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Unity Bank boosts capacity building on Blue Economy, empowers 3,000 girls

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No fewer than three thousand girls drawn from Senior Secondary Schools across Nigeria have benefitted from a 3-day capacity building initiative on maritime commerce and National Virtual Maritime Quiz powered by Unity Bank Plc.

The initiative, which focused on Information Communication Technology, ICT, maritime transportation and logistics ecosystem, was hosted by Ocean Ambassadors Foundation to promote the participation of Indigent Girl-Child in maritime commerce.

Unity Bank partnered the programme as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives targeted at the education sector and to draw attention to the imperatives of training the girl-child to participate actively in the relevant sectors of the economy.

This is coming against the backdrop of the negative impact of COVID-19 on the education sector which has affected millions of girls across Nigeria, resulting in “many girls being unable to return to schools and many others becoming child brides,” according to a recent report by the Economist.

The programme coincided with the International Day of the Girl-Child which was marked to highlight how “the pandemic has accelerated digital platforms for learning, earning and connecting, while also highlighting girls’ diverse digital realities”.

Unity Bank Managing Director/CEO, Mrs Tomi Somefun represented by the Chief Customer Service Officer, Mrs Titilayo Abraham officially opened the event.

She said: “Unity Bank has maintained its commitment to supporting the girl child by supporting several advocacy initiatives and investing in the education sector.

“The National Maritime Quiz is yet another opportunity to contribute to the movement to encourage, educate and empower the Girl-Child to participate in the economy while driving access to education.
“We commend the Ocean Ambassadors Foundation for their initiatives aimed at bridging the gender gap in the ICT, maritime, transportation, and logistics sectors in Nigeria.”

Unity Bank has in time past demonstrated commitment to supporting the education sector, especially for initiatives targeted at children.

One of the Bank’s flagship initiatives – One Minute Genius (OMG) and others such as Unity Bank Spelling B Competition, One Day CEO, are annual educational platforms of the Bank aimed at boosting financial literacy among Nigerian children.

Ocean Ambassadors Foundation commended Unity Bank, noting that the sensitization for the Girl-Child to take advantage of career opportunities in the ICT and maritime cannot be over-emphasized.

“This also amplifies the Global Advocacy of the Sustainable Development Goal’s 4, 5, and 14. Gender equality and women empowerment require deliberate transformative shifts, new technological solutions and integrated approaches”, the group said.

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Stakeholders laud NPA’s N89.9b remittance to govt coffers

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Stakeholders in the maritime sector have lauded the remittance of N89.9 billion by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) into the Federal Government’s coffers.
   
Acting Managing Director, Mohammed Bello-Koko had recently said the Authority has so far remitted about N89.9 billion into government coffers this year, after about 120 percent surge in internally generated revenue.
 
Commenting on the development, the former national President, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Eugene Nweke said it is no longer in doubt that Bello-Koko has the ability to productively or prudently manage the Authority to generate enhanced revenue.
   
Nweke stressed the need for the NPA management to also focus on infrastructure maintenance and sustenance. 

A chieftain of the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Mr Abdulhai Inua Mohammed said the figure was truly impressive.

He, however, stressed the need for Bello-Koko to look inwards, beyond revenue generation. He bemoaned infrastructural decay at the ports, and urged the NPA helmsman to do everything possible to get the infrastructure fixed.

An importer and industry expert, Bolutife Egbewole said while he didn’t expect the acting managing director to deliver so much within so short a time, the feat, nonetheless, shows that Bello-Koko knows his ‘onions’.

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‘Multiple products, innovation driving our growth’

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Vitafoam Nigeria Plc  has attributed its steadily impressive performance to continuous investment in innovative products and services across its businesses.

Despite the inclement operating environment, Vitafoam has remained resilient with an average gross margin of 37.90 per cent in the last five years and the company’s shares is one of the most sought after on the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) due to track record of consistent profitability.

Group Managing  Director, Vitafoam Nigeria Plc, Mr Taiwo Adeniyi, explained that Vitafoam was no longer just  about manufacturing of rigid foams but had developed other innovative products through its subsidiaries in Nigeria and overseas.

He spoke during their facilities tour of Vitapur’s plant in Lagos by members of  Organisation for Technology Advancement of Cold Chain in West Africa {OTACCWA) and Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA).

“Vitafoam is consolidating into core business with the introduction of innovative value added products and services. The Company is a full range solution provider for bedding and allied products. It operates strong Comforr Centres as one stop shop for discerning consumers, including baby products The quality products across its subsidiaries provide multiple choice for its different classes of consumers.

“Vitapur Nigeria Limited manufactures insulation boards, and sandwich panels amongst others, Vitavisco  produces elastic foam, pillow, and foam sheet used for construction, Vono produces metal and wood furniture, Vitablom and  the new baby,  Vitapart are into oil filtering production, the first of its type in the West Africa. Vitafoam group has factories in Kano, Jos, Aba, and Ikeja as well as offshores,”,  Adeniyi said.

After the facilities tour, the President, OTACCWA, Mr Alexander Isong commended the Management of Vitapur for the state-of -the -art factory, saying  “ it  meets standard and the management should support the vibrant staff at the laboratory line”

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Four banks borrow $6.21bn from foreign market amid dollar shortage

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In a bid to support their balance sheets with foreign exchange, four banks in the country raised $6.21bn from foreign creditors between January and October 2021.

An analysis of reports shared on the issuer’s portal of the Nigerian Exchange Limited revealed that Access Bank Plc, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, Fidelity Bank Plc and the United Bank for Africa Plc sought dollar liquidity through secure and unsecured notes, three of which listed their notes on the London Stock Exchange.

On February 11, Ecobank notified the NGX of successful pricing of its $300m fixed-rate, dollar-denominated bond, carrying a coupon rate of 7.125 per cent. It said the issuance was oversubscribed three times, with about $900m raised.

The rating of B- from Fitch Ratings hinted that the bank was more vulnerable to adverse business, financial and economic conditions but could meet its financial commitments as of the time of issuance.

The bank also announced a $350m tier 2 sustainability Eurobond raise in July issued with a coupon of 8.75 per cent, which was oversubscribed 3.6x, amounting to $1.3bn at its peak.

Access Bank, as part of its expansion drive, raised two tranches of Eurobonds in September.

Its $500m senior unsecured Eurobond rated B by Fitch Ratings and B2 negative outlook by Moody’s showed there was a high credit risk and vulnerability to adverse business, financial and economic conditions, but with a capacity to meet financial obligations.

The bank said the senior unsecured five-year Eurobond with a 6.125 per cent coupon was three times oversubscribed, ending over $1.6bn at the end of the transaction. It also completed another $500m offering with a 9.125 per cent coupon oversubscribed by 200 per cent, peaking at over $1bn.

This month, UBA announced its $300m senior unsecured Eurobond issued at a coupon of 6.75 per cent. The notes, rated B by Fitch and B- by S&P Global Ratings, showed a vulnerability to adverse business, financial and economic conditions.

Fidelity Bank, in October, raised $400m through a five-year tenor Eurobond with a 7.765 per cent coupon, listed on the Irish Stock Exchange.

Analysts told The PUNCH that the banks sought funding from the international markets to support dollar-needing opportunities, equity positions on their balance sheets, and mitigation of risks posed by the devaluation of the naira.

A financial analyst, Kalu Aja, said that since banks provided dollars needed for the importation of goods into the country, acquiring funding from the international market was a necessity.

A research analyst, Adedayo Bakare, said, “Ecobank and Access Bank, for example, are using part of the funds to refinance existing assets.

“Part of Access Bank’s raise was used to pay off investors for its bond that matured in October 2021. Some of it will also be used to fund its leveraged expansion drive.”

Industry watchers have raised concerns that the budget deficit funding requirements of the Federal Government had resulted in crowding out of the private sector from the local capital market.

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