Nigeria’s oil exports will record a 50 percent decline by the end of 2020 due to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the economy, Fitch Ratings, world’s leading risk analysts, has said. According to the Director, Fixed Sovereign Team, Fitch Ratings, Mahmoud Harb, in a webinar on Sovereign Risk in Nigeria, the country’s oil revenue will, consequently, fall by the same magnitude at the end of the year. The Nigerian government had in 2019 earned N5.54 trillion from oil export. The expected fall in oil export would result in the country’s current account balance remaining in deficit for three consecutive years in 2019 to 2021, Herb said, adding that the COVID-19 shock has aggravated the on-going pressures on external liquidity in Nigeria. These on-going pressures stem, first, from a shift of the long-standing current account surplus to deficit in 2019 and increased reliance on portfolio inflows under the Central Bank of Nigeria strategy of stabilising the nominal exchange rate. It is expected that the drop in oil revenue will lead the FG to record a deficit of six percent of GDP in 2020 and 5.4 percent of GDP in 2021. In addition to the financing needs from the budget deficit, Nigeria faces around 0.3 percent of GDP in maturities coming due on external debts per year in 2020 and 2021, Fitch Ratings analysts said. To cover the funding gaps, Harb said, the FG plans to borrow, around 1.4 percent of GDP from multilateral donors, which will cover around 20 percent of the federal government’s deficit in 2020 on the average forecast, but additional multilateral loans remain possible. The measures the FG has put in place to minimise the shock from COVID-19 and drop in oil price, including the limited adjustment of the exchange rate, tightened foreign currency supply and continued interventions to defend the exchange rate, would only contain short term liquidity pressures and would boost foreign exchange reserves in the short term, he noted.

Nigeria’s refineries recorded total revenue of ‎₦3.45 billion in 2018 but expended ‎₦160.13 billion on salary and other things, the audited financial statements of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has shown. The corporation also made a profit of ‎₦1.02 trillion from its investment within the year. The public disclosure of the accounts is a departure from the recent past as the performance of the corporation had remained opaque. Payment of salaries, wages and allowances to workers at the ailing refineries accounted for about 33.49 percent of the total expenses. The refineries, located in Port Harcourt, Kaduna and Warri, have a combined installed capacity of 445,000 barrels per day but have continued to operate far below the installed capacity. The breakdown of the report showed that Kaduna Refinery and Petrochemical Company Limited did not generate any revenue in the year under review but it incurred a total cost of ‎₦64.68 billion, comprising ‎₦24.69 billion direct cost and ₦39.99 billion administrative expenses. The companies, which are subsidiaries of the NNPC, earn revenue in the form of processing fees charged on crude oil processing for the corporation. Salaries, wages and other fringe benefits gulped ‎₦13.85 billion. Port Harcourt Refining Company Limited, which earned ‎₦1.46 billion in 2018, said its processing and administrative expenses were ‎₦24.04 billion and ‎₦24.03 billion respectively, amounting to N48.07 billion. The company spent N9.23 billion on salaries and allowances plus bonus, in addition to N9.56 billion paid to workers as direct labour. The Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company Limited generated ‎₦1.99 billion in revenue but said its cost of sales and operating expenses were ‎₦12.74 billion and ₦34.64 billion respectively, amounting to ‎₦47.38 billion. A total of ₦20.99 billion was paid to its workers as salaries, wages and allowances in 2018, the report said. The Group Managing Director, NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, had last week said the failure to fix the country’s refineries over the years was a strategy problem. Kyari, who took over the NNPC leadership in July 2019, had reiterated his plan to revamp the refineries and end fuel importation by 2023.

Orange, the largest telecommunications operator in France has expressed plans to expand its operations to Nigeria and South Africa in a few months. The CEO, Stéphane Richard told Les Echos newspaper that the company believes it would benefit from having a wider footprint in Africa and will give itself a few months to make a possible move. He, however, declined to comment on possible interest in MTN Group Ltd, the largest telecommunications company in South Africa and Nigeria. Orange’s fastest-growing market is in the Middle East and Africa where it has a presence in 18 countries. The telco had earlier announced that it would merge its operations in the Middle East and Africa into a single entity, to make way for a potential listing and raise money for expansion to other countries. With 266 million customers worldwide, Orange has 89,000 employees in France and 59,000 employees in other parts of the world where its operations are situated. It is also the tenth-largest mobile network operator in the world and the fourth largest in Europe after Vodafone, Telefónica, and Veon.

Uganda has scheduled its presidential election between 10 January and 8 February 2021. Announcing this Tuesday, the authority outlined some restriction measures aimed at slowing the spread of the new coronavirus pandemic in the country. The election commission chairman, Simon Byabakama Mugenyi, said the commission had banned campaign rallies and urged candidates to use the media instead to get their messages to voters. Opposition parties have previously complained about restricted access to broadcast media, especially in rural areas where they say security agencies bar them from appearing on political shows. The commission said it will set the exact date of the election, also for parliament and local governments, later this year. The strongest opposition presidential aspirant, pop star and lawmaker Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, on Monday announced an alliance with veteran opposition leader Kizza Besigye, who has challenged Museveni for the presidency three times. But the substance of the agreement was unclear, including whether the two opposition parties would field joint candidates. In power since 1986, former rebel fighter Museveni has not confirmed whether he would run again, but the ruling National Resistance Movement party has already asked him to stand. the public broadcaster Uganda Broadcasting Corporation refused to air Besigye’s advertisements during the 2011 presidential campaign despite being paid for the airtime. Besigye later sued the public broadcaster for bias and won $21,000 in damages in 2018. Uganda’s health ministry has reported 823 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and no deaths. It began easing a 45-day lockdown, one of the strictest on the continent, in mid-May. Incumbent President Yoweri Museveni had said it would have been “madness” to hold the elections if the coronavirus persisted.