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Cement Price Woes Persist Despite Government Efforts

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In recent weeks, the federal government has been attempting to negotiate an agreement to address the persistent rise in cement prices. However, manufacturers have continued to defy government directives and agreements, maintaining prices well above the agreed range of N7,000 to N8,000 per 50kg bag. Leading brands such as Dangote, BUA, Lafarge, and Ibeto are still selling at an average price of N11,000 per bag, despite warnings of potential border openings for product imports.

The ongoing high prices have drawn concern from experts and stakeholders in the real estate sector, who view them as unsustainable, unrealistic, and detrimental to investment. This situation impacts developers, property owners, and other end-users connected to the real estate industry.

Experts attribute the price hike to the monopoly held by a few cement manufacturers. They argue that breaking this monopoly is essential to curbing further price increases. Adeniji Adele, former president of the International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI)-Nigeria, suggests that granting operational licenses to more manufacturers could increase supply and meet the rising demand from real estate developers, highway contractors, and bridge builders.

Meanwhile, the Cement Producers Association of Nigeria (CPAN) has called on the President to collaborate with the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment, as well as the Ministry of Finance, to break the monopoly in the cement industry. They advocate for expanding opportunities for participation by individuals with verifiable local investments in cement and related interests, according to David Iweta, the Association Chairman.

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IMF Predicts 26.3% Drop in Nigeria’s Inflation by 2024

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has forecasted a significant drop in Nigeria’s inflation rate to 26.3% by 2024. This projection was part of the IMF’s revised Global Economic Outlook released earlier this week, which also predicted a 3.3% growth for Nigeria’s economy this year.

In its report, the IMF maintained the growth prospects for Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) in 2024, with a slight upgrade attributed to Nigeria’s improved growth outlook, offsetting downward forecasts for other countries like Angola.

According to the IMF, Nigeria’s economy is expected to grow by 3.0% in 2025, a slight decline from its previous projection. The SSA region as a whole is forecasted to experience growth of 3.8% in 2024 and 4.0% in 2025, driven by the gradual improvement in supply issues and the easing of earlier weather shocks.

Additionally, the IMF noted a slight uptick in growth for advanced economies, with projections increasing from 1.6% in 2023 to 1.7% in 2024, and further to 1.8% in 2025.

However, Nigeria has been grappling with persistent inflationary pressures throughout the year. The country’s inflation rate rose from 29.90% in January to 33.2% in March, posing challenges to its economic stability despite the IMF’s optimistic long-term forecast.

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Volkswagen Invests $210 Million in South African Plant

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Volkswagen Group plans to inject $210 million into its South African manufacturing plant in anticipation of launching a new SUV brand by 2027. The investment aims to upgrade various facilities within the Eastern Cape-based plant to accommodate the production of a third model.

Martina Biene, managing director of the group’s Africa branch, emphasized aligning company objectives with the current automotive market landscape in Africa. He highlighted the ongoing demand for vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICEs) in the region despite the global shift towards electric vehicles.

The first phase of upgrades to the Volkswagen plant, known as the Kariega Plant, is set to commence by the end of 2024 during a scheduled plant shutdown. The development of the new SUV will be led by Volkswagen Brazil, with input from the Africa engineering team to adapt the vehicle to local requirements such as right-hand driving.

While the specific name of the new SUV remains undisclosed, Biene indicated that it would be marketed in African countries where Volkswagen has a presence. Additionally, Volkswagen plans to introduce its ID.4 test fleet in South Africa and Rwanda as part of its broader strategic initiatives.

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e-Payment Transactions Hit all-time High of N234.4trn in First Quarter 2024

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Electronic payment machines are becoming increasingly popular in Nigeria by 2024.

With the recently resolved cash scarcity issue, Nigerians have adapted to the use of POS for cash payments and withdrawals. This transaction increased to N234.4 trillion in the first quarter (Q1) of 2024 as more Nigerians went cashless during the period.

The Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) reported an 89% increase in the value of Instant Payment (NIP) to N234.4 trillion from N123.9 trillion in Q1 2023.

From the beginning of this year to March, there has been a steady rise in the amount of payment transactions carried out via various banks and fintech electronic channels in the country

Though the NIP transaction value rose to N72.1 trillion in January from N71.9 trillion recorded in December 2023, the value of electronic payments increased further to N79.3 trillion in February and by March, the value of electronic transactions in the country had surged to an all-time high of N83 trillion.

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