Shell agrees $84m deal over Niger Delta oil spill


BBC News 

January 7, 2014

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has agreed to a $84m (£55m) settlement with residents of the Bodo community in the Niger Delta for two oil spills.

Lawyers for 15,600 Nigerian fishermen say their clients will receive $3,300 each for losses caused by the spills.

The remaining $30m will be left for the community, which law firm Leigh Day says was “devastated by the two massive oil spills in 2008 and 2009”.

These were among the biggest spills in decades of oil exploration in Nigeria.

Thousands of hectares of mangrove were affected in the southern Ogoniland region.

BBC Nigeria correspondent Will Ross says there are hundreds of oil spills each year in Nigeria, some caused by leaks, others by sabotage, with local people stealing oil.

Martyn DayLawyer representing the Bodo community

The settlement was announced by the Anglo-Dutch oil giant’s Nigerian subsidiary SPDC.

“From the outset, we’ve accepted responsibility for the two deeply regrettable operational spills in Bodo,” its managing director Mutiu Sunmonu said. Shell says that both spills were caused by operational failure of the pipelines.

However, the company maintains that the extent of environmental pollution in the area is caused by “the scourge of oil theft and illegal refining”.

It also suggested that earlier settlement efforts had been hampered “by divisions within the community”.

This particular David v Goliath battle may be over but other suits against the international oil companies will follow.

The law firm that fought on behalf of the Bodo community, Leigh Day, says it made sure everyone had a bank account set up so the $3,300 should hit their accounts soon.

It may be far harder to follow the trail of the roughly $30 million compensation being paid to the community itself.

It is telling just where this money is due to be spent.

Chief Mene Sylvester Kogbara from Bodo says he hopes the money will be used to develop the community, especially education, agriculture and health. “We don’t have a water supply,” he told me.

These are surely things that should have been taken care of by successive governments that have for decades squandered Nigeria’s oil money.

It is a stark reminder of just how badly the people of the Niger Delta and the rest of this oil-rich country have been let down.

‘Absolutely delighted’

The law firm representing the Nigerian fishermen and their community, Leigh Day, described it as one of the largest payouts to an entire community after devastating environmental damage.

“It is the first time that compensation has been paid following an oil spill in Nigeria to the thousands of individuals who have suffered loss,” the firm said in a press release confirming the development.

The deal, which ends a three-year legal battle, is the first of its kind in Nigeria, it added.

Shell says most oil spilt in the region is caused by sabotage and attempts at theft

The law firm said the initial compensation offered to the entire community was as low as $6,000.

Leigh Day also said that Shell had pledged to clean up the Bodo Creek over the next few months.

Lawyer Martyn Day, who represents the claimants, said it was “deeply disappointing that Shell took six years to take this case seriously and to recognise the true extent of the damage these spills caused to the environment and to those who rely on it for their livelihood”.

But he told the BBC that his clients were “absolutely delighted” with the deal that was struck.

“What they feel particularly pleased about is that the individual money is going to them personally. In Nigeria mostly what happens is that chiefs bring claims on behalf of the community, the chiefs then get the compensation and the individuals seem hardly ever to see much of it.

“So I think they’re very pleased that we’ve been able to set up for them individual bank accounts.”

An Amnesty International report into the effects of the oil spills in Bodo, a town in the Ogoniland region, said that the spills had caused headaches and eyesight problems.

The price of fish, a local staple food, rose as much as tenfold and many fishermen had to find alternative ways to make a living, the report added. A separate UN study said local drinking water sources were also contaminated.

The two spills came from the same pipe on the Trans Niger Pipeline, operated by Shell, which takes oil from its fields to the export terminal at Bonny on the coast. It carries about 180,000 barrels of oil per day.


Nigeria: ICT attracts USD 6 Billion in FDI


IT News Africa

December 18, 2014

ICT Minister, Omobola Johnson, has revealed that Nigeria’s ICT sector has attracted more than USD 6 Billion in Foreign Direct Investments over the last three years.

Speaking during the 2014 Ministerial Platform in the country’s second largest city Abuja, Johnson said the Nigerian telecommunications sector is one of the fastest growing in the world. Johnson stated that the improved and enabling environment, created by the present administration, has led many local companies to innovate and add value to the Nigerian economy.

At the 2014 Ministerial Platform Johnson also revealed that the sector now contributes 10.5 percent to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, or about USD 50 billion out of the total GDP of USD 509 billion. This is according to the Daily Independent.

Johnson also commented on the National Broadband Strategy and road map to increase broadband penetration from the present 6 percent to 30 percent by 2018. Johnson stated that the government is committed to achieving 3G/LTE mobile broadband coverage of 80 percent of the population, and providing fixed broadband to 16 percent via fibre by 2018. According to Johnson, this is estimated to create 35,000 jobs for young Nigerian IT entrepreneurs.

Johnson further stated that the Federal Government has additionally set up a Technology Innovation Fund, about $16.2million, which is intended to grow the venture capital industry in Nigeria as well as fill the gap that exists where high risk capital is needed by start-ups and entrepreneurs.

VW Said to Start Assembling Cars in Nigeria With Stallion


Bloomberg News by Christoph Rauwald

December 9, 2014

Volkswagen AG (VOW) plans to start assembling cars in Nigeria as early as next year with Dubai-based conglomerate Stallion Group, according to people familiar with the matter.

The world’s second-largest automaker approved the project for small-scale final assembly because of tax rules that encourage local manufacturing, said the people, who asked not to be named before an official announcement. A spokesman for VW declined to comment. Stallion Group didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.

Assembly in Nigeria would mark Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen’s first production on the continent outside South Africa. VW’s only other African manufacturing facilities comprise a car factory in Uitenhage, outside Port Elizabeth, where it produces the Polo small car, while the MAN commercial-vehicle unit has production locations in Olifantsfontain, near Johannesburg, and Pinetown, outside Durban. VW operates 107 factories globally.

Closely held Stallion has commissioned a vehicle-assembly plant in Lagos and acts as distributor in the country for carmakers including VW, Nissan Motor Co. (7201) and Hyundai Motor Co. (005380), according to its website.

Power: Nigeria Gets $200m Credit Line from Germany


This Day Live by Chineme Okafor

December 4, 2014

Nigeria yesterday got a facility worth $200 million from Germany to develop her small scale renewable energy sector.
The green loan received from the German Development Bank (KFW) would support small and medium enterprises specifically for development of renewable energy sources and other energy efficiency projects.
This was disclosed by the leader of the German delegation; Renate Von Bodden at a Bi-national Commission’s meeting on energy between both countries in Abuja.

Von Bodden equally announced the provision of another facility worth €5 million, which was set aside for technical assistance to Nigeria’s power sector through the same KFW.
She explained that with its endowed capacity, the German agency was willing and able to provide the required experience that would be useful to Nigerians in developing her capacities in renewable energy projects.

While pledging Germany’s continued support to Nigeria’s power sector in various energy related initiatives, Bodden stated that the only social issue in Nigeria that is competing for Germany’s attention with the power sector of Nigeria is polio eradication.
She stressed in a statement from the ministry of power that with the commitment so far exhibited by Nigeria, the country was on track with its plan to provide electricity to the country’s huge population, adding that Germany had been working with Nigeria on a number of energy related projects to conclude that.

The statement however quoted the Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, who was represented by the permanent secretary in the ministry, Godknows Igali to have stated that: “The co-operation between Nigeria and Germany is a good example of how we can mutually work together for the benefit of our people.”

Nebo commended the Germans for the various projects they had undertaken in Nigeria, as well as their support for the Azura project which has reached an advanced stage for fund draw down.
He also noted that Germany had approved the 1 megawatt (MW) renewable electricity project for the University of Ibadan after the last Bi-national meeting in Berlin, adding that will also create opportunities for research for better renewable sources of power against the nuisance created by diesel run generators.

The success of this project, he said would be a template upon which others would be replicated in universities across the country.
The minister also commended the Germans for their intervention in rural development programmes through the provision and access to power for farmers in the rural areas to undertake irrigation activities.

He also said on gas flaring which Germany perhaps expressed worries on, that a comprehensive gas master plan to address such concerns will soon come into effect. He however called the Germans to key-in into this gas plan.

Gov’t lists Stallion Group among Nigeria’s ‘Top 100 Businesses’


The Guardian

December 3, 2014

THE Stallion Group was honoured on Monday by President Dr Goodluck Jonathan as one of the country’s top companies that contribute immensely to the economic development.

The maiden edtion of “Top 100 Business” listing, was a brainchild of the Presidency.

Stallion was ranked within the top 15 companies and was one of the only two high ranked conglomerates along with the Dangote Group and listed amongst the highest ranked companies in Nigeria that included Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron, TotalEni Agip/Saipem and CNOOC Oil. Others included MTN, Zenith Bank and First Bank.

The award presentation ceremony, held in Abuja on Monday, is aimed at encouraging highly performing companies to further contribute to the economy in more significant ways.

Essentially, the award took into account the amount of taxes paid, the employment generated, corporate social responsibility and turnover.

President Jonathan, in his address at the dinner for recipients, said “the companies are the frontiers of our economy and will help the country achieve the Top 10 economy in the world status.”

Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga said: “The top 100 companies account for 20 per cent of Nigeria $510 million Gross Domestic Product (GDP).”

Aganga added that the country adopted similar criteria as Fortune 500 in the US, in selecting the top businesses, which he said, makes it very objective and verifiable, as “we want to make it absolutely clear that it has integrity,”

He expressed pride at the achievement of the selected companies, as it is investors that create jobs, wealth, facilitate economic growth and generate income for the government.

Promoted by multi billionaire Sunil Vaswani, Stallion is a multi business conglomerate with a 45-year history in Nigeria and presence in 18 countries engaged in commodities, industries, automobile assembly,agriculture,mining,steel,plastics,petrochemicals,packaging,IT/automation, real estate, shipping and banking.

Indonesia Formally Pledges to Join China-Sponsored Regional Bank


New York Times by Bree Feng

November 27, 2014

BEIJING — Indonesia has signed an official memorandum of understanding to join a China-backed regional development bank intended to rival organizations like the World Bank and to further Beijing’s aspirations for a leadership role in Asia.

Indonesia’s finance minister, Bambang Brodjonegoro, signed the agreement to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank on Tuesday at the offices of the Ministry of Finance in the capital, Jakarta, the ministry said.

Mr. Brodjonegoro had indicated this month that his country was willing to join the bank at an early date. According to a notice on the website of the Chinese Embassy in Indonesia, Mr. Brodjonegoro said at the signing that Indonesia “attaches great importance” to the establishment of the bank and could not sign earlier because of the country’s change in government, referring to the inauguration of President Joko Widodo last month.

China’s ambassador to Indonesia, Xie Feng, was present at the signing.

Chinese officials have said that the bank is meant to complement, not compete with, existing international institutions like the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank. However, critics have raised questions about the bank’s governance structure and levels of transparency. The United States has quietly lobbied regional allies, including South Korea and Japan, against joining.

Indonesia’s participation brings the total number of founding members to 22, with China holding a majority stake. Among the others are India, Malaysia and the Philippines. The bank’s headquarters is to be in Beijing, and its initial subscribed capital is to be about $50 billion. It is expected to be formally established by the end of next year.

Carlyle Group Buys Diamond Bank Stake for Nigerian Expansion


Bloomberg News by Emele Onu

November 24, 2014

Carlyle (CG) Group LP invested $147 million in Lagos-based Diamond Bank Plc (DIAMONDB)as it seeks to expand in Africa’s largest economy.

Carlyle, the world’s second-largest manager of investment alternatives to stocks and bonds, bought the stake through its sub-Saharan Africa Fund as the Nigerian lender held a rights offer, Diamond Bank said today in an e-mailed statement.

The investment, the first by Carlyle in Africa’s biggest oil producer, will give it a stake of about 18 percent in Diamond Bank if the transaction is approved by regulators, Catherine Armstrong, a spokeswoman for the Washington-based firm, said in an e-mailed response to questions.

The Carlyle fund has invested almost $300 million in sub-Saharan countries including Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 2011, Diamond Bank said. The bank sold shares in August as it sought to raise 50.4 billion naira ($284 million) for investment in infrastructure, branch expansion and lending.

Diamond Bank dropped 0.2 percent to 5.49 naira by the close in Lagos, valuing the lender at 79.5 billion naira. The stock has declined 21 percent this year compared with the 18 percent retreat by the Nigerian Stock Exchange All-Share Index.

Carlyle Group has $203 billion of assets under management, Diamond Bank said. New York-based Blackstone Group LP is the largest alternative-asset manager.