The Debt Management Office said Nigeria’s debt to the World Bank increased from $8.51 billion or about ₦3.085 trillion as of September 2018 to $9.81 billion (over ₦3.556 trillion) as at September 2019, a rise of 15.3% in 12 months. The loan facilities were granted to Nigeria by the two arms of the World Bank Group: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA). The report showed that the IDA had offered credit totalling $9.41 billion (₦471.250 billion) to the West African country as of the end of September 2019 relative to the sum of $8.39 billion loan it had granted the country in the corresponding period of 2018. The IBRD’s total exposure to Nigeria as of 30th September 2018 stood at $124 million compared to the $409.51 it had granted to the country as of 30th September 2019. The DMO’s Director-General, Patience Oniha, had said that the country’s public debt as of Q3’19 stood at ₦26.215 trillion, up from the ₦25.70 trillion posted in the corresponding period of 2018. Nigeria’s debt to GDP ratio at the end of the period stood at 18.47 percent. Meanwhile, the DMO said about ₦1.59 trillion would be sourced by the government this year as new domestic borrowings.
A Nigerian court on Thursday issued an arrest warrant for former oil minister Dan Etete and two others in relation to a $1.3 billion oil deal scandal. Economic and Financial Crimes Commission lawyer Balance Sanga said the arrest warrant was a precursor for declaring Etete wanted before the country sought Interpol help in apprehending him. Lawyers representing Etete in Italy did not immediately respond to request for comment. The circumstances surrounding the award of the oilfield, OPL 245, is one of the oil industry’s biggest corruption scandals. It is the subject of an ongoing court case in Italy that has also ensnared figures from two of the sector’s biggest players, Shell and Eni. Earlier this year, Nigeria successfully sought the extradition of former attorney general Mohammed Adoke from Dubai for allegedly receiving bribes to facilitate the deal.
The Nigerian government has told people to avoid travel to China for at least two weeks because of a spreading coronavirus outbreak and instructed those returning from China to self-quarantine for the same length of time. Health Minister Osagie Ehanire also said those showing symptoms of the virus would be taken into mandatory quarantine in hospital. The virus, with its epicentre in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has killed 170 people in China and rattled global markets, with cases reported in at least 16 countries. There have been no confirmed cases of the virus in Africa, though Sudanese officials reported two suspected cases. Nigerian officials have directed airlines to report any sick passengers before planes land. The two major airports, in Lagos and the capital of Abuja, are already using temperature monitors to screen passengers. Nigeria imports more from China than its other top two import sources combined, and in the second quarter of last year, Chinese goods accounted for a quarter of all imports, according to Stears Business.
Nigeria’s fintech sector attracted $122 million in funds in 2019, according to the 2019 African Tech Startups Funding Report. 311 African tech startups secured $491.6 million in investments last year, with Nigeria accounted for 24.8 percent. Kenya and Nigeria emerged as the premier investment destinations on the continent in 2019, attracting US$149 million and US$122 million in funding respectively, the report showed. Egypt also had significant representation as the country continued its development into a major continental tech hub, with more startups from the North African country securing investment than anywhere else. South Africa’s growth slowed, according to the report. Among others, Interswitch and Visa, in November announced a strategic partnership that further advances the digital payments ecosystem across Africa. Visa, as part of the agreement, will acquire a significant minority equity stake in Interswitch at a total company valuation of $1 billion. Visa is reported to be paying $200 million, valuing Interswitch at about $1 billion (₦360 billion)