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AfDB Approves $115m Loan to Abia State for Road Rehabilitation, Solid Waste Management

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The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group has approved a loan of $115 million to support a major road rehabilitation project in Nigeria’s Abia State. The project will see the rehabilitation of roads, erosion control infrastructure and preparation of solid waste management facilities in the state capital, Umuahia, and the commercial hub, Aba.

Financing for the project, estimated at a total cost of $263.80 million, will come through an African Development Bank loan of $100 million; a Canada–African Development Bank Climate Fund (CACF) loan of $15 million; and a $125 million co-financing loan from the Islamic Development Bank. The Abia State government will provide $23.80 million in counterpart funding for compensation to people affected by the project and implementation of a Resettlement Action Plan.

Under the project, which is expected to be completed in 2029, a total of 248.46 km of road – 58.03 km of roads in Umuahia and 190.43 km of roads in Aba – will be rehabilitated to asphaltic concrete standards at varying cross sections. Erosion sites in Umuahia and Aba will be reinstated as well as preparatory studies undertaken for private sector participation in solid waste management for the two cities. The project will also include capacity building, project management and development of social infrastructure such as the rehabilitation of schools and the provision of sanitation facilities in schools, community markets and  hospitals.

With an estimated population of 553,000 and 814,000 respectively (2022 estimates), Umuahia, capital of Abia State, and Aba, the commercial hub, are currently facing serious infrastructure challenges arising from decades of underinvestment amidst rapid urbanisation. The situation is aggravated by gully erosion and the emergence of huge piles of solid waste on the roads.

When completed, the 1.37 million population in these two cities will benefit from reduced travel time, reduced vehicle operating costs and lower transport cost. The project will also create 3,000 temporary jobs (30% for women) at the construction phase, and about 1,000 permanent jobs during the operational phase.

The permanent jobs will particularly benefit the youth, who will make up 50% of the project. They will be trained in contract management by the State Youth Road Maintenance Corps for road maintenance,  a body of young Abia engineers drawn from the 17 Local Government Areas of the State.

Lamin Barrow, Director General of the African Development Bank’s Nigeria Country Department, said the project will build resilience by providing the towns access to urban infrastructure services, including economic and social amenities.

Barrow said, “The results from implementation of the project will help expand access to economic and social amenities in the two cities, and thereby contribute to building sustainable and liveable cities.”

The African Development Bank’s portfolio in Nigeria comprises 48 operations worth $4.2 billion. The national (Federal and States) operations account for 90% of the portfolio, for 41 projects amounting to $3.79 billion, while multinational operations constitute 10%, for 7 projects amounting to $0.41 billion. There are 24 Sovereign Operations ($2.36 billion or 56% of total commitments) and 24 Non-Sovereign Operations ($1.84 billion or 44%).

 


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E-Financial

Extradition Efforts Underway as Arjarwalla, Fugitive Binance Executive Located in Kenya

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Nigerian Government has traced Nadeem Arjarwalla, Binance executive to Kenya following his escape from custody and is currently taking steps to extradite him back to Nigeria.

Extradition Efforts Underway as Arjarwalla, Fugitive Binance Executive Located in Kenya

According to a report from Punch, sources from within the office of the Nigerian presidency disclosed that Arjarwalla went into hiding once he arrived in Kenya.

The Nigerian government is collaborating with Interpol and Kenyan police to bring Arjarwalla back to Nigeria to face charges leveled against him.

Anjarwalla arrived in Nigeria in February following claims that the exchange manipulated the country’s fiat currency, the Nigerian naira. Arjarwalla was detained alongside another Binance executive after a meeting with the Nigerian government.

Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) heads up the investigation and slammed the exchange and its two executives with five counts bordering on money laundering. However, Anjarwalla reportedly escaped custody on March 22 and was able to board a flight out of the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

Anjarwalla reportedly flew out of Abuja on a Middle East airline. However, it is unclear how he managed to board the international flight, as his United Kingdom passport, with which he entered Nigeria, remains in the custody of the Nigerian authorities.

According to an immigration official, the Binance executive fled Nigeria on a Kenyan passport, and authorities are now trying to determine how Anjarwalla acquired the passport, as he had no other travel documents while in custody.

While Arjarwalla remains out of the country, the other Binance executive, Tigran Gambaryan, pleaded not guilty to the charges, with his wife and others calling for his release after several weeks in detention. Gambaryan’s wife has launched a petition to bring him back to the United States, which had 3,373 signatures at the time of publication. However, Gambaryan’s case has been adjourned until April 19.

On March 5, Binance announced that it intended to cease all naira transactions, effectively exiting the market. Binance also mentioned that Binance’s peer-to-peer platform delisted all naira trading pairs in late February.

On Feb. 27, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria argued that crypto exchanges in Nigeria were suspected of handling illicit transactions, also pointing to “suspicious flows” of funds at Binance.

 


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NGX Sanctions Julius Berger over ‘Insider Dealing’

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Nigerian Exchange (NGX) has sanctioned Julius Berger Nigeria (JBN) Plc for engaging in inappropriate insider dealing in shares.

NGX Sanctions Julius Berger over ‘Insider Dealing’

Insider dealing is the illegal practice of trading on the stock exchange to one’s own advantage through having access to confidential information.

Incorporated in 1970, Julius Berger Nigeria became a publicly quoted company in 1991 and has more than 10,000 shareholders.

NGX Regulatory Company (NGX RegCo), the self regulatory organisation (SRO) that regulates activities at the NGX, stated that JBN breached certain provisions of the listing rules and was thus sanctioned accordingly.

According to NGX RegCo, JBN violated provisions on “closed period”, in breach of the construction company’s commitment to adhere to listing rules and standards.

The NGX had tightened its rules and regulations to checkmate boardroom intrigues and block information arbitrage that tend to confer advantages on companies’ directors.

The amendments expanded the scope and authority of corporate financial reporting while eliminating gaps that allowed companies to sidetrack relevant rules in stage-managing corporate compliance.

The enhanced framework provided clarity and greater disclosures on directors’ trading in shares, corporate liability for accuracy and compliance of financial statement, dissuade bogus dividend payment and other sundry boardroom’s maneuverings that tend to favour insiders.

The amendments came on the heels of noticeable increase in violations of rules on ‘closed period’, a period when directors are banned from trading in the shares of their companies.

Rule 17.17 of the NGX disallows insiders and their connected persons from trading in the shares or bonds of their companies during the ‘closed period’ or any period during which trading is restricted.

This period is mostly at a period of sensitive material information, like prior knowledge of financials, dividends or major corporate changes, which places directors and other insiders at advantage above other general and retail investors.

A review of the disclosure violations at the stock market had shown that all violations in 2021 were related to violation of Rule 17.17 on ‘closed period’.

Under the amendments, in addition to the provisions of relevant accounting standards, laws, rules and requirements regarding preparation of financial statements, companies are now required to include several specific declarations on securities transactions by directors, changes in shareholding structure, self-assessment on compliance with corporate governance standards and internal code for directors on securities transactions among others.

According to the rules, in relation to securities transactions by directors, a company shall disclose in its quarterly financial statements, full year audited financial statements, and in corporate governance report contained in its annual report whether the company has adopted a code of conduct regarding securities transactions by its directors on terms no less exacting than the required standard set out by the market.

The company is also required to disclose, having made specific enquiry of all directors, whether its directors have complied with, or whether there has been any non-compliance with, the required standard set out in the Exchange’s rules and in code of conduct regarding securities transactions by directors.

 

Cerdit: The Nation

 


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IMF says Rising Cyber Threats Pose Serious Concerns for Financial Stability

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has declared that cyberattacks have more than doubled since the pandemic. In a blog released during the week, it pointed out that while companies have historically suffered relatively modest direct losses from cyberattacks, some have experienced a much heavier toll.

Specifically, US credit reporting agency Equifax, for example, paid more than $1 billion in penalties after a major data breach in 2017 that affected about 150 million consumers.

“As we show in a chapter of the April 2024 Global Financial Stability Report, the risk of extreme losses from cyber incidents is increasing. Such losses could potentially cause funding problems for companies and even jeopardise their solvency.

“The size of these extreme losses has more than quadrupled since 2017 to $2.5 billion. And indirect losses like reputational damage or security upgrades are substantially higher.

“The financial sector is uniquely exposed to cyber risk. Financial firms—given the large amounts of sensitive data and transactions they handle—are often targeted by criminals seeking to steal money or disrupt economic activity. Attacks on financial firms account for nearly one-fifth of the total, of which banks are the most exposed,” IMF said.

According to the Bretton Woods institution, incidents in the financial sector could threaten financial and economic stability if they erode confidence in the financial system, disrupt critical services, or cause spillovers to other institutions. “For example, a severe incident at a financial institution could undermine trust and, in extreme cases, lead to market selloffs or runs on banks.

Although no significant “cyber runs” have occurred thus far, our analysis suggests modest and somewhat persistent deposit outflows have occurred at smaller US banks after a cyberattack.

“Cyber incidents that disrupt critical services like payment networks could also severely affect economic activity. For example, a December attack at the Central Bank of Lesotho disrupted the national payment system, preventing transactions by domestic banks.

“Another consideration is that financial firms increasingly rely on third-party IT service providers, and may do so even more with the emerging role of artificial intelligence.

“Such external providers can improve operational resilience, but also expose the financial industry to systemwide shocks. For example, a 2023 ransomware attack on a cloud IT service provider caused simultaneous outages at 60 US credit unions,” it added.

The Fund said with the global financial system facing significant and growing cyber risks from increasing digitalization and geopolitical tensions, policies and governance frameworks at firms must keep pace.

The global lender added that because private incentives may be insufficient to address cyber risks—for example, firms may not fully account for the systemwide effects of incidents—public intervention may be necessary.

However, according to an IMF survey of central banks and supervisory authorities, cybersecurity policy frameworks, especially in emerging market and developing economies, often remain insufficient. For example, only about half of countries surveyed had a national, financial sector-focused cybersecurity strategy or dedicated cybersecurity regulations.

To strengthen resilience in the financial sector, authorities should develop an adequate national cybersecurity strategy accompanied by effective regulation and supervisory capacity that should encompass: Periodically assessing the cybersecurity landscape and identifying potential systemic risks from interconnectedness and concentrations, including from third-party service providers.

Encouraging cyber “maturity” among financial sector firms, including board-level access to cybersecurity expertise, as supported by the chapter’s analysis which suggests that better cyber-related governance may reduce cyber risk.

Improving cyber hygiene of firms—that is, their online security and system health (such as antimalware and multifactor authentication)—and training and awareness.

Prioritising data reporting and collection of cyber incidents, and sharing information among financial sector participants to enhance their collective preparedness.

As attacks often emanate from outside a financial firm’s home country and proceeds can be routed across borders, international cooperation is imperative to address cyber risk successfully.

It stressed that while cyber incidents will occur, the financial sector needed the capacity to deliver critical business services during these disruptions.

To this end, financial firms should develop, and test, response and recovery procedures and national authorities should have effective response protocols and crisis management frameworks in place.

It also hinted that IMF actively helped member countries strengthen their cybersecurity frameworks through policy advice, for example as part of the Financial Sector Assessment Programme, and through capacity-building activities.


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