Dangote Cement said on Wednesday it planned to start exports from its Congo Republic plants to neighbouring states after its Nigerian exports fell 41% in 2019 when Nigeria’s government closed its borders. Nigeria shut its land border in August to curb the smuggling of rice to neighbouring states where it sells for more and an illegal arms trade. The closure has also hurt other Nigerian businesses, including cement exports, and stoked inflation. Joseph Makoju, Dangote’s outgoing chief executive, said the border closure led exports to drop to 0.5 million tonnes in 2019 from 0.7 million tonnes in both 2018 and 2017. He said the company had exported to West and Central Africa from Nigeria. Makoju said total production volumes last year were flat at 14.1 million tonnes. Higher discounts, marketing and haulage cost caused core profit to fall 9.1%, while margins slid 59.2%, he said. In February, Dangote Cement appointed ex-head of Lafarge Africa Michel Puchercos as its new chief executive. The company said it planned to commence a share buy-back programme this year once it obtained regulatory approval and said it was actively considering a London listing with its long-delayed London IPO still “under review”.

Nigeria’s government has licensed two gold refineries to produce the metal for export and for the central bank to hold in its reserves, the mines minister said on Wednesday. Minister of Mines and Steel Development Olamilekan Adegbite told reporters in the capital, Abuja, that licences had been issued and the central bank would be the main off-taker, holding some of the gold in its reserves. “We have licensed two refineries in Nigeria. They will refine gold and of course produce bullion that the CBN [Central Bank of Nigeria] can buy at international prices,” he said. He said one of the refineries was in Abuja, which is in the centre of the country, and the other is in the southwestern state of Ogun. The announcement is part of a pattern in Africa where until 2012 there were only a handful of gold refineries, but as many as 26 are now either operating or under construction across 14 countries to process metal produced by informal diggers, according to a Reuters survey of public reports. The country’s first gold refining license was issued in 2018 to local firm Kian Smith Trade & Co and the company has said it expects to begin operations in 2020, having failed to start last year. Earlier this month, Adegbite said Nigeria expects its mining sector to grow to 3% of GDP within the next five years from just 0.3% currently

Data from the Accountant-General of the Federation have shown that the Nigerian government spent a total sum of ₦2.1 trillion to service the country’s debt obligations to local and foreign debtors between January and December 2019. The amount is ₦64.06 billion or 2.99% less than the ₦2.14 trillion approved in the 2019 Federal Government budget. About ₦1.66 trillion from the amount was spent servicing domestic debt while foreign debt obligations took the balance of ₦448.66 billion. Analysis of the figure; ₦2.11tn debt service payment, showed that about ₦290.21 billion was spent in January, while Febbillion March, April, and May had ₦187.76 billion, ₦231.36 billion, N118.56 billion and ₦84.07 billion respectively. The FG spent ₦90.3 billion in June and ₦236.91 billion in July. The amount spent on debt service obligations in August, September, October, November, and December were ₦207.03 billion, ₦276.1 billion, ₦220.54 billion, ₦110.06 billion, ₦56.75 billion respectively. For the N1.66 trillion spent on servicing domestic debt, the financial statement showed that about ₦267.87 billion was spent in January while the sum of ₦155.42 billion was incurred on debt service obligation in February, while March had N196.99 billion, April ₦84.19 billion and May ₦49.71 billion. The FG spent ₦55.93 billion to service domestic debt in June while July, August, September, October, November, and December had ₦202.54 billion, ₦172.66 billion, ₦231.67 billion, ₦176.1 billion, ₦65.62 billion and ₦12.31 billion respectively. The breakdown showed that on the foreign debt servicing; ₦448.66 billion spent by the FG was incurred thus: January ₦32.34 billion, February ₦32.34 billion, March ₦32.36 billion, April ₦34.36 billion, May N34.36 billion and June N34.36 billion. The sum of ₦34.36 billion was spent by FG on debt servicing in July while August, September, October, November, and December had ₦34.36 billion, ₦44.44 billion, ₦44.44 billion, November ₦44.44 billion and December ₦44.44 billion respectively.

The first case of coronavirus was confirmed in Nigeria on Thursday, the country’s health minister announced — marking the first confirmed case in sub-Saharan Africa. Health Minister, Osagie Ehanire, said the case is an Italian citizen who works in Nigeria and returned to Lagos on Tuesday from Milan. He said the patient is being treated at an infectious disease hospital in Yaba. On its part, the Lagos State Government said it had activated the State Emergency Operations Centre to respond to the case and implement firm control measures.