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Fitch Upgrades Fidelity Bank’s Issuer Default Rating From ‘B-’ To ‘B’

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Fidelity Bank CEO - Mrs Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe (1

Olushola Okunlade Writes

Fitch Ratings has upgraded Fidelity Bank Plc’s long-term issuer default rating (IDR) from ‘B-’ to ‘B’, reflecting the bank’s increased creditworthiness.

The rating agency also upgraded Fidelity’s National Long-Term Rating to ‘A(nga)’ from ‘BBB+(nga)’.

According to the global rating agency, the upgrade is a result of the Bank’s improving business profile and resilient financial metrics. The agency added that the improved rating reflected the bank’s increased creditworthiness relative to other issuers in Nigeria, emphasizing that, “Fidelity’s Long- and Short-term IDRs are driven by its standalone creditworthiness, as expressed by its Viability Rating (VR) of ‘b’ ’’.

The agency further stated that the VR reflects healthy asset quality, a good business profile, and reasonable capitalization and liquidity. These are balanced against high sensitivity to Nigeria’s challenging operating environment as well as higher credit concentration as a percentage of equity and weaker profitability than larger domestic-rated peers.

Fidelity Bank CEO - Mrs Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe (1
Fidelity Bank CEO, Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe.

Commenting on the upgraded rating, Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, Managing Director/CEO, Fidelity Bank Plc, stated, “Receiving this upgrade at a time when the global economy is faced with a myriad of challenges, speaks to the strength of our business model, the efficacy of our risk management culture and the commitment of our staff towards creating sustainable value for all stakeholders.  As a bank, we will continue to execute our growth strategy in a prudent manner that allows us to take advantage of emerging opportunities in our various markets”.

Fidelity Bank is a full-fledged commercial bank operating in Nigeria with over 6.5 million customers serviced across its 250 business offices and digital banking channels. The bank was recently recognized as the Best SME Bank Nigeria 2022 by the Global Banking & Finance Awards. The bank has also won awards for the “Fastest Growing Bank” and “MSME & Entrepreneurship Financing Bank of the Year” at the 2021 BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards.

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Comedian Alhaji Musa Appeals CBN Governor For BDCs At 57th CIBN Bankers’ Dinner

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Comedian Alhaji Musa Appeals CBN Governor For BDCs At 57th CIBN Bankers' Dinner

…allow BDCs to commence legitimate operations – Alhaji Musa

Rashidat Olushola Writes

A comedian Alhaji Musa neduwazobia as popularly known has begged the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele on behalf of the BDC operators at the 57th CIBN Bankers’ Dinner.

The comedian neduwazobia intercedes for the Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) while discharging his duties to put some smiles and laughter on the faces of guests at the event, and begged the CBN Governor to tamper justice with mercy.

He appealed to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to allow Bureaux De Change (BDC) operators to continue to sell dollars to retail end to foreign exchange (forex) buyers.

Chinedu Ani Emmanuel known as Alhaji Musa is a Nigerian personality on the air, a journalist, a television presenter, an actor, a comedian, and a content creator. He is famous for adding a unique twist to his pidgin interpretation of daily news on the popular Wazobia FM 94.1 Lagos radio station.

Teni Makanaki thrilled the guests on a digging dance floor with her performance at the 57th Annual Bankers Dinner.

Comedian Alhaji Musa Appeals CBN Governor For BDCs At 57th CIBN Bankers' Dinner
Comedian Alhaji Musa Appeals CBN Governor For BDCs At 57th CIBN Bankers' Dinner
Comedian Alhaji Musa Appeals CBN Governor For BDCs At 57th CIBN Bankers' Dinner
57th CIBN Bankers’ Dinner: "Inflation Is Also Driven By Local Factors" - Emefiele
Mr. Godwin Emefiele, CBN Governor.

Godwin Emefiele, Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says the number of Nigerians seeking foreign education is to blame for the fall of the naira.

Emefiele said this at the 57th Annual Bankers Dinner, organised by the Chartered Institute of Bankers Nigeria (CIBN), in Lagos on Friday 25th of November 2022.

The dinner had the theme, “Radical Responses to Abnormal Episodes: Time for Innovative decision-making” which was appropriate and well-timed.

According to Emefiele, there was a tremendous increase in visa issuances to Nigerians by the United Kingdom in 2022 alone. Central Bank Governor, Emefiele blames Nigerians traveling to the UK, US, and others for education for Naira fall.

The apex bank governor noted that the number of student visas given to Nigerians by the United Kingdom spiked from a yearly average of about 8,000 visas in 2020 to almost 66,000 in 2022, implying an eight-fold increase amounting to $2.5 billion yearly in study-related forex outflow to the UK alone.

He stated that the move had immensely put pressure on Nigeria’s foreign reserves and the Naira.

CBN Governor said, due to this and the need to increase forex earnings, the CBN and the Bankers’ Committee started the RT200 scheme in February 2022.

He added that the steady increase in headline inflation from 15.60 per cent in January to 20.77 per cent in September was consistent with global trends.

Comedian Alhaji Musa Appeals CBN Governor For BDCs At 57th CIBN Bankers' Dinner
Comedian Alhaji Musa Appeals CBN Governor For BDCs At 57th CIBN Bankers' Dinner
Comedian Alhaji Musa Appeals CBN Governor For BDCs At 57th CIBN Bankers' Dinner

Recall that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on July 27, 2021, announced the ban of dollar sales to BDCs as a result of foreign exchange infractions, and pushed genuine demand for forex to commercial banks.

Emefiele in July 2021 said the measure is not punitive on anyone, but it is to ensure the CBN is able to carry out its legitimate mandate of serving all Nigerians.

The Central Bank of Nigeria on July 27 2021 says it has ended the sales of forex to Bureau De Change operators, saying the parallel market has become a conduit for illicit forex flows and graft. CBN also said it will no longer process applications for BDC licences in the country. Weekly sales of foreign exchange by the CBN will henceforth go directly to commercial banks, the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, said on Tuesday in a live TV broadcast after announcing that the bank has retained its benchmark policy rate.

The BDC operators claim they remain the most potent tool for the CBN to achieve its forex rate management.

The Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) National Executive Council (NEC) recently appealed to the CBN to revisit the stoppage of dollar sales to the BDCs to bring lasting stability to the Naira.

ABCON said Nigeria needs to balance fiscal sustainability with the need to mitigate the effects of these overlapping crises on the poorest citizens. The excruciating pressure on commodities especially oil and gas globally is not exonerating the poor in Nigeria.

Teni electrifies the guest with her performance at the 57th Annual Bankers Dinner.
Dr. Ken Opara FCIB, President CIBN.
Teni electrifies the guest with her performance at the 57th Annual Bankers Dinner.
Comedian Alhaji Musa Appeals CBN Governor For BDCs At 57th CIBN Bankers' Dinner
Comedian Alhaji Musa Appeals CBN Governor For BDCs At 57th CIBN Bankers' Dinner

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Corpreneurship Challenge: Unity Bank Splashes N10M Grant On 30 Corps Members

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Corpreneurship Challenge Unity Bank Splashes N10m Grant On 30 Corps Members

Olushola Okunlade Writes

Unity Bank Entrepreneurship Development Initiative – Corpreneurship Challenge, targeted at empowering fresh graduates and Corp Members on one-year compulsory national youth service has, in its ninth edition of the Corpreneurship Challenge held across 10 States recently, doled out N10 million grant to 30 winners.

The winners emerged after a business pitch presentation held across 10 States; namely, Rivers, Delta, Sokoto, Edo, Abuja, Akwa-Ibom, Osun, Kano, Bayelsa, and Enugu, with each state producing three winners who took home cash grants of N500,000, N300,000 and N200,000.

The winners of this ninth edition included Corp Members focusing on developing entrepreneurship in renewable energy, fashion, beauty, agro-processing, confectionaries, etc.

Corpreneurship Challenge Unity Bank Splashes N10m Grant On 30 Corps Members
Left-Right: 2nd Prize Winner – Ilesanmi Olamide Phebe, 1st Prize Winner – Muoneke Gift & 3rd Prize Winner – Ekanem Moses Idorenyin – Winners of the recently held Corpreneurship Challenge Initiative at the NYSC Camp Rivers State.

Some of the winners at the Rivers State NYSC Orientation camp at Nonwa Gbam Tai included Muoneke Gift, whose business plan on renewable energy took home the grand prize of N500, 000; followed by Ilesanmi Olamide’s business proposal on beauty services to claim the N300, 000-business grant for first runner up. Ekanem Moses Idoreyin’s confectionary business proposal took home the N200, 000 grant.

The winners emerged after their business plans were assessed by a panel looking out for business ideas that demonstrate originality, marketability, future employability potential of the product, and knowledge of the business.

The Unity Bank Corpreneurship Challenge has gradually joined the league of some of the most impactful, youth-focused entrepreneurship development initiatives in Nigeria, empowering no fewer than 100 young entrepreneurs over the past three years.

Recently, one of the beneficiaries in Sokoto, Beulah Yusuf, who emerged as second runner-up in one of the editions successfully launched her recycling business with the grant received from the Bank. She unveiled her products widely acclaimed for addressing environmental pollution and waste management inefficiencies, underscoring the Bank’s motivations to sustain the initiative.

Corpreneurship Challenge Unity Bank Splashes N10m Grant On 30 Corps Members
Left-Right: 2nd Prize Winner – Ilesanmi Olamide Phebe, Unity Bank Plc Regional Manager, Port Harcourt/Uyo Region – Mr. Etop Uma Ukpe, 1st Prize Winner – Muoneke Gift NYSC State Co-ordinator – Mr. George Mfongtari, & 3rd Prize Winner – Ekanem Moses Idorenyin during Unity Bank Corpreneurship Challenge Business Pitch Presentation held at the NYSC Orientation Camp, Rivers State recently

Speaking during the finale at Rivers State NYSC Orientation Camp recently, the Group Head, Retail, E-Business, and SME Banking, Unity Bank Plc, Mr. Olufunwa Akinmade, said the Bank was delighted with the impressive records the Corpreneurship Challenge has pulled so far.

“When we launched the initiative in 2019, we set out to empower the next generation of entrepreneurs that will disrupt the job market by creating much-needed jobs across all sectors. Today, we have come a long way and the Corpreneurship Challenge has lived up to its billing.”

Represented by Regional Manager, Port Harcourt Region, Unity Bank Plc, Mr. Eto Ukpe, Akinmade reiterated the Bank’s commitment to sustaining the initiative and mainstreaming the Corpreneurship Challenge as a reliable and impactful entrepreneurship and business empowerment and mentorship program in the country.

“What we have today in the labour market is far from the ideal. However, it is not enough to keep complaining. We must make lemonade out of lemon. We believe that the Corpreneurship Challenge has proved to be one of the most creative approaches to tackling the intractable crisis we have in the job market in Nigeria.”

“Our goal is to expand this program to all 36 states and sustain it for as long as possible to achieve record impact. We continue to encourage the winners to continue to learn the rudimentary lessons necessary to build a successful business. We emphasize that the budding entrepreneurs who take part in this initiative constantly think about the challenges they will face and put the same energy they all have displayed in preparing for this contest in their businesses as they face their post-service year ahead.”

The Corpreneurship Challenge, which has earned the Bank national recognition for its impact on youth empowerment and job creation, has continued to elicit growing interest among the corps members, attracting over 2000 applicants and participation in every edition. 

In partnership with the NYSC Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development, SAED, the initiative prominently features a business pitch presentation that provides the participants with the opportunity to present their business plans and stand a chance to win up to N500, 000 cash in the business grant. 

So far, Unity Bank has invested over N100 million in the initiative which has now produced 118 winners since it was launched in 2019.

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Dangote Sugar Boosts Its $700m Investment; Increases Numan Sugar Plantation By 179% To 24,200 Hectares

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Dangote Sugar Boosts Its $700m Investment; Increases Numan Sugar Plantation By 179% To 24,200 Hectares

Olushola Okunlade Writes

President of the Dangote Group, Alhaji, Aliko Dangote, has announced that the Dangote Sugar Refinery (DSR) Plc is significantly scaling up its investment in the sugar sub-sector in line with the requirement of the Nigeria Sugar Master plan (NSMP).  

Speaking at the Flag off Ceremony of the 2022/2023 Crushing Season and Outgrower Scheme Awards in Numan, Adamawa State, Dangote said the company is making massive investments in Adamawa State through the expansion of DSR Numan sugar refining capacity from 3,000 tons of cane per day (tcd) to 6,000 tcd, 9,800 tcd and to 15,000 tcd.

Noting that increasing the sugar refining capacity will require a corresponding increase in sugarcane production capacity, he revealed that the company has concluded plans to increase its sugar plantation from the current land area under cane production of about 8,700 hectares in 2022 to about 24,200 hectares within the next 7 years. He also assured that the company will double its scholarship and empowerment schemes in its host communities. 

“We will continue to introduce more initiatives to support our host communities. Through these initiatives and our numerous Corporate Social Responsibility activities which are numerous to mention, DSR Numan will be able to touch the lives of the people, bringing social, economic, and infrastructural development to our host communities.” 

Dangote Sugar Boosts Its $700m Investment; Increases Numan Sugar Plantation By 179% To 24,200 Hectares
Left-Right: Group Managing Director, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Ravindra Singhvi; Chief of Staff to the Adamawa State Governor, Prof. Maxwell Gidado; Hon. Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo; Deputy Governor of Adamawa State, Crowder Seth and President/CE Dangote Industries Limited, Aliko Dangote at the Flag-off ceremony of 2022/2023 Crushing Season and Outgrower Scheme Awards at Dangote Sugar Refinery in Numan, Adamawa State yesterday.

He said: “We are thus committing over $700 million to our investment in the Backward Integration Programme (BIP) to enable us to put in place needed infrastructure for the eventual commencement of full-scale production,” he said.  

Dangote further assured that Dangote Sugar will change the trajectory by making Nigeria self-sufficient in the sector.  

Already, the company noted that it has spent billions of naira in developing infrastructural facilities for host communities.   

Speaking, also at the event, the Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo described the Dangote Refinery as the biggest contributor to the sugar development stride of the Federal Government.  

The Minister also commended Aliko Dangote and the Management staff of Dangote Sugar for their massive support through the company’s corporate social responsibility scheme which he said should be highly commended.  

He said Agencies under his ministry will partner with the company to provide the technical know-how that will support the Dangote empowerment schemes in the host communities.  

In the same vein, Governor of Adamawa State, Umaru Fintiri who was represented by his Deputy Crowther Seth said he was amazed by the social-economic transformation carried out by the Dangote Group, adding that it is monumental. He assured the company of the support of the state government and enjoined other corporate bodies to imbibe Dangote’s spirit of job creation across the country. 

Dangote Sugar Boosts Its $700m Investment; Increases Numan Sugar Plantation By 179% To 24,200 Hectares
Left-Right: President/CE Dangote Industries Limited, Aliko Dangote congratulates the overall winner of the outgrower scheme, Christiana Rufus with Group Managing Director, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Ravindra Singhvi; at the Flag-off ceremony of 2022/2023 Crushing Season and Outgrower Scheme Awards at Dangote Sugar Refinery in Numan, Adamawa State yesterday.

Speaking on behalf of the traditional rulers, Hama Bachama   Dr. Daniel Shaga Ismail described Dangote as God-sent and pledged that his people would continue to support the company.  

Aliko Dangote further announced a Free Education for all the students of Dangote Sugar Refinery High School, among other scholarship winners announced.   

The overall best Outgrower farmer, Christiana Rufus thanked the company and promised not to relent in her effort. 

Six farmers mostly women emerged as the overall best farmers in the contest. 

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