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MTN to Exit Middle East, Intensify Focus on Africa

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The MTN Group expects to sustain its growth in the medium term, despite the continued impact of COVID-19 on global markets, as it readies an exit strategy for the Middle East and affirms focus on Africa.

The company outlined details as part of the presentation of its financial results for the first half of 2020.

Rob Shuter, MTN Group president and chief executive officer said: “As part of our ongoing portfolio review, we believe the group is best served to focus in the future on our pan-African strategy. We will therefore be exiting the Middle East in an orderly manner over the medium term. As a first step we are in advanced discussions to sell our 75% stake in MTN Syria.”

MTN reported service revenue growth of 9,4% to R80 billion and EBITDA growth of 10,9% to R42 billion. Headline earnings per share after non-operational impacts grew by 54%, operating free cash flow increased by 117,8% and ROE improved further to 14,1%.

Shuter added: “MTN’s first half performance affirmed the resilience of our people and business model as we delivered strong results against the backdrop of unprecedented socio- and macroeconomic uncertainty and challenges. As we navigate the pandemic and its effects, we have prioritised looking after our people, customers and networks while focusing on efficiencies.”

He said that work-from-home programmes continue for MTN staff; Y’ello Hope Packages are helping ease customers’ financial pressures; and MTN’s support for various other initiatives aims to limit the impact of COVID-19 on society.”

MTN added 11 million subscribers in the first six months of the year to reach a total base of 262 million. By end June 2020, the operator had 102 million active data users and 38 million active Mobile Money users.

“Despite lockdown restrictions impacting network rollout, MTN Group invested R10-billion in capital expenditure across our markets and brought a further 54 million people into 3G and 4G coverage. The focus on affordability of data saw the average rate per megabyte reduced by 34%,” the company stated.

The group made progress on the asset realisation programme, concluding the disposal of the tower company investments in Ghana and Uganda for R8,8 billion.

According to official results for the six months ended 30 June 2020, MTN Ghana continues to prioritise its investments in infrastructure expansion and have invested GH¢715.6 million in capex^ to date (2019 capex: GH¢803.1 million) “supporting significant improvement in network coverage, customer experience and quality of service (QoS).”

The company stated: “Following a strong overall performance in the first half of the year, we are cautious of the uncertainties surrounding the likely duration and related economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for the rest of the year.

“The potential areas of impact and focus remain our employee and customers’ safety; regulatory risk; supply chain delays and availability; liquidity, currency and counterparty risks management; and the potential revenue impact from reduced consumer spend.”

“We remain focused on our journey from a traditional mobile telecommunications operator to an emerging digital operator, with 2020 being the ‘Year of the customer: the digital experience’ with focus on digitalisation as a tool to enhance customer experience as well as create value for our shareholders.”

MTN did not declare an interim dividend given the continued uncertain impact of COVID-19 on the operating environment but will consider a final dividend should conditions warrant.

“While we expect the remainder of the year to be shaped by the ongoing challenges presented by the pandemic, we believe that MTN will remain comparatively resilient and is poised to sustain its growth over the medium term,” said Shuter.


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Rivers State, Shell Inaugurate Cluster Development Board for Assa North Gas Project

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The Rivers State government and the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC), energy company, recently inaugurated the Egi/Igburu Cluster Development Board (CDB) for pipeline communities to SPDC’s Assa North Gas project, which has a capacity for 300 million standard cubic feet of gas per day and the potential to be one of the largest domestic gas projects in Nigeria when completed.

Rivers State, Shell Inaugurate Cluster Development Board for Assa North Gas Project

Barrister Elloka Tasie-Amadi, State Commissioner for Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, at the ceremony, urged the Comrade Orikoha Ekwueme-led newly elected officials of the CDB to use the opportunity of leadership to make positive impacts that will improve living standards in their communities.

He said, “The state government is always available to support you. Always speak with your people, including the Community Trust Committees (which were also newly inaugurated). Adequate communication will ensure the buy-in of all your stakeholders”.

He decried those who see leadership as opportunity for self-seeking gains. “Leadership is more of sacrifice; not an opportunity for personal benefit”, The Commissioner said.

Also, at the inauguration, Mr. Igo Weli, SPDC general manager External Relations,  said, “The Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU), that you signed today, sets the framework for long-term partnership between SPDC JV and the Egi/Igburu Cluster. The GMoU runs on the principle of community-led development. Today, SPDC JV commits to providing funding to help you realise your community development aspirations.”

Represented at the ceremony by Dr. Banji Adekoya, SPDC External Relations Manager for Projects and Opportunities, he asked the CDB to “be prudent and implement projects and programmes that will deliver maximum benefits to the Egi/Igburu communities. Note that government, SPDC JV and the communities that you represent will hold you accountable for the judicious utilisation of the development funds.”

“With the inauguration, SPDC reiterates the company’s commitment to the Assa North Gas Project and to making it an exemplary one, particularly in Nigeria’s quest for energy sufficiency, for power generation and industrialization”, he said.

On its part, the new CDB committed to use SPDC’s award-winning GMoU agreement, which is a community-led sustainable development and interface management model that puts the communities in the driving seat in setting development priorities and implementation of programmes and projects to meet their needs.

The GMOU is a proven winning approach introduced in 2006, adopted across SPDC’s operational areas and provides a secure five-year funding for communities to implement development projects of their choice.

With the inauguration of the Egi/Igburu CDB, SPDC now has 40 active GMoUs in Abia, Bayelsa, Delta, Imo and Rivers States. Since 2006, SPDC JV has disbursed a total of $252 million to communities through these GMoUs.

The Assa North/Ohaji South gas project is a joint venture project involving the SPDC, the NNPC, Total E&P Nigeria Limited, and Nigerian Agip Oil Company, and will result in a new SPDC gas processing plant.

The development will help the federal government deliver on its ambition to provide enough gas for domestic consumption, power generation and gas-based ammonia and urea fertilizers for farmers.


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African Entrepreneurs Vying for Anzisha Recognition

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The Anzisha Prize, a partnership between African Leadership Academy and Mastercard Foundation, has revealed its top 20 finalists for 2020. Winners will be announced at this year’s Anzisha Prize Conference on 27 October 2020.

Organisers say this year’s application season saw a record 1 200 applicants vying for a chance to join the Anzisha Prize fellowship.

From these applications, 20 businesses emerged that were 45% percent female-owned and represented sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and education.

Young entrepreneurs from Morocco, South Africa and Tanzania displayed impressive ventures that are tackling critical issues within their communities while also turning a profit. Through their businesses and entrepreneurial leadership skills, these job starters are paving a way for other young Africans to pursue entrepreneurship.

Selected as a top 20 finalist is 21-year-old Alaa Moatamed who is the co-founder of Presto, a company she describes as one of the leading delivery management platforms in Egypt. The venture provides business owners with an affordable and convenient delivery service for their customers.

Joining Alaa is 20-year-old Benjamin Mushayija Gisa from Rwanda who manufactures and packages natural organic products for consumption and for cosmetic purposes in the form of lotions and coconut soap.

“2020 has seen a global shift in the future of work. This year’s applicants have personified the resilience and innovation that Africa needs as we navigate our way into a post-COVID-19 future,” says Melissa Mbazo-Ekepenyong, Deputy Director of the Anzisha Prize.

The Anzisha Prize, a partnership between African Leadership Academy and Mastercard Foundation, has supported 122 entrepreneurs and 77 of those businesses have created over 2 000 jobs, with 56% of those being employment provided for young Africans under 25.

Peter Materu, Chief Program Officer, Mastercard Foundation says, “The success of the Anzisha Prize over the last decade stands as a resounding testament to the creativity and entrepreneurial potential of Africa’s very young people—a hugely under-tapped resource.

Through Anzisha, we’re reminded of what they can achieve when challenged and enabled to own and solve the problems they see around them. Now, as ever, the innovations that have emerged through the Anzisha Prize inspire and renew our faith in and commitment to their promise.”

This year, the top 20 will gather virtually from their various countries to share knowledge and learn from expert coaches and mentors as they prepare for their final pitches to a panel of external judges.

All the entrepreneurs will receive a cash prize of US$2 500. The grand prize winner will receive US$25 000, while the 1st runner and 2nd runner receive US$15 000 and US$12 500 respectively.


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FG Bans Emirates Airlines from Operating in Nigeria

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Federal Government has included Emirates Airlines in the list of airlines not allowed to operate in Nigeria.

FG Bans Emirates Airlines from Operating in Nigeria

This is part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

Hadi Sirika, minister of Aviation, confirmed this via his Twitter handle on Friday.

According to Sirika, the decision was taken following a meeting between the Presidential Task Force (PTF) and European Unions (EU).

The ban would take effect from Monday, September 21, 2020.

“The PTF sub-committee met today with EU Ambassadors to discuss Lufthansa, Air France/KLM ban.

“The meeting progressed well. Emirates Airlines’s situation was reviewed and they are consequently included in the list of those not approved, with effect from Monday the 21st September 2020,” Sirika tweeted.


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