• Nigeria’s corn output for the 2017-18 season will probably decline by as much as 750,000 metric tons due to the impact of pests and increased imports, the producers’ association said. It is estimated that the country will produce 10 million tons of corn in the current season, 7 percent less than 10.75 million tons in the 2016-17 season, Tunji Adenola, president of the Maize Association of Nigeria told Bloomberg. “Apart from imports, which is the major challenge to corn production in Nigeria, the two-year-old army-worm attacks ravaging farms has discouraged farmers from producing,” Adenola said. Those unable to compete with imported corn, which is cheaper, are being compelled to switch to other crops, he added. Nigeria is Africa’s biggest corn producer after South Africa, whose 2017-18 output is estimated at 12 million tons, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Corn imports jumped 33 percent in the 2016-17 season to reach 400,000 tons, USDA figures show.
  • The Zinox Group has concluded the acquisition of e-commerce giant Konga in a move that is expected to alter the e-commerce landscape in Nigeria. Thisday quotes an industry source as saying that the transaction had been approved by the SEC. The move marks a bold return for Zinox to an industry it pioneered in Nigeria with the launch of BuyRight Africa.com which was challenged by the country’s lack of an e-payment infrastructure when it was launched 12 years ago. While some industry observers say the acquisition could lead to the integration of Konga and Yudala, which is owned by Zinox founder, Leo Stan Ekeh’s son, to wade off competition and make it one of biggest e-commerce operations on the continent, Techpoint reports that a source at Zinox says both companies will not be combined.
  • Indian refineries booked the largest amount of West African oil to load per day in February since April 2015, helping to shore up a decline in Chinese buying, a Reuters survey of vessel fixtures and traders showed on Friday. Indian refiners Reliance and Essar joined state-run Indian Oil Corp in booking ships to ferry West Africa oil east, running the total up to 780,000 barrels per day – close to a three-year high on a bpd basis. Essar bought a cargo of Dalia from Angola’s Sonangol, while Reliance booked several ships to load Nigerian, Angolan and Congolese crude, the fixtures showed. The purchases helped to offset a steep drop in bpd-loadings for China, which fell to 1.22 million bpd from a record of 1.59 million bpd the previous month. While China is still a key outlet, particularly for Angolan oil, its buyers have a wide range of options, and turning away even slightly makes more of it available to others. Total loading of West African oil to Asia slid to 2.17 million bpd as a result of the slowdown from China, down from a record 2.39 million bpd in January.
  • The NCC says it will announce and begin the implementation of a new interconnect rate for telecommunications companies on 1 March. The commission said this was necessary because the 2013 interconnect rate expired in 2016 and the industry had been using an interim interconnect rate of ₦24.40 kobo per minute for inbound international traffic. Interconnect rate is the benchmark rate operator A pays operator B for calls made from network A to network B. The rate is important because it determines how much an operator can charge subscribers for making calls to other networks although operators have different plans to attract customers. Sunday Dare, NCC executive commissioner said the new rate has been presented to telcos and it was left to operators to accept the rate or make added inputs. There have been four interconnect rate determination regimes; 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2013.
  • Phillips Oduoza, a former UBA group managing director, has launched Nova Merchant Bank with a focus on investments, loans, asset management, mergers, acquisition and advisory services to its customers. Nova, Nigeria’s fifth merchant bank, officially began operations on 1 February at its Lagos headquarters. “Banking is changing globally with the emergence of new entrants and the infusion of non-traditional business models leveraging advances in technology,” said Oduoza, who is an independent director at the Development Bank of Nigeria. “We believe Nigeria should not be left behind. Therefore, NOVA is here to bring a new experience in the banking industry. That was why we selected the name, NOVA, which means new. We want to do new things,” he added.