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Standard Chartered Bank arranges a US$ 1.46 billion financing to fund the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) Project

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The Government of Tanzania Ministry of Finance has signed a facility agreement with Standard Chartered (SC.com) Tanzania for a US$ 1.46 billion term loan financing to fund the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project from Dar es Salaam to Makutupora.

Running approximately 550 kilometres long, the SGR project is one of the country’s biggest projects connecting Dodoma to Dar es Salaam via Morogoro and Makutupora. Once complete, the SGR Rail project will provide a safe and reliable means for efficiently transporting people and cargo to and from the existing Dar es Salaam Port.

According to the Tanzania Railways Corporation, it is expected that the railway will address current congestion challenges and decrease freight service charges by 40%, as the railway will be able to haul up to 10,000 tons of freight, equivalent to 500 lorries, per trip. It will also connect Tanzania to Burundi, Rwanda and The Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, thereby playing a key role in enhancing regional trade.

The project has already created more than 8,000 new direct employment opportunities for Tanzanians and has opened up opportunities for the local communities surrounding the project area to access social services such as shelter and food.

Standard Chartered Tanzania acted as Global Co-ordinator, Bookrunner and Mandated Lead Arranger on the facility agreement that is the largest foreign currency financing raised by the Ministry of Finance to date. The biggest component of financing comes from the Export Credit Agency Covered Facility(‘s) from the Export Credit Agencies of Denmark and Sweden.

Speaking at the event to sign off the deal, the Minister of Finance and Planning, Hon. Dr. Philip Mpango, commended and thanked Standard Chartered Tanzania.

“I am very delighted to sign off on this deal on behalf of the Government of Tanzania and its people. With the help of Standard Chartered and our partners, the project financing will further increase direct employment in Tanzania, and more importantly, enable our local communities the thrive as they will be able to gain access to wider social services such as food and housing.”

Mr. Mpango also commended and thanked the Governments of Sweden and Denmark, which were represented by their Ambassadors in Tanzania, for their confidence in the country’s economic growth. “These two nations, Sweden and Denmark, have shown us their true friendship not only in words but also in action. Please convey our country’s sincere appreciation to the Export Credit Agencies and lenders in your countries that have supported this signature project. As a country we shall honour our commitments as we have always done.” Hon. Dr. Mpango said.

In addition to thanking the Export Credit Agencies and lenders, Hon. Mpango also thanked the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), the Trade and Development Bank (TDB) and the African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim), for supporting the project in partnership with Export Credit Agencies from Denmark and Sweden.

He added that the funding would enable the project to be completed in good time as per the set plans.

Mr. Sanjay Rughani, Chief Executive Officer, Standard Chartered Tanzania, said the deal signified investor confidence in the market and demonstrated Standard Chartered’s international network capabilities and commitment to Tanzania.

“As a leading international Bank for Africa, with over 100 years of being in Tanzania, the African continent remains a key corridor not only for Standard Chartered but also our global clients. We are delighted to have reached this milestone in Tanzania to fund the SGR project that will deliver massive benefits to Tanzania and support the government’s 2025 vision of making Tanzania an industrialised country.” Mr. Rughani said.

Mr. Rughani added that the Bank will continue to leverage its unique network reach, and the credibility it has built over time, to further position Tanzania as the go-to destination for investments.

Sunil Kaushal, Regional CEO, Standard Chartered Africa and the Middle East said the deal signified the benefit of our unrivalled network capabilities into the region. “There is considerable appetite from the global investment community into Africa, with 80 percent of our top Corporate & Institutional clients using our Africa and Middle East network.  For Standard Chartered, Africa remains a priority for our business and clients, and we are proud to be able to use our expertise to support the Government of Tanzania with the finance needed for the SGR project.”

The sign off ceremony was also attended by the Ambassador of Denmark to Tanzania, H.E Mette Norgaard Dissing-Spandet and the Ambassador of Sweden to Tanzania, H.E Anders Sjoberg.

In attendance was also H.E Robert Mengoni, the Ambassador of Italy to Tanzania and Mr. Calumm Mcallum, Country Director, International Trade – for the British High Commission. The Country Manager for the Africa Development Bank Dr. Alex Mubiru and Resident Representative for the IMF in Tanzania, Mr. Jens Reinke also attended the event.

Other key Government Officials included the Permanent Secretary from the Ministry of Finance and Planning, Mr. Doto James, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Tanzania responsible for Economic and Financial Policies, Dr. Yamungu Kayandabila, and the Director General of the Tanzania Railway Corporation, Mr. Masanja Kadogosa.

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Heritage Bank stimulates CBN’s financial inclusion on 2020 target

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As part of efforts to consummate the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) initiated policy aimed at reducing the figure of the unbanked populace by 20 percent by 2020 and to ensure greater participation in the nation’s financial sector, Heritage Bank Plc has keyed into this initiative to drive financial inclusion and promote economic growth.

CBN has mandated all banks in line with the 2020 financial inclusion target, to have a nationwide Account Opening Week.

The Account Opening Week is an initiative of the CBN, Bankers’ Committee and other Stakeholders to provide opportunities for financially excluded Nigerians and Micro Small and Medium Enterprises to open accounts with formal financial institutions, with the overall aim to access financial services to reduce the current 36.8per cent financially excluded to 20per cent and stimulate economic growth.

Towards this developments, Heritage Bank strategically deployed its technology and large number of staff to reach the large populace who do not have bank accounts in selected states were sensitised and mobilised to designated centres in rural areas, where they opened their personal accounts.

Speaking on this exercise, the MD/CEO of the bank, Ifie Sekibo stated that Heritage Bank has been at the fore front and continued to give its unreserved backing towards reducing the exclusion rate to 20per cent by 2020, create jobs, reduce poverty and improve the welfare of the people.

According to him, the bank succeeded in opening more than 2, 000 bank accounts in designated centres of the following six (6) states; Kano, Ebonyi, Nasarawa, Gombe, Bayelsa and Ondo.

Meanwhile, Sekibo made recourse to Heritage Bank’s supports so far, thereby noting that the bank have been taking aggressive approach with the introduction of agent banking partners.

He pinpointed that the bank has brought on board over 10,000 agent partners since the commencement and launching of ‘corner shop’, which lends credibility to the consistency of the service and how it is changing lives and empowering Nigerians across the country.

At this steady growth rate of approximately 17.5 percent new agent per month, one can say that hitting the long term vision of 100,000 active agents in five years is well within reach.

However, Sekibo explained that financially excluded persons constitute a gap in the financial system and there is no way to create a perfect economy except all these people are brought on board.

“Another issue is that the older generation seem to be averse to technology because they have not been exposed to it and the fear of fraud,” he also said, but assured that the CBN and the banks will continue to improve its technology space.

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Ikeja Electric commissions new 33KV feeders to boost supply, expand network

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Persistent in the drive to optimize its services in the sector, Nigeria’s leading electricity distribution company, Ikeja Electric, has commissioned two new Feeders, Igando 33KV and Ijegun 33KV, to further boost supply to customers in the network.

With the completion of these Feeders, beneficiary communities will experience improved power supply, while the project has also enabled better alignment and strengthened network. Areas such as White Sand Joint CDA, Mutairu Alli, Taiwo Olaniran, Boripe, Idi Cashew, Lasisi Ajibade, Harmony, Ire-Akari and environs would benefit from the Ijegun 33KV feeder, while areas including Egan Town, Ajao Jimoh, Imoba 1, Iloilo, Taiwo Along, Abibatu Oseni, Oke as well as Bayas would benefit from Igando 33KV.

Meanwhile, Maximum Demand customers in these areas will also be able to increase capacity within their business for increased production and sales.

Speaking on the project, Head, Corporate Communications, Felix Ofulue explained that Ikeja Electric has consistently strengthened its network through new projects designed to boost electricity supply to customers and create exceptional service.

He said: “At Ikeja Electric, improvement of our network and enhancement of operations is a critical requirement because we are committed maintaining about ensuring efficient service delivery. And it will only get better as we roll out this expansion initiatives. We will continue to strengthen our lines, embark on new projects where necessary, in order to ensure that our equipment and installations are optimized, while also reducing downtime supply in order to satisfy our customers.

“These new projects will address issues of fluctuations, load-shedding on overloaded distribution transformers and perennial faults resulting to frequent downtime within the network as well as improve economic activities due to quality power supply to customers within these communities,” he noted.

Resulting from the new project, the company noted that the alignment carried out in the network made the Shasha 33KV feeder to be moved from T3 100MVA to T2 60MVA, Igando Injection Substation now feeds from Igando 33KV feeder, while Ijegun Injection Substation now feeds from Ijegun 33KV feeder and Egbe 33KV now feeds only line loads.

Ikeja Electric appealed to customers to report issues or faults promptly, ensure protection of Ikeja Electric installations within their locality, pay monthly bills on time and avoid assault on staff of the company. The Disco reiterated that its commitment to provision of quality, reliable and exceptional service delivery, remains the focal point.

The company noted that several strategic projects aimed at bolstering the network are ongoing across its six business unit and will be completed in due time.

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Heritage Bank, GEZAWA set to transform Nigeria’s agric sector to huge commercial hub

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The Nigerian agricultural sector is set to witness a huge growth, as Heritage Bank Plc the lead settlement bank for Gezawa Commodity Market (GCMX) has collaborated with key stakeholders to revolutionise agricultural value-chain, aimed at providing fully integrated ecosystem for commodity Exchange.

Heritage Bank was appointed as the Lead Settlement Bank and Transaction Adviser to the Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange Ltd and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the two firms, whilst over 10, 000 farmers in 3000 cooperatives in the 44 local governments of Kano States were hosted.

The partnership between Heritage Bank and the Exchange would facilitate the ease of agro commodity trading in a more structured way, especially with the closeness to the Dawanu, the largest grain market in Africa.

The MD/CEO of Heritage Bank Plc, Ifie Sekibo, who was a panelist at the 2nd GCMX Farmers’ Cooperative Forum in Kano at the weekend, stated that the partnership is targeted to de-risk the sector that would bring about structured and enhanced agro-business and attain food security that leads to economic development.

Sekibo, who was represented by the Executive Director, Jude Monye explained that the partnership which would help bridge the huge gap associated to risk, will fast track effective price discovery mechanism and traceability and enhanced trade settlement services.

Specifically, the bank’s helmsman stated that under the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) and the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), Heritage Bank would provide on-lending funding to aggregated farmers in the 2020 farming season to grow various products that will serve as raw materials to the processors, thereby ensuring market linkages and access to the market as well as reduce importation and conserve Nigeria’s external reserves.

According to him, with its assigned position  Heritage Bank would play a pivotal role in ensuring that there would be an effective and readily available platform for market linkages among players in the agribusiness value chain, involving FMCGs, warehouse operators, collateral managers, processors, farmers’ cooperatives to transact in a seamless way that guarantee quality, quantity, payment and delivery.

Speaking the event, the ED/CEO of Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Segun Awolowo affirmed that the initiative would help foster diversification of non-oil export trade.

He, however, stated that NEPC would ensure that the primary for the signing of the MoU would be achieve, whilst calling for the need to ensure adequate and seamless supply of agricultural commodities for the business to be sustainable.

The Gezawa Project Consultant, Binchang Binfa, Managing Director of Makarios Global Resource, disclosed, “the ultimate goal was to unlock the vast potential of agricultural value chain via partnerships and synergy with likeminded enterprises, organisations and institutions that will mutually create wealth, generate local employment and contribute significantly to the economic growth and GDP the nation.”

He stated that the Exchange would provide services on price discovery and transparency, increase foreign exchange earning capacity, commodity storage and warehouse receipt system, employment generation of 15, 000 direct and indirect jobs, investment opportunities, increase in non-oil export, ease of doing business, weather report, soil test report, as well as 24/7 online trading of commodities on alive trading platform.

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