Tanzania, Nigeria’s Dangote reach natural gas supply deal – Reuters

By Fumbuka Ng’wanakilala

DAR ES SALAAM Dec 10 (Reuters) – Tanzania and Nigeria’s Dangote Cement have reached a deal on the supply of natural gas to the firm’s manufacturing plant in the East African country after negotiations stalled over prices, Tanzanian President John Magufuli said on Saturday.

The $500 million cement factory in the southeastern Tanzanian town of Mtwara, set up last year with an annual capacity of 3 million tonnes, runs on expensive diesel generators and has sought government support to reduce costs.

But the negotiations had stalled with the state-run Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) saying the company was seeking “at-the-well prices”.

After meeting Aliko Dangote, the company’s chairman who is Africa’s richest man, Magufuli blamed unspecified middlemen of interfering with supply plans and said the issue has now been resolved with gas supplies to be sold at a “reasonable” tariff.

“They (Dangote Cement) will now buy natural gas directly from the state-run TPDC instead of going through middlemen,” Magufuli told journalists after the meeting.

He did not give details on the new tariff.

Dangote, Africa’s biggest cement producer, has an annual production capacity of 43.6 million tonnes and targets output of between 74 million and 77 million tonnes by the end of 2019 and 100 million tonnes of capacity by 2020.

The company plans to roll out plants across Africa. In Tanzania, Dangote is seeking to double the country’s annual output of cement to 6 million tonnes.

The country announced in February that it had discovered an additional 2.17 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of possible natural gas deposits in an onshore field, raising its total estimated recoverable natural gas reserves to more than 57 tcf.

(Reporting by Fumbuka Ng’wanakilala; Editing by Aaron Maasho and David Evans)


No plans to exit Nigeria – RwandAir – NAN

RwandAir on Saturday said it had no plans to exit the Nigerian market in spite of the economic recession in the country.

The airline’s Country Manager, Ms. Ibiyemi Odusi, gave the assurance while briefing newsmen in Lagos.

Odusi said that Nigeria was an important part of the airline’s operations and would remain so in the foreseeable future.

He said, “We don’t have any plan to withdraw from the Nigerian market as alleged by a recent publication in the media.

“We are committed to serving this market and are weathering the storm because we believe that the economy of Nigeria will soon be revamped.”

She said that the airline recently deployed two A330 aircraft to serve the Nigerian route as a sign of confidence in the market.

She said, “The Nigerian market is very important to RwandAir.

“It is our cash cow and we think it is only proper for us to put the best of our equipment on this route for the safety and comfort of our passengers.”

She said the airline which currently operates daily flights from Lagos to 20 destinations in Africa and Middle East, was planning to add seven new routes in 2017.

She said, “We have our airline partners that we are working with and we are looking at more alliances in the future with international and domestic airlines.

“Our plan is to expand our share of the market and maintain safety, on-time performance and excellent customer services to our clients.”

She said as part of the yuletide celebrations, RwandAir was offering 30 per cent discount on all flight ticket and urged intending travellers to grab the offer.

Nigeria pension funds look to small businesses for growth – Reuters

By Chijioke Ohuocha

LAGOS Dec 9 (Reuters) – Nigeria’s pension regulator hopes to launch a savings scheme for the country’s widespread small business sector as it seeks ways of persuading a majority of the country’s workforce to put aside funds for their retirement. 

Traditionally driven by oil money and with large segments of the workforce unregistered for tax purposes, Nigeria’s economy has gone into reverse during a slump in crude prices that began in 2014, forcing the government to seek new ways of raising revenue.

The National Pension Commission had three years ago expected assets in the pension industry to triple by 2016 to $70 billion, as more people in the small business sector signed up to schemes. But that prediction has failed to materialise.

The commission has said it wants to launch the savings scheme next year, targeting the about 50 million Nigerians employed in small businesses of at least four employees, covering everything from barbers’ shops to accountancy firms.

The government is also looking to increase what is a vanishingly small tax take from the same sector.

The National Bureau of Statistics said in June that the sector accounted for more than 40 percent of the economy, which is now mired in its deepest recession in 25 years.

“Micro-pensions is our best bet to push the numbers higher because we are looking at 70 percent of the workforce (active in that segment),” Umaru Farouk Aminu, head of research at the commission, told Reuters.

But analysts and fund managers fear the recession coupled with a currency crisis could dampen the pensions uptake.

The crisis has caused many businesses struggling to find the hard currency needed to import raw materials to shut down, laying off workers.

Pension fund assets grew by 30 percent last year, but Dave Uduanu, who manages 220 billion naira for Pension Alliance Limited, said in October he expected that rise to slow to below 18 percent this year as funds become more conservative.

Funds have been buying bonds this year and selling equities despite cheap valuations as illiquid currency markets limit foreign participation in the stock market.

The Lagos stock index is down 10 percent in naira terms this year. By contrast short-term Nigerian treasury bills provide an 18 percent yield.