• The FG has approved negotiations for a $15 billion loan for the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail project. Transportation minister, Rotimi Amaechi said President Buhari had also given approval for the negotiations of funds for the execution of Lagos-Calabar rail project. “Don’t forget that the Lagos-Calabar project is yet to start because of funds; the Port Harcourt – Maiduguri is yet to start because of funds, but the president has approved that we negotiate for funds,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “We are almost concluding negotiations for the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri. We are looking at the cost – is in the neighbourhood of between $14 billion and $15 billion,” he added. He said the laying of tracks on the Lagos-Ibadan route would commence next month and be “hopefully” completed by December.
  • African leaders agreed on Wednesday to form a $3 trillion continental free-trade zone encompassing 1.2 billion people, but its two biggest economies, Nigeria and South Africa, did not sign up, diminishing its impact. The African Union started talks in 2015 to establish a 55-nation bloc that would be the biggest in the world by member states, in a bid to increase intra-regional trade, which sits at a measly 15 percent of Africa’s total commerce. Rwandan president Paul Kagame, the host of an AU summit called to conclude the initial negotiations, declared the meeting a success after 44 African nations signed up to establish the free trade bloc within 18 months. Nigeria is said to still be doing national level consultations but South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa said he would sign once necessary legal processes were done.
  • The National Assembly says it will pass the 2018 Appropriation Bill into law on 24 April, Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of the House of Representatives announced during plenary on Wednesday. He said both the Senate and the House have agreed that the budget will be presented on 19 April and passed almost a week later. President Buhari had on Monday given ministries, department and agencies till Friday to submit details of their budget estimate to lawmakers. The directive came five days after the president had hosted senior legislative leaders at the Presidential Villa. The 2018 spending plan is estimated at ₦8.6 trillion.
  • The FAAN has automated the collection of passenger service charge at all local airports. In a statement released on Wednesday, the authority said passengers will no longer need to collect stickers when embarking on local travel. “This is in line with the directive by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council that check-in procedures at the airports be streamlined to improve the facilitation of passengers,” the statement read. “With this development, the use of the passenger service charge sticker at the departure gate was discontinued with effect from Monday 19th March 2018. Henceforth, departing passengers who have checked-in prior to arrival at the airport can proceed directly to the boarding gates.” In 2017, Saleh Dunoma, FAAN managing director, said the authority generated ₦38 billion from passenger service charge in 2017.
  • A total of 78,280 tonnes of cocoa was tendered against the ICE March London cocoa contract, Reuters quotes exchange data. The delivery against the March London contract, which expired on 14 March, was primarily made up of 46,130 tonnes of cocoa from Cameroon and 18,080 tonnes from Ivory Coast. Smaller volumes of cocoa from other origins, including Ecuador, Nigeria and Togo, were also tendered against the contract. Buyers and sellers included BNP Paribas Commodity Futures (25,030 tonnes), Societe Generale International (32,460 tonnes) and JP Morgan Securities (29,650 tonnes). The spot futures contract became increasingly attractive ahead of expiry, as a scarcity of quality West African beans in Europe dramatically widened differentials on the physical market.
  • Swift Networks, a network broadband service provider, on Monday launched a WiFi service that would be free for all users. Speaking at the launch, CEO Charles Anudu said the service is currently available in Lagos and will target two million daily users. The service, known as Red Cheetah, will give users a daily data limit of one gigabyte on the app. “You can download the Red Cheetah app from your Google Play Store on Android or go through www.redcheetah.net and you will be able to use the service,” he said. The company hopes to have 10,000 hotspots in Lagos when fully deployed. It has set up 500 spots, including 250 BRT buses. Users will be required to view ads from sponsors and partners who make the service free. The service is already available in locations like MMA-2, Hard Rock Café, Festival Mall and Eko Hospital.