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African Youth Entrepreneurship Agreement Signed Between the Tony Elumelu Foundation and UNCDF

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Memorandum of Understanding Signed on the Sidelines of the UN General Assembly

The Tony Elumelu Foundation and the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) today signed an agreement to support youth entrepreneurship in Africa, with a specific focus on historically underinvested areas within African frontier markets.

In bringing together the expertise, experience and boots-on-the-ground presence in African markets of The Tony Elumelu Foundation and UNCDF, the two organizations will work towards reaching and empowering the most promising youth entrepreneurs on the continent.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed at the offices of UNCDF on the sidelines of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly. The agreement was signed by Tony O. Elumelu, C.O.N, Founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation; and Preeti Sinha, Executive Secretary of UNCDF.

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Tony O. Elumelu, C.O.N, Founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation; and Preeti Sinha, Executive Secretary of UNCDF.

“In Africa, we feel the harsh impact of youth joblessness. As African leaders, we must do something. As global leaders, it is important that we work together to address this issue. If we don’t deal with these challenges today, the world will not be a good place for all of us,” said Tony Elumelu, Founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation. “In Nigeria alone, about 60% of our young ones, who account for half of our population are not employed. This is a problem that we need to resolve collectively. I want to say thank you Preeti, your colleagues, and the entire UNCDF, for supporting this kind of partnership. We know what our young ones in Africa need, we know how having access to finance can help change the trajectory of their lives. I hope that what we are about to do today with this partnership signing will help to expand and scale what we do at TEF. Last year, we partnered with the European Union to empower 3,000 young African women entrepreneurs, because they share our belief that if you empower a woman, you empower an entire community. We hope that this initiative helps us to touch even more lives across the continent.”

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“LDCs face a stark demographic challenge, as their population is projected to double to 1.7 billion by 2050. The LDC youth population aged 15 to 24 years is expected to soar to 300 million by 2050, when one in four youths worldwide will live in an LDC. We cannot embark on this journey alone, as the challenge is daunting and requires a concerted effort. This is why we welcome collaborating with like-minded organisations working in the same direction,” said Preeti Sinha, Executive Secretary of the UN Capital Development Fund. “The TEF is one like no other, a leading champion of young entrepreneurship in Africa. UNCDF is thrilled about the endless possibilities for collaboration in the field of youth entrepreneurship, leveraging the strengths of both organisations.”

The agreement is intended to leverage the distinct capabilities of the two organizations. The Tony Elumelu Foundation is the leading philanthropy empowering young African entrepreneurs, serving all 54 African countries. UNCDF serves as the UN’s catalytic finance entity for the world’s 46 least developed countries, which it sees as the frontier economies of today and the growth markets of tomorrow.

As part of the mission to support youth entrepreneurship in Africa, the MOU will call on the two organizations to mobilize resources for youth-led enterprises, including enterprises operating through joint-programmes between The Tony Elumelu Foundation and UNCDF.

The two organizations under the MoU will also look to create platforms that will connect such enterprises with critical resources to support their business models; including financial capital, access to networks and markets and technical assistance.

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Tony O. Elumelu, C.O.N, Founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation; and Preeti Sinha, Executive Secretary of UNCDF.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation is the leading champion of entrepreneurship in Africa. Our objective is to empower women and men across our continent, catalysing economic growth, driving poverty eradication and ensuring job creation. We believe the private sector’s role is critical for Africa’s development and that the private sector must create both social and economic wealth. Founded by African investor and philanthropist, Tony O. Elumelu, C.O.N, and representing his personal commitment to creating a new generation of entrepreneurs, through his investment company, Heirs Holdings, the Foundation is active in all 54 African countries.

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UNCDF offers “last mile” finance models that unlock public and private resources, especially at the domestic level, to reduce poverty and support local economic development. UNCDF’s financing models work through three channels: (1) inclusive digital economies, which connects individuals, households, and small businesses with financial eco-systems that catalyze participation in the local economy, and provide tools to climb out of poverty and manage financial lives; (2) local development finance, which capacitates localities through fiscal decentralization, innovative municipal finance, and structured project finance to drive local economic expansion and sustainable development; and (3) investment finance, which provides catalytic financial structuring, de-risking, and capital deployment to drive SDG impact and domestic resource mobilization.

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Electricity subsidy gulps N629bn as Discos generate N1.1tn

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The Federal Government spent N628.61bn as subsidy on electricity in 2023, as power distribution companies collected a total revenue of N1.08tn during the same period, the latest industry data obtained from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission on Wednesday showed.

An analysis of figures from the power sector regulator indicated that electricity subsidies continued to increase every quarter all through last year.

It was observed that subsidies on power in the first, second, third, and fourth quarters of 2024 were N36.02bn, N135.23bn, N204.6bn, and N252.76bn respectively.

It was also observed that during the same period, power distribution companies raked in N247.09bn, N267.86bn, N267.61bn, and N294.95bn in the first, second, third, and fourth quarters of 2023 respectively.

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The rise in revenue by Discos prompted calls for improved services from the power firms, as consumers condemned the Discos’ inability to deliver satisfactorily.

In the absence of cost-reflective tariffs, the Federal Government undertakes to cover the resultant gap between the cost-reflective and allowed tariff in the form of tariff subsidies.

For ease of administration, the subsidy is only applied to the power generation cost payable by Discos to the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading company, which is the power trader in the sector.

The transmission and administrative service costs payable by Discos to the Market Operator, an arm of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, are recovered 100 per cent.

However, it should be noted that the power generation cost is a major component that guarantees electricity generation and supply across the country.

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Also, the share of the NBET invoice to be covered by Discos is determined by the percentage of the generation cost they can recover from the allowed tariff and set out as their Minimum Remittance Obligation in the periodic tariff orders issued by the commission.

Commenting on the amount spent on electricity subsidy in the fourth quarter of 2023 in its latest report, the NERC said, “It is important to note that due to the absence of cost-reflective tariffs across all Discos, the government incurred a subsidy obligation of ₦252.76bn in 2023/Q4.”

This represents an average of ₦84.25bn per month, which is an increase of ₦48.16bn (23.54 per cent), compared to the ₦204.6bn (average of ₦68.20bn per month) incurred in 2023/Q3.

“This increase is largely attributable to the government’s policy to harmonise exchange rates, while also directing that end-user customer tariffs remain at the December 2022 approved rates,” the commission stated.

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Explaining the subsidy spent on power in the third quarter, NERC said, “It is important to note that due to the absence of cost-reflective tariffs across all Discos, the government incurred a subsidy obligation of ₦204.59bn in 2023/Q3 (average of ₦68.20bn per month).

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“This is an increase of ₦69.37bn (51.30 per cent) compared to the ₦135.23bn (average of ₦45.08bn per month) incurred in 2023/Q2; this increase is largely attributable to the government’s policy to harmonise exchange rates.

“The rise in the government’s subsidy obligation meant that in 2023/Q3, Discos were only expected to cover 45 per cent of the total invoice received from NBET. For ease of administration of the subsidy, the MRO is limited to NBET only with the MO being allowed to recover 100 per cent of its revenue requirement from the Discos.”

“On the same subsidy issue for the second quarter of 2023, the commission stated that due to the absence of cost-reflective tariffs across all Discos, the “government incurred a subsidy obligation of ₦135.23bn in 2023/Q2.”

It added that this represents “an increase of ₦99.21bn (275 per cent) compared to the ₦36.02bn incurred in 2023/Q1. This increase is largely attributable to the government’s policy to harmonise exchange rates. On average, the subsidy obligation incurred by the government per month was ₦45.08bn in 2023/Q2.”
Discos earn N1.1tn

The data from NERC also showed how power distribution companies garnered about N1.1tn from customers across the country last year amid complaints of poor supply by end-users of electricity.

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On the collection efficiency of the Discos in the fourth quarter of 2023, the regulator said, “The total revenue collected by all Discos in 2023/Q4 was ₦294.95bn out of ₦399.69bn billed to customers.

“This translates to a collection efficiency of 73.79 per cent which represents a decrease of -2.77 basic points when compared to 2023/Q3 (76.56 per cent).”

The commission explained that over previous quarters, it observed that whenever there was an increase in energy offtake, there was usually a decrease in Discos’ billing and collection efficiencies for the same period.

“This is probably because Discos send more energy to areas where they incur more commercial losses. The inverse relationship between energy offtake by Discos and billing as well as collection efficiencies may pose challenges to the long-term growth of the NESI (Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry) unless Discos make significant progress towards improving energy accounting and addressing the major causes of losses,” it stated.

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The commission’s quarterly reports indicated that the power distribution companies raked in N247.09bn, N267.86bn, N267.61bn, and N294.95bn in the first, second, third, and fourth quarters of 2023 respectively.
Power consumers complain

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Power consumers condemned the rise in the revenue of electricity distribution companies amid the worsening state of power supply nationwide.

The National Secretary, Nigeria Electricity Consumer Advocacy Network, Uket Obonga, said the Discos made money in 2023 as a result of policies initiated by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission.

These policies, according to Obonga, benefitted the Discos more but did not increase power supply to consumers, adding that the Discos also failed to improve their networks to serve their customers better.

“They are making money and smiling but they have not expanded their network to meet the demands of customers. What is giving them money is the Service Based Tariff that was initiated by NERC, which is questionable; another is the Performance Improvement Plan, which again is questionable.

“On SBT, you are aware that since this year, no consumer can comfortably say he or she has received up to eight hours of supply in a day. Many consumers suffered the same thing last year.

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“Now, you have over 60 per cent of unmetered customers and the Discos will bring bills to these customers whether these Discos supplied power or not to the power users. And they will still harass customers with threats of disconnection if the customers fail to pay.

“And the regulator of the sector has not done anything concrete to address this. So tell me, why won’t the Discos make money? They are making money by distributing darkness,” the NECAN secretary stated.

Obonga called for sanctions against Discos that fail to meter their customers, stressing that had it been most consumers were metered, it would be difficult for the power distributors to defraud their customers with estimated bills.

“The NERC recently revealed how the Discos overbilled their customers over a certain period and declared that the power firms would make refunds. That declaration should be enforced,” he stated.

In February, Theheute reported that Discos overbilled customers by N105bn, and were to face sanctions from NERC.

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The commission had declared that it would deduct N10,505,286,072 from the annual allowed revenues of the 11 power distribution companies during the next tariff review as part of sanctions over their non-compliance with the capping of estimated bills for unmetered customers.

NERC disclosed this in a notice obtained in Abuja, stressing that the billing of unmetered customers in their various franchise areas for 2023 revealed non-compliance with the monthly energy caps issued by the commission.

The commission explained that the Discos would pay about 10 per cent of the amount they over-billed their customers between January and September 2023.

In separate orders to the Discos, it was established that the power firms over-billed their customers to the tune of about N105bn in nine months.

Abuja Disco, for instance, overbilled its customers without meters to the tune of N17.874bn, while Eko Disco over-billed its unmetered customers by N13.137bn.

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Port Harcourt Disco overbilled its customers without meters by N14.187bn, as Kaduna Disco overbilled its customers by N1.145bn.

The regulator ordered Discos to refund the cheated customers in full and to ensure compliance in the future, stressing that to deter future occurrences, a 10 per cent fine had been imposed on the utilities.

NERC often issues orders stipulating the maximum amount that any unmetered customer is meant to pay to the distribution company that provides him or her electricity services.

The amount will continue until the customer is metered by the distribution company, according to NERC’s order to the power firms.

In the February notice, the regulator said, “The public may recall that in 2020, the commission issued the order on Capping of Estimated Bills (Order No: NERC/197/2020) and subsequently issued monthly energy caps which aimed to align the estimated bills for unmetered customers with the measured consumption of metered customers on the same supply feeder.

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“A review of the electricity distribution companies’ billing of unmetered customers for 2023 has revealed non-compliance with the monthly energy caps issued by the commission.”

In response to this and in a bid to safeguard unmetered customers from arbitrary billing by Discos, the commission stated that pursuant to Section 34(1)(d) of the Electricity Act 2023, it had issued the order on Non-Compliance with Capping of Estimated Bills (Order No: NERC/2024/004-01 4).

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Chain Reactions in 7 star performance at 2024 SABRE awards

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It was a seven-star performance for Chain Reactions Africa (CRA), one of Africa’s leading Public Relations and Integrated Communications Consultancy as it took home seven African SABRE trophies, more than any other public relations firm in Africa in the 2024 competition.

The awards which were held at the end of the annual African Public Relations Association (APRA) Conference, were presented by Provoke Media, organizers of the awards in Basam, Abidjan, Cote D’Ivore on May 16th 2024.
The work covered campaigns for the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), and its Lagos Blue Rail, 9mobile’s The Hack – Expand Your Hustle’, ‘Taming the Bull’ for the Presidency, ‘Next Era of Happiness’ for leading biscuit company, Pladis Foods Nigeria Limited.

Receiving the awards on behalf of Chain Reactions and its clients, was its Managing Director/Chief Strategist, Israel Opayemi, who noted that this is a seven-star performance by Chain Reactions Africa at the 2024 SABRE Awards.

In his comments, Opayemi said “To emerge as the highest winner at the 2024 edition of the award with seven SABRE Awards is humbling as well as exciting for us at Chain Reactions Africa. We are immensely proud to be honoured on such a global platform like the SABRE awards which is the holy grail of Public Relations globally as the awards programme is dedicated to benchmarking the best PR works across the globe.”

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He continued, “I am making a three-fold dedication of these multiple trophies to our clients who believe in us, my team members who do the brave works relentlessly and our dear country Nigeria. Ten years ago, we were at the SABRE Awards in Miami, Florida in the United States watching and applauding as winners took turns on stage. Ten years ago, we were asking for a seat at the table. Today, we are sitting in creative resplendence at the head of the table. Today, we are flying the Nigerian flag on the global stage. We are now a territory of reckoning and relevance in the global PR space.”

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It seems winning awards is just a Chain Reactions thing, chuckled Arun Sudhaman CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Provoke Media, organizers of the SABRE Awards as Opayemi rose up seven times to receive the awards. The PR consultancy also picked up four Certificates of Excellence in recognition of its work launching the Nigerian Youth Trend Report 2024 known as ‘ARAMANDA’, ‘Next Era of Happiness’, ‘Lagos Blue Rail’, ‘The Hack – Expand Your Hustle’, and ‘Taming the Bull’.

In his reaction, the President and Chairman of the Council of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) described the awards by Chain Reactions Africa as “a harvest of honours for Nigeria”. He thanked the Chain Reactions Africa team for their outstanding work saying, “Thank you for making us proud.”

Chain Reactions Africa has over the years won several prestigious SABRE awards and has been awarded more than 15 Certificates of Excellence. At last year’s award, the company won CEO of the Year category for the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu for the use of public relations to tell the story of his administration’s achievements and scooped two Certificates of Excellence in the Corporate Image category for the ‘Momentum Campaign’ for Cellulant, a flagship payment solution provider; and ‘Marketing to Consumers’ category for ‘The #NaijaHighlandah Campaign’ for William Lawson’s, Scotch Whiskey brand.

The 2024 Africa SABRE Awards shortlist included more than 120 campaigns, selected from over 500 entries in this year’s competition, which recognizes Superior Achievement in Branding, Reputation and Engagement. The campaigns were evaluated by a jury of industry leaders.

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Port Harcourt refinery begins operation July

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The 210,000-barrel-per-day Port-Harcourt refinery may finally commence operations by the end of July after several postponements.

The new date was disclosed on Monday by the National Public Relations Officer, Independent Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief Ukadike Chinedu.

He stated that the development would stimulate economic activities, reduce the price of petroleum products and ensure adequate supply.

Last year in December, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Heineken Lokpobiri, announced the mechanical completion and flare start-off of the biggest crude refinery in Port Harcourt.

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The refineries comprise two units, with the old plant having a refined capacity of 60,000 barrels per day and the new plant has 150,000 BPD.

The refinery shut down in March 2019 for the first phase of repair works after the government secured the service of a technical adviser of Itay’s Maire Tecnimont to handle the reviews of the refinery complex, with oil major Eni appointed technical adviser.

On March 15, 2024, it was reported that the Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC Limited, Mele Kyari, stated that the Port Harcourt refinery would commence operations in about two weeks.

The NNPC boss disclosed this during a press briefing after he appeared before the Senate Ad hoc committee investigating the various turnaround maintenance projects of the country’s refineries.

He said, “We did a mechanical completion of the refinery that was what we said in December. We now have crude oil already stocked in the refinery. We are doing regulatory compliance tests that must happen in every refinery before you start it, and I assure you that this Port Harcourt refinery will start in two weeks.”

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However, the machinery had yet to begin operations two months after he made the promise.

In an exclusive interview on Monday, the IPMAN official stated that the work done represented a complete turnaround, not just rehabilitation, emphasising that every effort would be made to meet the July deadline.

Ukadike said, “Yes when we visited the place, the MD told us that the refinery was almost ready and by the end of July, they would start producing. It has been turned into a new one they changed all the armoured cable to brand new and everything there is almost like a brand-new refinery.

“The turnaround on maintenance is very massive and the job is being done day and night. All hands are on deck to make sure that they meet that target. By ending of July the refinery should be ready.”

When reminded of several promises by the government to kick start the project, Ukadike replied, “Yes, there have been delays but they didn’t tell us any reason for the delay of the last deadline given in April.

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“They are not facing any challenges at all; I can say the refinery is 99 per cent ready.

“What we want is competition. I am very sure that with the two refineries, the price of petrol will be reduced. Dangote is coming soon and the Port Harcourt refinery is almost ready too and that is very good. We need that competition for the benefit of the nation.”

The new timeline coincides with a proposal by the Dangote Refinery to commence petrol production by ending of next month (June).

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The Chairman of the Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, while speaking at the Africa CEO forum annual summit in Kigali, assured Nigerians that following the laid-down plans of the Dangote Refinery, Nigeria would no longer need to import petrol starting next month.

According to him, the refinery can meet West Africa’s petrol and diesel needs, as well as the continent’s aviation fuel demand.

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With an average monthly consumption of 1 billion litres, Nigeria currently spends approximately N520bn on the importation of PMS every month.

This means the government may cut approximately N6.2tn yearly import bill.

Commenting, the NNPCL Chief Corporate Communications Officer, Femi Soneye, said regulatory approvals from international bodies were the only impediment stalling the operational commencement of the refinery.

Soneye in an exclusive interview with our correspondent on Monday reiterated that mechanical completion had been achieved, and all pipes were operating flawlessly, transporting crude oil supplied by Shell.

He said, “We have said that the mechanical completion has been done and every other thing is done. There is crude oil and all the pipes are working; we are only waiting for regulatory approvals. Like I said, some of our materials and the things we use have to do with nuclear and we need the nuclear authorities to give us approval to use all those things at the site.

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“And some of these approvals come from bodies outside of Nigeria. Until they give us those approvals, we can’t begin operations. We are ready to go but if something happens without it, which would be another issue. Everything has been completed in terms of our work, and once we get those approvals, it will start operations.”

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