8 BUSINESS DAY C002D5556 NEWS Need to reduce investment risk in Africa dominates 7th Gennext business conference DIPO OLADEHINDE In a friendly yet exciting discussion, leading business professionals, presidents of industries, directors, CEOs, and lawyers from across the globe, especially Asia, discussed the need to reduce investment risk in Africa as well as tap into the huge opportunities in its diversity at the 7th Gennext Business Conference on the “Ease of Doing Business in Africa” at Mumbai, India. At the conference, there w ere as many as 25 concurrent panels and plenaries over the course of the two days led by national and international speakers of renowned influential status. The African session panel at this year’s event was moderated by Osaro Eghobamien, a managing Partner at Nigeria based commercial law firm Perchstone & Graeys; other members of the panel session includes, R. Kannan of Hinduja Group; Emeka Offor, Director of Strategic Communication at Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission and Bukola Oyinlola-Anuwe the Head of Chambers at Perchstone & Graeys Abuja. The panel discussed not only the need to adopt strategies that would embrace the diversity of the 54 African Moody’s to review Nigeria economy at 4th annual summit ENDURANCE OKAFOR The credit rating agency, Moody’s will examine Nigeria’s economic performance in the forth coming Annual West Africa Summit tagged “Moody’s Emerging Markets Series. The US-based agency will be having its fourth Annual West Africa Summit in Lagos on May 9, 2018. BudgIT demands transparency for N1.4trn fuel subsidy HOPE MOSES-ASHIKE BudgIT has expressed dismay at the lack of accountability and transparency by the Federal Government and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on the amount spent on subsidy in 2016, 2017, and the first quarter of 2018. In a statement signed by Abiola Afolabi, communications lead, it is in the interest of the public that detailed information of the amount spent on fuel subsidies such as the beneficiaries, the pricing template for arriving at the subsidy rates and the volume of petroleum products utilised should be made open and that these transactions are carried out transparently. Minister of state for petroleum resources, Ibe Kachikwu, recently disclosed a total of N1.4 trillion was being spent annually by the countries but also on the different risk in each of these countries and how to further reduce risk as well so as to tap into the huge opportunities in Africa where return on investment is hovering at 9 percent while other emerging markets at 8.5 percent and the rest of the world 7 percent. Osaro Eghobamien, a managing Partner at Perchstone & Graeys law firm stated the failure of Nigeria to participate in the signing of the Continental Free Trade Agreement which obviously created an awkward position maintaining that Nigeria simply suspended the signing for more informed consultation domestically. Eghobamien said, “As a Lawyer, and if I had the opportunity I would have advised the President to sign the treaty whilst there are wider consultation before such treaty is domesticated. It is important that a certain level of certainty be introduced into the African market.” “Nigeria having participated in negotiations for a number of years ought to have reinforced that participation by at least signing without any further commitments domestically, treaties are not enforceable until domesticated,” Eghobamien added. Analyst from Moody’s will be in attendance to share insight into the credit implications of Nigeria’s gradual economic recovery and the rebound in oil prices. Africa’s largest economy exited its five-quarter recession in Q2 2017 following the increase in global oil prices and level production. Oil prices have however enjoyed a renaissance in 2017, after output curbs by NNPC as the subsidy for Premium Motor Spirit (PMS). This amount is significantly more than what Nigeria intends to spend on Education in the proposed 2018 budget (N605.8bn). There is a growing deficit in trust due to lack of due process in the NNPC; in March 2018, the corporation announced it spends N774 million daily, roughly N23.99 billion monthly as subsidy on 50 million litres of PMS consumed across the country. The public knows very little information on the beneficiaries of the subsidy payments and control process instituted to prevent theft of these funds. BudgIT notes that the subsidy payments have been a contentious issue for the last 30 years. Analysts have called for its cancellation due to the lack of accountability and transparency in the administration of these funds. Friday 13April2018 R-L: R. Kannan of Hinduja Group, a multibillion company; Emeka Offor of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission; Bukola Oyinlola -Anuwe, head of Chambers (Abuja office), Perchstone & Graeys, and Osaro Eghobamien, managing partner at Perchstone & Graeys. Rural people gain as NCF partners UNOPS, GEF-SGP on communities’ forest CHUKA UROKO The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), together with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and Global Environment Facility, Small Grant Programme (GEF- SGP), has boosted sustainable livelihoods of rural people by helping their communities’ forest achieve reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) goals. By this action, NCF and its supporters are re-defining forest management, conser- members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia rid the market of some 1.5 million barrels daily. Global benchmark, Brent crude has gained some 155 percent since hitting a decade-low of $28 per barrel in January 2016, trading at $71.92 per barrel as of Wednesday, April 11 2018, according to Bloomberg data. Also, there are arguments that the subsidy regime constituted double taxation on the populace who pay the actual market price for PMS due to lack of adequate monitoring by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR). According to our Lead Partner, Oluseun Onigbinde, “Evidence shows that amount spent on subsidising PMS is always riddled with corruption. We noted this is 2011 prior to the elections and we are worried this opacity is preceding the 2019 elections again. We are worried at the use of public resources without legislative appropriation or requisite transparency ” BudgIT understands that NNPC in recent times has initiated a couple of actions in trying to meet up with the global of standards of transparency and accountability including actions like publishing its monthly report on its financial and operational activities. vation of landscape and rural livelihoods in selected forestedge communities including Ebok, Kabakken and Ebranta in Boje, Boki Local Government Area of Cross River State. The foundation in a statement explained that community forest contributed to the sustainable livelihoods of millions of rural people living in developing nations, adding that community involvement had the potential to improve effectiveness, efficiency and provide more co-benefits from REDD+ project. In 2017, NCF, with the support of GEF-SGP set up the community-based REDD+ programme (CBR+) to promote activities that boost poverty eradication, promotion of improved crop varieties and yields, gender empowerment, biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation and adaptation. Through this funding, Ebok, Kabakken and Ebranta communities cultivated two acres of land respectively with improved cassava stem cuttings, set-up cassava processing mills, cultivation and domestication of Afang (Gnetum africanum) by community members and harvesting of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) such as bush mango (Irvingia gabonensis) as part of efforts to reduce forest loss through improved agricultural practices. Proceeds of the harvest were shared among women and youth in the communities to supplement their income. In addition to the cassava, vegetable and NTFPs cultivation, the three communities commenced the cultivation of cocoyam on two acres each using improved farming methods and multiplication of planting materials (mini-set technology).