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Nigeria’s petroleum bill to be passed by mid-20201 minute read

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Nigeria’s oil ministry will send a new Petroleum Industry Bill to parliament next week, aiming to pass it into law by mid-2020, the country’s Minister of Petroleum, Timipre Sylva has announced.

For nearly two decades, the bill has seen various incarnations under successive administrations, but none have managed to sign it into law. The resulting uncertainty has left oil companies and investors lukewarm about putting their money into Nigeria, Africa’s largest crude producer.

The most recent version of the bill was during President Muhammadu Buhari’s first term, but disagreements between lawmakers and the executive saw the leader reject parliament’s efforts.

The relationship between the legislature and the presidency is now on better footing and could pave the way for a smoother drafting and adoption of the bill.

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Masiyiwa to Bid for Ethiopian Telecoms License

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Zimbabwean Billionaire and founder of Econet Global Ltd, Strive Masiyiwa has disclosed his position on acquiring a telecommunications license in Ethiopia, which is opening up the industry to foreign investment for the first time.

The Horn of African country has announced plans to sell as much as 49% of the state-owned monopoly, Ethiopian Telecommunications Corp and to issue two new spectrum licenses.

Carriers including Orange SA, MTN Group Ltd. and Vodacom Group Ltd. have already shown interest in the country of more than 100 million people, which has a relatively low level of data penetration and internet access.

Econet, through a number of its subsidiaries, is actively developing interests in Ethiopia.

Econet has operations in Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Burundi, with investments in Europe and South America.

The government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had scheduled the liberalization of the industry for early this year.

However, it is yet to provide guidance on the exercise, including any limits on foreign ownership.

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Nigeria posts highest quarterly GDP growth since recession

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Nigeria’s economic growth rose to an annual rate of 2.55% in the three months to the end of December, its highest quarterly growth since a 2016 recession.

Africa’s largest economy grew 2.27% in 2019 from 1.91% the previous year. The country has struggled to shake off the effects of a 2016 recession that ended the following year and has been grappling with low growth since.

Crude production hovered at around 2 million barrels per day throughout the year.

The non-oil sector, which the government aims to make the main growth sector, rose 2.26% in Q4.

President Muhammadu Buhari has pledged to revive the economy and diversify it away from oil over-dependence but investors have been waiting for policy signals that could lift growth.

Recently, the IMF cut its 2020 growth forecast for the country to 2% from 2.5%, citing lower demand for oil due to fears that the coronavirus outbreak in China will cause a slowdown.

Annual inflation in Nigeria rose for the fifth straight month to 12.13% in January, its highest in nearly two years.

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Absa Kenya signs almost 5 million customers on virtual platform

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Kenya’s Absa Bank , a part of South Africa’s Absa Group, has signed almost 5 million customers on its virtual banking platform, which it sees as a major driver for future growth, chief executive, Jeremy Awori announced yesterday.

When the bank first launched its virtual savings and loan app known as “Timiza” — Kiswahili for “Achieve” — in March 2018, it attracted 300,000 customers. By the end of the year it had 3 million users, with lending standing at 10 billion Kenyan shillings ($98.91 million).

The bank, formerly known as Barclays Kenya, also has a separate mobile-based banking service to process normal customer transactions such as deposits and withdrawals.

Absa Kenya, posted a pretax profit of 8.18 billion shillings in the first nine months of 2019, compared with 7.72 billion shillings in year-earlier period.

Kenyan lenders have in recent years , turned to technology as they try to counter competition from mobile phone-based financial services such as from telecoms operator Safaricom’s M-Pesa platform, which had 23.6 million users as of last September.

Absa’s virtual banking app’s competitors include those run by KCB Group’s, NCBA Group and Equity Group.

Pressure to use mobile banking services increased further when the government imposed a cap on commercial lending rates in 2016 that ate into bank profit margins forcing banks to search for new ways to grow their businesses. The cap was scrapped at the end of last year.

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