Business News in Brief

Ecobank to Focus on Existing Markets Using Phones

Africa’s Ecobank plans to prioritise expanding the customer base in its existing markets by tapping into Africa’s growing use of mobile phones, rather than pushing into new countries, its chief executive said on Thursday.

The Togo-based pan-African bank operates in 36 African countries, but a slump in commodity prices in recent years and unfavourable currency swings have prompted it to shift its focus to the booming retail market, where latent demand is being unleashed by mobile technology.

Parliament wants Regulatory Authorities to Investigate Viability of Bitcoin

The Senate on Tuesday urged Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other stakeholders to make proper investigations into Bitcoin.

They also asked for deliberate efforts to educate the public on the dangers of Bitcoin as a store of value in Nigeria.

It said that all news platforms and in various languages should be deployed in the dissemination.

The upper chamber also called on National Orientation Agency (NOA) to spread the news against all forms of wonder banks and Ponzi schemes operating in Nigeria.

World Bank: Support to Nigeria, Others Hit $14b

The World Bank Nigeria Country Director, Mr Rachid Benmessaoud, says that the Bank’s support to fragile states, including Nigeria has hit 14 billion dollars.

The support which came through the International Development Association (IDA) arm of the bank, double in the last one year says the Bank’s country representattive.

Benmessaoud said this on Tuesday in Abuja at a conference with the theme, “Ideas forAction Africa’ being hosted by the bank, in conjunction with the African University of Science and Technology and the University of Lagos.

CBN Injects $210m to Boost FX Market

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has injected 210 million dollars to boost the inter-bank foreign exchange market and to meet customers’ requests in various segments of the market.

The Bank’s acting Director, Corporate Communications, Mr Isaac Okorafor, in a statement on Monday in Abuja said the fund would ensure that legitimate demands for foreign exchange were met.

He said that the CBN offered 100 million dollars to authorised dealers in the wholesale segment of the market, while the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) segment got 55 million dollars.

2018: Customs Target ₦1.3tr Revenue not ₦1.5tr

The Public Relations Officer of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Mr Joseph Attah, said that the service had set N1.3 trillion revenue target for 2018.

Attah told the News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Abuja that the Service recorded its highest revenue collection ever of over N1 trillion as against N770 billion targeted in 2017.

He said that this was contrary to the speculation in the media that the Service had fixed N1.5 trillion target for 2018.

Facebook to Open Digital Training Hubs in Europe

Facebook said on Monday it will open three new centres in Europe to train people in digital skills and committed to training one million people over the next two years, part of the social media giant’s drive to show its contribution to the bloc.

The U.S. company - which has faced regulatory pressure in Europe over issues ranging from privacy to antitrust - said it would open three “community skills hubs” in Spain, Poland and Italy as well as investing 10 million euros ($12.2 million) in France through its artificial intelligence research facility.

Lesotho finds $40m Diamond, World’s Fifth Biggest

A diamond thought to be the fifth largest of gem quality ever found has been discovered in Lesotho, miner Gem Diamonds said Monday, and could be worth as much as $40 million.

The company unearthed the D-colour stone at the Letseng mine in the landlocked southern African country and described the 910-carat find as of “exceptional quality”.

“Since Gem Diamonds acquired Letseng in 2006, the mine has produced some of the world’s most remarkable diamonds, including the 603 carat Lesotho Promise,” Gem Diamonds chief executive Clifford Elphick said in a statement.

China makes $832b from Tourism in 2017

China  generated 5.4 trillion yuan, about 832 billion U.S. dollars from tourism last year, according to Li Jinzao, head of the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA).

Li gave the figure at a tourism conference in Xiamen in east China’s Fujian Province Monday. It covered spending by local and foreign tourists.

On average, every Chinese person made 3.7 trips last year, Li said.

Union Bank Raises ₦50b via Share Sale

Nigeria’s Union Bank has raised 49.7 billion naira ($163 mln) through a rights issued which it said was 120 percent subscribed, Reuters reports.

The mid-sized lender launched the share sale last September at a ratio of five new shares for every seven held at 4.10 naira each.

Union Bank, set up 100-years ago, had said it planned to spend 80 percent of the funds to enhance its regulatory capital and boost working capital.

Fitch: T-Bill Supply Slowdown May Hurt Nigerian Bank Profits

Nigerian banks may find it more difficult to sustain profitability given the decline in net treasury bill (T-bill) issuance in Nigeria's 1Q18 issuance programme, Fitch Ratings says.

The slowdown in T-bill issuance marks a change of strategy as the government looks to increase its financing from external sources and longer-dated domestic issuances, Reuters reports. Record T-bill issuance in 2017 helped support the Central Bank of Nigeria's strategy to maintain naira exchange-rate stability.