola, Chief Executive Officer, MTN Nigeria, apologised again to customers for the inconvenience, stating that new measures were being implemented to mitigate a repeat of such an event.

“On behalf of the entire MTN team, I want to start with a heartfelt apology. We are truly sorry for the disruption this caused for so many in our MTN family. We know that millions of people rely on us to stay connected to their loved ones, to manage their businesses, to coordinate their lives. We take that responsibility, and privilege, very seriously. That’s why we are putting new measures in place to make sure we never experience anything like last Saturday again,” said Toriola.

On the cause of the outage, the CEO stated that it was due to an error that shifted all 4G customers onto the 3G band and impacted the whole network, adding that the technical teams were able to rectify the problem.

“Our technical teams have traced the cause of the problem to an error that shifted all our 4G customers onto the 3G band. This overloaded the 3G band, causing a domino effect that impacted the whole network.

“Our engineers were able to resolve the problem. I know that recently other technology companies have suffered outages. I want to reassure you that last Saturday’s event is in no way connected to those. This wasn’t sabotaged, it was a regrettable error.’’

Beyond extending time-bound subscriptions for its customers and as a way to further compensate its customers, the telecom giant said that customers on the MTN network have received a refund for the data and airtime that they used between 12noon and 7pm on Saturday, 16th October 2021.

“While we can’t give you back the time you lost last Saturday, we can give you back what you spent yesterday. Every customer on the MTN network has received a refund for the data and airtime that they used between 10 am and 3 pm yesterday. We hope it shows how much we value our customers.

“You truly are our most important focus. We all have challenges, each and every one of us – young or old, personally or professionally. What matters is how we respond. With you by our side, we will continue to improve and grow. Thank you for all your support. Thank you for walking with us over the last 20 years. We look forward to the next 20 and more with you,” Toriola stated.

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IMF cautions as crypto market value surpasses N820trn

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Financial experts with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have called for caution and regulation as the total market value of all the crypto assets surpassed $2 trillion (N820 trillion) – a 10-fold increase since early 2020.

The experts, Dimitris Drakopoulos, Fabio Natalucci and Evan Papageorgiou, in an article on the IMF’s blog, warned that many of these entities lacked strong operational, governance and risk practices.

They noted that crypto assets offered a new world of opportunities but warned that along with the opportunities come challenges and risks.

The trio explained that crypto exchanges, for instance, have faced significant disruptions during periods of market turbulence, adding that there are also several high-profile cases of hacking-related thefts of customer funds.

The financial experts argued that consumer protection risks remain substantial given limited or inadequate disclosure and oversight.

“For example, more than 16,000 tokens have been listed in various exchanges and around 9,000 exist today, while the rest have disappeared in some form.

The extent of the adoption of crypto assets is difficult to measure, however, surveys and other measures suggest that emerging markets and developing economies like Nigeria may be leading the way. 

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US may sanction IOCs in Nigeria, others for Hydrocarbon production

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International Oil Companies (IOCs), which insist on ramping up production of fossil fuels in Africa may face the risk of regulatory action from the United States.

This was disclosed by the country’s Deputy Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, Jonathan Pershing.

If the US makes good its threat, it will be a major blow to Nigeria, Angola, Congo and other oil-producing countries in Africa, which have intensified efforts to attract foreign investors to fund major hydrocarbons projects on the continent.

In August, President Muhammadu Buhari finally signed the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) to spur competition in the sector as well as attract foreign investments.

But with the position of the US, many of the expected funding for Nigeria’s fossil fuels may be stranded since oil companies would be circumspect about putting their dollars in the upcoming projects.

Western fossil fuel companies planning to develop new projects in Africa would then need to consider the significant risk of regulatory action vis-à-vis the returns on investment in Africa.
Speaking from South Africa, the US envoy urged western investors to consider whether fossil fuels were a good commercial opportunity anymore in Africa or anywhere else.

“There’s a risk of regulatory … and financial activities, and I believe that’s getting more and more explicit. If you are a company looking to invest in oil and gas, you have to ask yourself…‘am I going to be left with a stranded asset?’ I would not bet very strongly on a fossil fuel future,” he said.

Pershing, who was speaking at a virtual media briefing, after being asked about the current rush by western oil and gas companies to develop deposits in Africa, noted that even China had committed to stop building overseas coal plants.

Africa accounts for just 3.8 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the non-profit Carbon Disclosure Project, but Pershing noted it was the fastest-growing continent.
It could, he said: “leapfrog” older carbon-based technologies and embrace renewables, just as it skipped wired telecoms in many places and went straight for wireless.
“Africa doesn’t need to move in the direction of the West’s high-carbon intensity. It can move directly beyond that,” he said.

His comments came despite the United States itself being a major producer and exporter of oil and gas, with recent growth driven by output from shale fields, a Reuters report said.
The US envoy is visiting several African countries as part of efforts to raise global climate ambition ahead of the United Nations COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland next month.

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