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CBN dares House of Reps, Says no going back on cashless policy

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Nigeria’s apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has reiterated that it would continue to implement the cashless policy in line with its mandate to ensure an efficient payment system.

The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, on Friday  said this while briefing journalists shortly after the Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

Emefiele said that contrary to claims in some quarters that many Nigerians would suffer the negative impact of the policy, only about five to ten percent of bank customers would be affected.

He emphasized that  if the Nigerian economy is to compete effectively with those of developed countries, then a payment system that encourages the use of other non-cash channel was desirable.

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Hydrocarbon deposits discovered in Benue

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The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has announced the discovery of hydrocarbon deposits in the Kolmani River II Well on the Upper Benue Trough, Gongola Basin, in the North-Eastern part of the country.

The  drilling of the Kolmani River II Well was flagged-off in a colourful ceremony by President Muhammadu Buhari on the 2nd of February, 2019.

A statement by the Corporation’s Acting Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr. Samson Makoji, explained that NNPC acquired 435.54km2 of 3D Seismic Data over Kolmani Prospect in the Upper Benue Trough, Gongola Basin.

This, according to him was to evaluate Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCo) Kolmani River 1 Well Discovery of 33 BCF and explore deeper levels.

The well was drilled with “IKENGA RIG 101” to a total depth of 13,701feet encountering oil and gas in several levels. A Drill Stem Test (DST) is currently on-going to confirm the commercial viability and flow of the Kolmani River reservoirs.

The Corporation further explained that on Thursday 10th October, 2019, at 18:02hours, one of the reservoirs was perforated and hydrocarbon started flowing to the well head at 21:20hours in which the gas component was flared to prevent air charge around the Rig.

Preliminary reports indicate that the discovery consists of gas, condensate and light sweet oil of API gravity ranging from 38 to 41 found in stacked siliciclastic cretaceous reservoirs of Yolde, Bima Sandstone and Pre-Bima formations.

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Computation of hydrocarbon volume is on-going and will be announced in due course.

The Corporation has also acquired additional 1183km2 of 3D seismic data over highly prospective areas of Gongola Basin with a view to evaluating the full hydrocarbon potential of the Basin.

NNPC has deployed world class cutting-edge technologies including Surface Geochemistry, Ground Gravity/Magnetic, Stress Field Detection, Full Tensor Gradiometry aerial surveys to de-risk exploration in the frontier basins.

The NNPC plans to drill additional wells for full evaluation of the hydrocarbon volume in the Gongola Basin.

It would be recalled that during the spud-in ceremony of Kolmani River II, President Muhammadu stated the commitment of his administration to the exploration for Oil and Gas in the frontier basins in the entire length and breadth of the country. The basins include: the Benue Trough, Chad Basin, Sokoto and Bida Basins.

He also stated that attention would be given to the Dahomey and Anambra Basins which have already witnessed oil and gas discoveries.

The discovery of oil and gas in commercial quantity in the Gongola Basin will attract foreign investment, generate employment for people to earn income and increase government revenues.

 

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A paradigm shift for conflict-affected rice producers in rural Borno

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The Jere Bowl is an irrigated land mass formed by the flow of the Ngadda River in Jere local government area (LGA), Borno State, in Nigeria. Susceptibility to flooding, resulting in a perennially moist soil even during dry season, makes the area favourable to rice cultivation.

In communities like Zabarmari and Gongulong located in the Jere Bowl, farmers plant rice on very large scales twice a year – during both rainy and dry seasons. While rice cultivation thrives, villagers, especially women, earned a living along the rice production value chain, working as parboilers, millers and marketers. However, the competitive advantage of rural actors in the value chain is attenuated by challenges, such as the absence of mechanization, poor knowledge of modern rice processing and packaging methods, and limited access to markets. The situation was further worsened by a decade-long regional armed conflict, which has dislodged farmers from their communities and worsened food security conditions. “Even before the crisis, most people who come to buy rice paddy did not let us parboil for them. The crisis has made business harder and patronage poor”, said 50-year-old Falmata Mustapha, a rice processor from Gongulong.

Old but not gold

“Wufatu is the only method of processing rice that we know”, she said. An age-long local technique of processing rice paddy before milling, wufatu is a common practice among rural rice processors in Jere. Rice paddy is boiled for 24 hours, sun-dried for three days and milled to remove the bran layer and husk.

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Wufatu is a cumbersome and resource-consuming process. Falmata shared that she uses at least 200 litres of water and about NGN 1 000 (USD 3) worth of firewood to process 50 kg of rice, making the process environmentally unsustainable and expensive. Wufatu also subjects women to health hazards as they constantly monitor the boiling paddy, exposing them to firewood smoke. “If I process a lot of rice, I usually have to treat cough”, she explains, stating she does not know if she has health issues as a result of over-exposure to smoke and the absence of functional health centres where she can be examined.

Rice processed in this way is considered substandard in markets, particularly outside Jere, where consumers have other options. The rice paddy is not washed before boiling and residue from pesticides and stones can remain. Boiling the paddy for 24 hours also makes the end product less nutritious, tasteless and with an unpleasant smell.

A sustainable rice parboiling method

“The new method is very different. I am amazed because it makes rice parboiling easy”, Falmata said. In the method shared by FAO during a training for 80 women and 20 men from Gongulong and Zabarmari in May 2019, rice paddy is washed three times after harvest, soaked in lukewarm water for 18 hours under room temperature and steamed for 30 minutes.

The technique, which is locally adaptable in rural areas, requires less resources, time and it is prepared using locally available iron pots with false bottoms. It also keeps the rice naturally tasty and preserves the nutrients. To process 50 kg of rice, the new method helps beneficiaries save up to 72 hours of manpower, about 90 percent savings in cost of firewood and 95 percent in water usage (10 litres). This makes the method more environmentally sustainable than the local method.

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“I will attract customers with low prices now that cost of production is lower.” Falmata is convinced that the new method will increase her profit margin. She and other members of her cooperative group plan to ‘dominate’ the market with the new rice they produce by initially selling at a lower price point. FAO also provided the beneficiaries with the required kits to practice the new method.

Strengthening the value chain

Usually, Falmata and her colleagues could only mill their rice in Zabarmari, where milling is done using old machines with limited capacity. Rice produced by these machines, reports say, is not entirely whole, often broken and still containing stones and other particles. To further strengthen rice production value chain in the area, FAO provided a 300 kg per hour capacity rice miller and a power generator to each of Gongulong and Zabarmari communities. The machines are modern – they mill, destone and polish the rice.

Another two groups of five youths were selected in an own-operate approach to run the milling machines in each community. They will provide the services at a cost to rice parboilers like Falmata. FAO’s support to value chains in Borno will be extended to other LGAs, considering historically valued crops in each LGA. To promote community ownership and asset protection, all beneficiaries were selected in collaboration with community leaders.

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Building resilience

“Efficient agriculture value chains system – enabling rural dwellers to be actors beyond farms – is a catalyst for resilience building in rural areas”, said Suffyan Koroma, FAO Representative in Nigeria. In Borno, the capacity of conflict-affected populations to restart their livelihoods and withstand future shocks is enhanced if they are empowered to play profitable roles in agriculture value chains. As the efforts of the Government of Nigeria to restore calm across the region goes on, FAO’s objective is to support vulnerable smallholders for self-reliance. FAO is implementing this assistance as part of a European Union Trust Fund (EUTF) support targeting smallholders and agro-preneurs in Borno with capacity development programmes, start-up kits and access to finance opportunities.

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Facebook Partners with Teleperformance to open a Small Business Group Operations Centre in Lagos

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Facebook  in partnership with Teleperformance, has announced the opening of its first Small Business Group (SBG) Operations Centre in Lagos, Nigeria, which will provide outsourced support to all English speaking advertisers across Sub-Saharan Africa.

The centre will support advertisers across the region through its Advocacy, Community & Education (ACE) programme, which aims to build engaged communities who are growing their businesses, organizations and communities through social media. The SMEs in this programme will have the opportunity to attend online trainings, and for those in Nigeria face-to-face trainings, that will focus on how to leverage mobile and social media to build brand awareness, increase sales and connect more meaningfully with customers. It will serve as a networking opportunity where SMEs will be invited to join online Facebook Groups, and have the opportunity to learn from Community Managers, share knowledge and expertise.

Meanwhile through its Marketing Expert sales programs which will support businesses in 34 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa, SMEs will receive consultative digital marketing advice from local expert agents, supporting them to find new customers and grow their businesses using Facebook and Instagram. SMEs who take part in this program will also receive scheduled phone calls with marketing experts to create personalized and localised marketing plans that accelerate the growth and development of their businesses.

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Commenting, Adaora Ikenze, Head of Public Policy, Anglophone West Africa said: “With over 90 million businesses globally using Facebook to find new customers, hire employees and engage with their communities, digital skills and harnessing those skills, is now ever more important. At Facebook, we’re deeply invested in supporting communities like SMBs/SMEs across the country, and our investment with the SBG Operations Centre further highlights our ongoing commitment to Nigeria, as well as the African continent.”

Managed and operated by Facebook’s partner, Teleperformance, the opening of the centre, which began operating from mid-July has created full-time jobs for over 35 people.

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