Showing posts with label infrastructure. Show all posts
Showing posts with label infrastructure. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Generator fumes choke students to death in Nigeria

At least seven university students have died after apparently inhaling fumes from a generator in a music studio in Nigeria's oil-rich Bayelsa state.

The young men are said to have worked late into Monday night and fell asleep in the locked studio with the generator still running.

They are suspected to have suffocated from carbon monoxide emissions but police say investigations are ongoing.

Many businesses and households in Nigeria rely on diesel- or petrol-powered generators because of inadequate power supply.

Six bodies were discovered on Tuesday morning, while one of them, who was found unconscious, was rushed to a nearby hospital but later died, local media reported.

Residents of the area raised the alarm when they peeped through the window of the studio and saw the bodies sprawled on the floor.

Police arrived and cordoned off the area after moving out the bodies in the Amarata area of Yenagoa - the Bayelsa state capital.

“Investigations are being carried out but based on what we have seen, carbon monoxide poisoning due to generator fumes is a possible cause,” police spokesperson Musa Mohammed told the BBC.

The victims were undergraduates from the state-owned Niger Delta University (NDU) in Amassoma, who were involved in the music recording business to support their education.

This is not the first time generator fumes have killed people in Nigeria, Africa's top oil producer.

In 2009, at least 13 family members, including four children, died after inhaling noxious fumes from their power generator while they slept in a remote village in south-eastern Imo state.

Nigerians rely on backup generators to cover about 40% of their electricity needs, according to a recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Grid power supplies are often erratic in Nigeria, despite its role as a major oil and gas producer.

President Bola Tinubu recently ordered all government agencies to purchase only vehicles and generators powered by natural gas as part of the country's efforts to transition to cleaner energy and cut high fuel costs.

By Mansur Abubakar & Wycliffe Muia, BBC


Nigeria Taps Tinubu’s Ally to Build a $13 Billion Highway

Nigeria’s federal cabinet last week approved construction work on the second section of a $13 billion highway awarded to an ally of President Bola Tinubu, a project that’s ignited a political firestorm in Africa’s most populous country.

The 700-kilometer (434 miles) Atlantic coastal road linking the commercial hub of Lagos to Calabar in the oil-rich Niger Delta has been mired in controversy since being awarded in September to Hitech Construction Company Ltd., a business owned by tycoon Gilbert Chagoury, who was listed by the government as Tinubu’s “confidante” when part of Nigeria’s delegation at last year’s COP28 climate conference in Dubai. The government has been forced to hold a series of public meetings, press conferences and speeches to defend the project, while surrogates have been sent to explain its position on television.

Authorities have demolished dozens of houses and buildings, including sections of the popular Landmark beach complex in the Lagos district of Victoria Island. That’s led to protests from businesses and residents in the area, home to many of Nigeria’s richest people and local headquarters of TotalEnergies SE and Standard Chartered Plc. Nigeria is littered with ambitious projects that are abandoned after huge amounts of money have been spent, and those that are completed often experience lengthy delays.

Chagoury, 78, has been a fixture of Nigerian politics and business for decades. In 2000, he was convicted in Switzerland of laundering money for Sani Abacha, the notoriously corrupt Nigerian dictator, and has admitted to making illegal campaign contributions in the US. The Chagoury Group didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Hitech has built a number of major infrastructure projects, including the privately developed Banana Island luxury housing estate and the 10-square-mile Eko Atlantic development — both on land reclaimed from the sea. The firm has constructed two highways in Lagos that are 16 miles and 31 miles long, but critics question its capability for large-scale projects.

“We don’t feel like we caught the best deal,” Lagos opposition politician Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour said by phone. “Because this whole project did not go through the Senate, did not go through the regular due process and we’re just being stuck with the bill that seems extremely overbloated.”

The bidding process for the contract wasn’t conducted publicly, which has also drawn criticism from civil society groups and opposition politicians.

Works minister Dave Umahi told journalists that the government approved a “restrictive bidding” round for the project, without elaborating on what other companies were involved or why it wasn’t made public.

“People say it was not listed in the 2024 budget,” he said during a May 14 speech at the presidential villa in Abuja, the seventh time he has addressed the controversy around the highway since April. “Yesterday, I quoted the budget number and so everything about coastal road followed due process.”

This year’s budget contains two line items for the project totaling 1 billion naira, a fraction of the 2.6 trillion naira ($1.8 billion) approved so far, according to the version posted on the website of the budget office in January.

“It is curious that the terms of such an audacious project continue to be shrouded in secrecy,” opposition leader Atiku Abubakar, who lost to Tinubu in last year’s presidential election, said in a statement. “It is no secret that both Tinubu and Chagoury are business partners.”

The president’s office didn’t respond to a detailed list of questions, instead referring to an April 8 statement that called the highway an “economic gamechanger.”

Tinubu, who was governor of Lagos from 1999-2007, has long been dogged by allegations of corruption, which he denies. He was being investigated by Nigeria’s anti-graft authorities as recently as June 2021, two years before he was elected president. In 1993, he forfeited $460,000 to resolve a lawsuit in Chicago after US federal authorities said bank accounts in his name held the proceeds of heroin trafficking. Tinubu’s lawyers have said he was never charged over the matter.

Nigeria ranks among the world’s most graft-ridden countries, according to a Corruption Perceptions Index published by advocacy group Transparency International, a key reason why the economy is mired in crisis. Since coming into office, Tinubu has talked about enhancing transparency in government and vowed to fight corruption. In April, he described corruption, self-interest and fraud as “an enemy” of the country.

The task of completing the coastal road project will extend beyond Tinubu’s first term, and cost more than Nigeria’s 9-trillion naira budget deficit for this year. Civil society groups and opposition leaders have questioned the rationale behind spending so much on a highway while ordinary Nigerians battle a cost-of-living crisis and citizens have died in stampedes to get food.

“With the cost involved, you can see that it’s an inflated contract that has been given simply because some people believe that they will make money out of it,” said Auwal Rafsanjani, Nigerian head of Transparency International. Lack of transparency around Nigerian projects like this is “the reason why we are not making any progress in terms of improving transparency and accountability in public sector.”

23-Year Plan

Estimated at 15 trillion naira, the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway is part of Nigeria’s 23-year plan to improve the nation’s infrastructure. The project was first designed as a railway under President Goodluck Jonathan and awarded to the China Civil Engineering Construction Corp. for $12 billion, but fell apart when he left office in 2015.

The following year, the plan was revived by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for $11 billion and given a timeline of three years, which expired without significant progress.

Minister Umahi then announced the project had been resurrected once again, but as a coastal highway alongside some rail, and this time awarded to Chagoury’s Hitech.

As much as 30% of the funding for the highway is expected to come from the government, with Hitech sourcing the rest, according to Umahi. The road will also be tolled, costing as much as 3,000 naira to use for a one-way trip — the equivalent of two day’s salary at the current national minimum wage.

By Nduka Orjinmo, Bloomberg

Related story: Rail projects in Nigeria drive home China's belt and road commitment to African infrastructure development

Monday, May 20, 2024

Video - Nigeria cuts back on electricity sales to neighboring countries

The move is designed to boost domestic supply for Nigerians. Nigeria exports a chunk of the power it generates to its neighbors, despite not having a stable electricity supply for customers at home.


Related story: Video - Concerns over electricity rate hike in Nigeria


Starlink Becomes Third-largest ISP in Nigeria Q4 2023

According to the Nigerian Communications Commission, Starlink Services, LLC, is Nigeria’s third-largest Internet Service Provider (ISP) by subscriber count in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2023. The satellite internet constellation company has an aggregate of 23,897 active subscribed customers, cementing its status as one of the leading ISPs in the country. In addition, the NCC’s data showed that Starlink had 11,207 customers as of Q3 2023. The Q4 figure represents a 113 per cent increase in customers quarter over quarter.

However, the Nigerian-based internet provider Spectranet leads with 113,869 active customers, followed by FiberOne with 27,000 active subscribers. In 2022, Starlink services were approved to provide high-speed, low-latency broadband internet in Nigeria, with a monthly subscription of USD 110 and USD 599 for the complete Starlink kit.

By Deborah Faboade, SPACE IN AFRICA

Related stories: Musk’s Starlink to disrupt ISP market as hope rises for 25m unserved Nigerians

Nigeria becomes first country in Africa to have Starlink




Thursday, April 25, 2024

Inmates escape as rainstorm destroys correctional centre in Nigeria

Some inmates have escaped from the old Suleja Correctional Centre in Suleja Local Government Area of Niger State after a rainstorm destroyed parts of the facility Wednesday night.

Sources in Suleja said the storm during heavy rainfall destroyed parts of the custodial centre around 9 p.m., allowing many inmates to escape from the facility.

The rainstorm destroyed parts of the prison building and exposed the inner fence protecting one of the cells where inmates were kept.

A resident of Suleja town confirming the incident said: “We helped to arrest two of the inmates and handed them over to the prison authorities.”

It was learnt that security agents have been deployed to blackspots in Suleja in search of the fleeing inmates.

Meanwhile, it was observed that security had been beefed up on the Minna-Suleja and Suleja-Kaduna roads, including the Madalla axis of the Minna-Abuja road.

The state’s Comptroller of Prisons could not be immediately reached for his reaction, but a senior officer of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS), who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to journalists, confirmed the development.

By Maimuna Raji Egigogo, Premium Times

Relates story: Set them free! The judge who liberates Nigerians forgotten in jail

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

AMN Deploys Starlink Connectivity in Rural Villages in Nigeria

Africa Mobile Networks (AMN) has deployed the company’s first base station in Nigeria that has connectivity via SpaceX’s Starlink constellation, AMN announced last week.

AMN has deployed over 4,000 base stations for cellular backhaul via satellite across Africa and Latin America since 2018. Last year, the company signed a commercial agreement to use the Starlink Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation to connect its mobile network base stations with high-speed, low-latency broadband services.

The company said that with Starlink terminals providing low-latency satellite backhaul, the company was able to deliver the full capability of its multi-carrier radio access node (the ARN) with 3G and 4G as well as 2G. AMN said LEO backhaul also paves the way for AMN to deliver 5G services, targeted before the end of the year.

Installation of new sites continues throughout 2024 in Nigeria, DRC, Cameroon, Madagascar, Ivory Coast, Benin and Rwanda.

By Rachel Jewett, Via Satellite

Related stories: Nigeria becomes first country in Africa to have Starlink

Musk’s Starlink to disrupt ISP market as hope rises for 25m unserved Nigerians



Monday, April 15, 2024

Video - Concerns over electricity rate hike in Nigeria

An increase in electricity prices by nearly three times has sparked a backlash in Nigeria. The decision to remove electricity subsidies is part of President Bola Tinubu's reform drive to ease pressure on the economy as the government targets up to 2.6 billion U.S. dollars from the subsidy removal.


Related stories: Consumers in Nigeria upset at electricity rate hike

Nigeria to cut electricity subsidy to ease pressure on public finances



Thursday, April 11, 2024

Consumers in Nigeria upset at electricity rate hike

A sudden hike in electricity rates in Africa's most populous country, Nigeria, has sparked a backlash.

Until now, Jude Okafor has spent an average $25 on electricity to run a frozen fish and meat business that he started in 2021. But since last week, when the government announced a rate hike of nearly 300 percent for electricity, Okafor says running his business has been tough.

"There is no escape. Light has gone high, fuel has gone high. And for a businessman, there's no way we can cope with that,” Okafor said. “If there's no light or fuel to ice our fish, what are we going to do? Our business is running down. This is [a] first-class act of wickedness."

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) announced the price change last Wednesday and said only its bigger power consumers, about 15 percent overall, would be affected by the subsidy cut.

Authorities said consumers in that category enjoy up to 20 hours of electricity a day and that the rate hike was only fair to customers who receive fewer hours of light.

The decision to remove electricity subsidies is part of President Bola Tinubu's reform drives to ease pressure on the economy.

Authorities argue that state-controlled electricity rates are too low to attract new investors or allow distribution firms to recover their costs, leaving the sector with huge debts.

Economic analyst Ogho Okiti says the government’s move is a good one.

"The government is not able to pay those subsidies on time, and because they're not able to [pay] them on time, gas companies are withdrawing their gas supplies,” Okiti said. “The timing is right. I think the government had waited till April to do this because they expect power supply to improve from now because of [the] rainy season."

But the decision is being criticized by many, including businesses, manufacturers and workers' unions.

This week, the Abuja chapter of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture, or NACCIMA, said the decision would threaten the survival of many thousands of businesses already struggling to cope with soaring inflation.

"First of all, the timing is wrong,” said Dele Oye, national president of the NACCIMA. “We all know that electricity is underpriced, but to some extent, there must be some level of subsidy. There's nowhere in the world where there's no subsidy. We cannot compete if we have to pay everything at market value when we don’t see market value service from the government. We do our roads. We do our security as investors."

Nigeria last revised electricity rates four years ago. Authorities say the country could save up to $2.6 billion from the subsidy removal.

But a similar reform applied on petrol last year worsened a cost-of-living crisis for many Nigerians after the annual rate of inflation rose to more than 30 percent — its highest level in three decades.

Critics will be watching to see how this newest subsidy removal unfolds.

By Timothy Obiezu, VOA

Related stories: Nigeria to cut electricity subsidy to ease pressure on public finances

Nigeria thrown into darkness as power grid collapses

Video - Nigeria suffers from most power cuts in the world

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Nigeria thrown into darkness as power grid collapses

Nigeria was thrown into darkness on Thursday afternoon following the collapse of the electricity grid controlled from Osogbo, Osun State, around 4:32 p.m.

A source in one of the distribution companies (DisCo) said the feeders for most DisCos nationwide were out of supply.

The development, the source added, has left virtually all franchise areas for DisCos across the 36 states in darkness.

According to the source, as of 4p.m, the grid output was 2984 megawatts. But by 5 p.m., the 21 plants on the grid had zero output.

In February, a grid collapse also left the nation in darkness.

A last check with the source when filing this report revealed that Azura was the only plant on the grid with an output capacity of about 54 megawatts.

Egbin, Afam, Geregu, Ibom Power, Jebba, Kainji, Odukpani, and Olorunsogo, among other plants, all had zero output.

In November 2013, the federal government privatised all generation and 11 distribution companies, with the FG retaining the ownership of the transmission company. This was to improve efficiency in the sector.

However, since privatisation, the grid has collapsed more than 140 times.

By Olawunmi Ojo, Premium Times

Related stories: Video - Nigeria SMEs turn to alternative energy sources to address chronic power crisis

Video - Nigeria suffers from most power cuts in the world




Video - Nigeria to fast-track construction of $25 billion gas pipeline to Morocco

The Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline spans 5,600 kilometres and will likely shape Africa's energy landscape. Officials hope the pipeline will also become a major gas supplier to Europe.


Related story: Possible Trans Niger oil pipeline leak investigated by Shell Nigeria




Monday, March 25, 2024

Video - Manufacturing firms reporting challenges in Nigeria

Nigeria’s manufacturing sector continues to report sluggish growth, as more factories either shut down or become severely distressed. Analysts say their most pressing concerns include the country's poor infrastructure and difficulties getting access to foreign exchange to buy raw materials.


Related stories: Video - Nigerian companies close due to economic volatility

Video - Why Are Multinationals Like P&G, GSK and Sanofi Leaving Nigeria?



Thursday, March 21, 2024

Video - Nigeria SMEs turn to alternative energy sources to address chronic power crisis

One such small business owner operates a hotel in Nigeria's capital, Abuja. He says he lost a lot of business due to electricity issues. But an investment of 1,000 U.S. dollars in converting his electrical system to solar power is helping to lure customers back.


Related stories: Sovereign fund of Nigeria to pilot development of 20 megawatts solar plant

Video - Nigeria suffers from most power cuts in the world

Fifth electricity transmission line vandalised in one month in Nigeria




Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Sovereign fund of Nigeria to pilot development of 20 megawatts solar plant

Nigeria's sovereign fund plans to build a 20 megawatts solar power plant in partnership with a local firm, first phase of a 300 megawatts project, the country's Vice President Kashim Shettima said on Tuesday.

Shettima did not disclose the cost of the project or when construction will start.

Nigeria, with a population of more than 200 million people, has installed power generation capacity of 12,500 megawatts (MW) but produces a fraction of that, leaving millions of households and businesses reliant on petrol and diesel generators.

The vice president said on Tuesday in Abuja at the signing of the joint venture between the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) and North South Power (NSP) Company Ltd for the establishment of the Shiroro Generating Company, the country's pioneer on-grid solar-hydro hybrid project.

The Shiroro Generating Company is hybrid project is located in Shiroro, in Nigeria's northwest of Niger state.

Shettima said the 20 megawatt pilot project is embedded within a 300 megawatt solar programme, to be co-located within NSP's existing 600 megawatt Shiroro Hydroelectric Power Plant concession area in Shiroro, Niger State.

"As a nation, our resolve is to take proactive steps to diversify our energy sources, reduce our carbon footprints and ensure a more sustainable future for generations to come," the vice president said in a statement.

"This project will catalyze the realization of other hydro-solar projects and serve as a test case for deployment of solar energy on to the national grid." 


Related stories: Fifth electricity transmission line vandalised in one month in Nigeria

Video - Nigeria suffers from most power cuts in the world



Monday, March 11, 2024

Niger state names airport after President Tinubu

Nigeria's central Niger state has decided to rename its newly renovated local airport after President Bola Tinubu.

According to the state's spokesperson, Hajia Binta Mammam, the decision to rename the Minna International Airport was made in recognition of President Tinubu's contributions to the state's development.

However, this decision has faced criticism from some Nigerians, who question its economic significance.

President Tinubu is scheduled to visit Minna, the capital of Niger state, on Monday to officially inaugurate the upgraded airport and launch an agricultural processing zone.

The airport, previously known as Abubakar Imam International Airport, was named after a notable Nigerian writer and journalist who introduced the first Hausa language newspaper in northern Nigeria.

Last year, Nigerian aviation authorities announced plans to rename 15 federal airports after prominent Nigerians, including former presidents.

By Africa News

Fifth electricity transmission line vandalised in one month in Nigeria

The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), says one of its critical infrastructure, the Shiroro-Katampe 330 Kilo Volt (kV) transmission line has been vandalised.

TCN’ s General Manager, Public Affairs, Ndidi Mbah, said this in a statement in Abuja on Sunday.

According to Ms Mbah, this is the fifth of such incident between February and March.

Ms Mbah said that at approximately 9 a.m. on Sunday, the Shiroro-Katampe transmission line experienced a trip.
She said that following initial investigations, TCN engineers attempted to restore operation but were unsuccessful.

”Subsequently, efforts were made to identify the fault location. Hence, linesmen were dispatched to physically patrol the suspected area.

”During the fault tracing process, the vigilante team leaders in the vicinity notified TCN linesmen of vandalism along the transmission line.

” The company’s personnel confirmed the vandalisation of the transmission line 1, from Towers 244 to 245, and the conductors stolen,” she said.

According to her, the company is currently mobilising for conductor replacement, pending the completion of security operations at the site.

“The second line remains fully operational, in conjunction with the Gwagwalada 330kV line serving the Kukwaba-Apo axis.”

She said that the wheeling capacity of TCN towards Abuja and environs would be enhanced by the Lokoja – Gwagwalada 330kV transmission line.

”The company is working hard to minimise the adverse effect of these acts of sabotage on bulk power supply to Abuja and environs.

”This incident adds to a series of vandalism incidents recorded by TCN in February, including the destruction of Tower 70 along the Gwagwalade-Katampe transmission line on Feb. 26.

"Other incidents include the vandalisation of towers 377 and 378 along the Gombe-Damaturu 330kV transmission line on Feb. 23,” she said.

Ms Mbah said that there was also an attack on towers 145 to 149 and 201 to 218 along the Owerri-Ahoda 132kV transmission line on 15 February.

She said that on 1 February, Tower 388 along the Jos-Bauchi 132kV single circuit transmission line also collapsed due to vandalism.

According to Ms Mbah, these acts of sabotage are unacceptable. She urged relevant security agencies and host communities to collaborate in apprehending the perpetrators.

"Protection of the nation’s transmission infrastructure is paramount, and collective efforts are required to curb these incidents.

"The company calls on all Nigerians to assist in reporting such acts of vandalism. Electricity infrastructure is a national asset, and safeguarding it is a collective responsibility,” she said.

Premium Times

Related story: Video - Nigeria suffers from most power cuts in the world

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Dangote wants to set up trading arm for Lagos mega refinery

Africa's richest man Aliko Dangote is planning to set up an oil trading arm, likely based in London, to help run crude and products supply for his new refinery in Nigeria, six sources familiar with the matter said.

The move would reduce the role of the world's biggest trading firms, which have been negotiating for months to provide the refinery with financing and crude oil in exchange for products exports. The giant 650,000 barrel-per-day refinery is set to redraw global oil and fuel flows and the trading community is closely watching the way it will operate.

Dangote, whose wealth is estimated by Forbes at $12.7 billion, did not reply to several comment requests.
BP, Trafigura and Vitol among others have met Dangote in Lagos and London in recent weeks to offer loans for the some $3 billion in working capital the refinery needs to buy large amounts of crude, trading sources told Reuters.

The traders asked the refinery to repay loans with fuel exports but so far they have signed no deals as Dangote worries they would reduce his control of the project – and potentially his profit, the sources said. Dangote has also met state-backed firms in his search for cash and crude.

"He is going to try and do it himself," an industry source told Reuters. Sources told Reuters the new trading team will be led by ex-Essar trader Radha Mohan. He joined Dangote in 2021 as director of international supply and trading, according to his Linkedin profile. Two sources said the team was in the process of hiring two new traders.

The refinery took nearly a decade to complete -- and came in at a cost of $20 billion, some $6 billion over budget.

The plant has refined around 8 million barrels of oil between January and February and will take months to get to full capacity. So far, Vitol has prepaid for some product cargoes to help the refinery buy crude, while Trafigura has swapped some crude oil in exchange for future fuel cargoes, sources with knowledge said. Geneva-based Vitol and Trafigura declined to comment. 

By Julia Payne and Libby George, Reuters 

Related story: Anti-graft body of Nigeria visits Dangote Group in forex probe

Dangote oil refinery to help solve fuel shortage in Nigeria

Monday, March 4, 2024

Businesses in Nigeria turn to Moniepoint instead of traditional banks

Chidi Ebule keeps at least 10 payment machines on the check-out counter of his grocery store in Lagos, so his customers can use cards from any bank or fintech company they prefer. But in recent months, he has needed to use only one machine for most transactions: the one provided by local fintech major Moniepoint.

“I try to use another POS [point of sales] machine, [but customers] will say, ‘Please don’t put my card in that. Use Moniepoint,’” Ebule told Rest of World. “The customer knows there could be an issue when you use the other [terminals], and he does not have power over the bank.”

Moniepoint’s light-blue payment machines have become ubiquitous across Nigeria — from megastores in Lagos to roadside shops in Kano. Shoppers prefer it to other options because Moniepoint offers a lower-than-average transaction decline rate and instantly reverses transactions in case of failed payments. The Lagos-headquartered company, founded in 2015, has expanded its footprint across the length and breadth of Nigeria, and is now available across all 774 local governments in the country, according to its website.

“Merchants don’t care about lofty claims about financial inclusion. All they want is to see their transactions have gone through and get the instant payment alert,” Nchedolisa Akuma, senior fintech analyst at market intelligence firm Stears, told Rest of World. “Moniepoint appears to be quite intentional about market intelligence and gathering real-time market intel, which made them quite nimble.”

In 2023, Moniepoint reportedly recorded 5.2 billion transactions, worth over $150 billion. The same year, it ranked second in the Financial Times’ list of Africa’s fastest-growing companies. By January 2024, around 2.3 million businesses were using Moniepoint’s payment machines, a company representative told Rest of World. The bulk of Moniepoint’s earnings come from the transaction charges on its point-of-sales machines and its online payment gateway. It also has a microfinance bank license and offers business loans.

When it first launched, Moniepoint was named TeamApt, and built software for traditional banks. In 2019, it obtained a government license for agency banking — a model that allows companies to act as intermediaries between banks and their customers.

“We just felt that banks are not executing these things the right way, and can we get into this space and execute it right?” Tunde Olofin, managing director of Moniepoint’s banking arm, told Rest of World.

So far, Moniepoint has raised over $57 million from investors such as QED Investors, Quantum Capital Partners, and Global Ventures. The company’s growth is aided by its network of more than 600,000 on-the-ground “business managers,” who earn commissions for onboarding business owners to the platform and distributing the POS terminals, Olofin said.

In early 2023, when Nigeria experienced an acute cash crisis after the government changed the currency’s design, Moniepoint came to the rescue of many small businesses.

Oberry Agamah, who owns a phone accessories shop in Lagos, told Rest of World she started using Moniepoint’s payment machines during that time. The ones provided by other banks could not process transactions smoothly, she said, due to the pressure on the country’s banking infrastructure.

Before she began using the Moniepoint machines, Agamah’s business suffered: She struggled to process customers’ transactions, and had to deal with shoppers who bought goods and disappeared after making unsuccessful digital transfers.

“Before, receiving transfers in our normal accounts was hell — they wouldn’t go in time, and customers were going away with our money,” Agamah said. “The experience with Moniepoint is very nice, and it has made my business very easy in the aspect of receiving transfers, and I receive [them] very fast.”

Moniepoint’s systems are designed to expand based on the volume of transactions, Solomon Amadi, the company’s vice president of payment infrastructure, told Rest of World. “Many of the other players in the industry don’t have a lot of control over their core banking, [but] we do … and we have optimized that process well enough that the customer is priority,” he said.

In June 2023, Moniepoint’s closest rival in Nigeria was Chinese-owned fintech OPay — backed by SoftBank Vision Fund and Sequoia Capital China. OPay had a 37% share of the Nigerian point-of-sales agents network, according to the Nigerian Financial Services Report. Moniepoint came in second with a 20% share.

But Moniepoint is better placed than its rivals because of the bouquet of financial services it offers, Olaoluwa Oyedele, vice president of growth and product at Lagos-based fintech startup Earnipay, told Rest of World.

“Moniepoint has a couple of license categories that allow them to do different things,” Oyedele said. “They have a microfinance bank license which allows them to collect deposits, and a payment terminal service provider license which allows them to issue POS terminals. With these two license categories working hand-in-hand, they can target offline payment businesses or industries. That is where they have built a very impressive distribution network. The offline payment, for context, is the biggest payment opportunity in Nigeria.”

Moniepoint’s business managers — well-known members of local communities who serve as liaisons between the company and its users — are central to its growth, Edidiong Uwemakpan, vice president of communications, told Rest of World.

To build this network, “we studied a number of informal networks in the country … [including] the National Union of Road Transport Workers, churches, and people with branches everywhere,” Uwemakpan said. “How are these people able to collect money from everyone and balance their books? Because at the end of the day, what we were building were human branches across the country.”

The business managers don’t get a salary but receive a sign-up fee of 8,500 naira ($5.44), and monthly commissions on the transactions made through each POS terminal they manage.

“If you work hard and make enough people sign up for POS, you are in business, you are in money,” Fabusoye Tolu, a Moniepoint business manager, told Rest of World. “You earn commissions, and that is even far better than earning a salary because if you earn a salary, it will be capped at a particular figure. With commissions, your earnings do not have a limit.”

Tolu declined to disclose how much he earns from commissions, but said he often targets big businesses that generate high cash flow so that he can earn more at the end of the month.

By Ope Adetayo, rest of world

Related stories: Video - Nigeria caps foreign exchange position for banks

Central bank of Nigeria to replace policymakers as shakeup continues

12 dead, 28 injured in Zaria-Kano expressway auto-crash

Kabir Nadabo, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Kaduna State sector commander, says no fewer than 12 persons died and 28 sustained injuries in a road crash along the Zaria-Kano expressway.

Mr Nadabo told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Kaduna that the fatal road traffic crash occurred at Tashar Yari village at 7:36 a.m. on Monday.

“The trailer with a registration number KTG 454 ZZ was travelling to Kano when the unfortunate incident occurred,” Mr Nadabo said.

He said the cause of the crash was wrongful overtaking, speeding and overloading, which sadly resulted in the high number of fatalities.

Mr Nadabo said the Chairman of Makarfi Local Government and the Unit Commander, Tashar Yari, were on the ground to assess the incident.

He said that an investigation of the incident has revealed that 40 people were involved in the crash, 28 got injured and 12 were deceased.

“The injured were conveyed to the Makarfi General Hospital for further treatment.

“The owner of the vehicle, who is in Azare, Bauchi State has been informed and directed to report to the Kaduna Sector Command, while the driver of the trailer was reportedly among the deceased, “he said.

Mr Nadabo said the accident was avoidable, adding, ” Hence our resolve to continue to reach out to the stakeholders, particularly transport unions.

”This is to preach and sensitize their drivers on the dangers of speeding, overloading, dangerous driving and the use of cellphones while driving, among others.

“The Corps in Kaduna will strive to continue to work hard and liaise with transport Stakeholders and the media in preaching the word of safety.”

Mr Nadabo appealed to motorists to imbibe the culture of safe driving, particularly on the highways.

Premium Times

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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Nigeria building collapse kills six, with others feared trapped

A shopping plaza under construction in Nigeria's southeastern Anambra state collapsed late on Monday, killing at least six people, with others feared trapped in the rubble, the emergency agency said.

The building, with more than 120 shops, collapsed in the city of Onitsha, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said on Tuesday.

"Some of the rescued persons have been taken to different hospitals in Onitsha for treatment," NEMA said.

A search was under way for other survivors, it said.

Building collapses are frequent in Africa's biggest economy and top oil producer due to lax regulations and often substandard construction materials. 

By Ahmed Kingimi, Reuters

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