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All Set For HighPoint Event Centre Opening – Omolara Adebiyi (C.E.O)

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A new date has been fixed for the opening of the latest super event center in Lagos: HighPoint. With Thursday, February 3 2022 confirmed as the D-day, the opening of the HighPoint Event Center will be nothing but spectacularly grand.

The brains behind HighPoint, Mrs. Omolara Adebiyi intends to give the guests something to think and talk about as 2022 unfolds. Thus, with her status as HighPoint CEO, her colorful achievements will be matched with the colorful event in which her relatives, friends, business associates, and admirers can clink a glass or two in her honor.

Mrs. Omolara Adebiyi CEO HighPoint Event Centre

Lest the public assumes that HighPoint is like every other event center in Lagos, a trip to the heart-beat of Lagos, Alausa in Ikeja should wind down any such erroneous assumption. Omolara established HighPoint over an enormous stretch of land that is estimated at 10,000 square meters. Inside this superb piece of real estate are features that can send the mind into a trance. These include two fitly framed floors that can accommodate a total of 3,000 individuals, For the capacity, Banquet style is 1000, while theatre style is 2000.

HighPoint’s VIP lounge is something else that stretches the natural limits of the eye. The 18 single-bed rooms can only be described as Dubai-level luxurious. And how does one describe the 2-bedroom suites for lodging and accommodation or the 500-vehicle car park with its air-tight security? Indeed, HighPoint as a masterpiece is set to change the face of event centers in the city of aquatic splendor. It is a testament of class, pristine and exquisitely polished.

HighPoint Event Center

Really, the building emphasizes without much effort the sheer tastefulness of the owner. The attention to detail that characterizes the structure is excellent. Irrefutably, both the interior and exterior decor were carefully chosen and planned with flawless finesse.

All of these will be showcased to the event guests come the third of February. Naturally, the lucky guests are expected to delightedly help Omolara inaugurate the next-level edifice, laying the foundation for future copies from peers.

With the introduction of HighPoint, it is now clear that Omolara’s ceiling of vision and achievements is farther than the azure sky. She continues to distinguish herself as an industrious woman of substance, accomplished industrialist, and entrepreneur par excellence.

As a virtuous woman, Omolara will always find reasons to add more to her husband’s high-flying fortunes. She will continue to take great steps in this dimension, especially when her husband is widely acknowledged as being in the vanguard of great achievers and pioneers in Nigeria.

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BIG STORY

Nigeria Displaces Vietnam As No. 4 On World Bank’s IDA Borrowers’ List, Becomes No.1 In Africa

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Nigeria’s rising debt has moved the country up the World Bank’s top 10 International Development Association borrowers’ list.

The World Bank Fiscal Year 2021 audited financial statements, known as the IDA financial statement, showed that Nigeria was rated fifth on the list with $11.7bn IDA debt stock as of June 30, 2021.

However, the newly released World Bank Fiscal Year 2022 audited financial statements for IDA showed that Nigeria has moved to the fourth position on the list, with $13bn IDA debt stock as of June 30, 2022.

This shows that Nigeria accumulated about $1.3bn IDA debt within a fiscal year, with the country taking over the fourth top debtor position from Vietnam.

This debt is different from the outstanding loan of $486m from World Bank’s International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

The top five countries on the list slightly reduced their IDA debt stock except Nigeria.

India, which is still the first on the list reduced its IDA debt stock from $22bn in the previous fiscal year to $19.7bn, followed by Bangladesh from $18.1bn to $18bn.

It is followed by Pakistan which cut its debt from $16.4bn to $15.8bn, and lastly, Vietnam, which went down the list to fifth position, from $14.1bn to $12.9bn.

Nigeria has the highest IDA debt in Africa, as the top three IDA borrowers (India, Bangladesh and Pakistan) are from Asia. The World Bank disclosed recently that Nigeria’s debt, which may be considered sustainable for now, is vulnerable and costly.

The bank said, “Nigeria’s debt remains sustainable, albeit vulnerable and costly, especially due to large and growing financing from the Central Bank of Nigeria.”

However, the Washington-based global financial institution added that the country’s debt was also at risk of becoming unsustainable in the event of macro-fiscal shocks.

The bank further expressed concerns over the nation’s cost of debt servicing, which according to it, disrupted public investments and critical service delivery spending.

Economists have also raised concerns over the rising debt profile of the Federal Government.

The Fiscal Policy Partner and Africa Tax Leader of PwC, Mr Taiwo Oyedele, expressed his agreement with the World Bank on the high cost of debt servicing.

He said, “I agree with the World Bank. Although the debt to GDP ratio is not too high, if you think about the debt service cost to revenue ratio, it is already over 70 per cent. That’s when you know it’s costly.

“Nigeria borrows at double-digit, and even when we borrow in dollars, the rates are very high and then you devalue the naira and the cost of servicing the debt in naira goes up because it is dollar-dominated debt.

“Put all of that together, and you can easily say to yourself that even though our debt to GDP ratio is very low, our cost of borrowing is unsustainable because it is very high, and therefore, make it very costly.”

A former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and former presidential candidate, Kingsley Moghalu, also criticised the increasing borrowing tendency of the government, urging the officials to re-consider other ways of generating revenue for the country.

According to Moghalu, it was also not reasonable to borrow for infrastructural development as the government could expand the public-private partnership options for such development.

In a document by the Director General of the Debt Management Office, Patience Oniha, recently obtained by our correspondent, the DMO stated that high debt levels would often lead to high debt services and affect investments in infrastructure.

According to the DMO DG, “High debt levels lead to heavy debt service which reduces resources available for investment in infrastructure and key sectors of the economy.”

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BIG STORY

Nigeria’s National Grid Suffered 222 System Collapses In 12 Years – Report

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Nigeria’s electricity grid suffered 222 partial and total system collapses from January 2010 to June 2022.

According to Thisday, an analysis of industry data – mostly from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) – from January 2010 to September 2021 showed that the grid suffered 216 system collapses.

It added that information relating to the crashes was not officially available from September 2021 to June 2022.

The grid collapsed in February, May, July, and August 2021.

Last month, it experienced collapse for the seventh time in 2022.

Report had it that the grid experienced 206 collapses between 2010 and 2019.

It was gathered that a review of the data showed that in 2010, Nigeria experienced 42 total and partial crashes; 19 in 2011; 24 in 2012 and 2013, respectively; 13 in 2014; and 10 in 2015.

In 2016, the number of cases rose to 28; it came to 21 in 2017; 13 in 2018; 11 in 2019, and four in 2020.

“As a background, the national power grid, a network of electricity transmission lines connecting generating stations to loads across the entire country, is designed to operate within certain stability limits in terms of voltage (330kV+5 percent) and frequency (50Hz+5 percent). Whenever the grid operates out of these stability ranges, it becomes unstable; power quality decreases and leads to wide-scale supply disruptions, resulting in grid collapse and blackouts,” the report reads.

“While maintaining a stable grid frequency of 50Hz requires a sustained balance between the amount of electricity fed into the electricity grid and the amount of electricity off-taken by end-users since it is not economically optimal to store electricity in large quantities over a long period, the System Operator (SO) ensures that the frequency is sustained at all times within a tolerance threshold.

“When supply exceeds demand, the electrical frequency increases, and in extreme cases some power plants that are unable to tolerate excessive frequency variation may shut down, thereby causing a sudden drop in the available generation on the grid. This exacerbates the frequency imbalance, potentially leading to a full/partial system collapse.

“It is the same when demand exceeds supply and the frequency drops. Unless the SO immediately brings in additional supply or sheds off some load, it could lead to a complete collapse of the grid.”

To sustain the improvement in grid stability in subsequent years, NERC had assured that it would continue to intensify monitoring of strict compliance with the SO’s directives to generators on free governor and frequency control mode in line with the provisions of the subsisting operating codes in the industry.

The commission added that it was exploring options for the enforcement of an under-frequency load shedding scheme that had been put in place to provide an added layer of security for the grid in the case of a sudden loss of generation.

To reduce the rate of grid failures, the ministry of power said the federal government would fast-track the purchase and installation of a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system.

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BIG STORY

Air Fare To Rise Further, Nigeria To Lose Revenue Over Foreign Airlines’ Trapped Funds

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Over a month ago, Kamil Al Awadhi, vice-president for Africa and the Middle East, International Air Transport Association (IATA), converged with journalists in Doha, Qatar, at the 78th annual general meeting and world air transport summit.

Al Awadhi’s simple task was to intimate the press on the economic positioning of the global aviation sector and other key issues critical to the association’s goals.

Clearly stated: Foreign airlines are unable to repatriate about $450 million in earnings.

Al Awadhi said as of April, a total of $1.6 billion in funds were blocked by 20 countries worldwide — with 67 percent of it tied up in 12 African nations.

But the amount blocked in Nigeria, a country currently dealing with a shortfall of foreign exchange (FX) and a dwindling reserve, is the highest in Africa.

“Nigeria alone is holding back $450 million. It is the most amount blocked by any single African country, and the amount is rising every week,” Al Awadhi had complained.

“Cash flow is key for airlines’ business sustainability — when airlines are unable to repatriate their funds, it severely impedes their operations and limits the number of markets they can serve.

More frustrating for Al Awadhi was that attempts to recover the funds have hit walls tremendously.

In fact, talks with Nigerian officials to release the funds have been a “hectic ride”, Al Awadhi said.

He warned that the position of the authorities could lead to reduced air connectivity and maybe, make Nigeria distasteful to investors.

“The consequences of reduced air connectivity include the erosion of that country’s competitiveness, diminished investor confidence, and reputational harm caused by a perception that it is a high-risk place to do business,” he added.

Barely a month after the air transport summit ended, Al Awadhi’s predictions of some consequences are already manifesting and making a scapegoat out of travellers and travel agents.

On August 15, Emirates Airlines, the flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), said it would reduce flight operations to Nigeria over the inability to repatriate about $85 million in revenue.

“We have had no choice but to take this action, to mitigate the continued losses Emirates is experiencing as a result of funds being blocked in Nigeria,” the airline said in a recent statement.

“As of July 2022, Emirates has US$85 million of funds awaiting repatriation from Nigeria. This figure has been rising by more than $US 10 million every month, as the ongoing operational costs of our 11 weekly flights to Lagos and 5 to Abuja continue to accumulate.”

A travel agent at the Muritala Muhammad International Airport in Lagos told TheCable that the news of the federal government’s refusal to allow access to the sum is leading to increasing restrictions imposed by airlines on tickets out of Nigeria.

He said routes originating from outside Nigeria, such as Aberdeen to Lagos or New York to Abuja, could experience restrictions.

“Several airlines no longer allow Nigerian agents to issue such tickets, so we may be restricted in the range of airlines we can offer… we believe that restrictions will be in place for some time to come,” he said.

RESTRICTIONS ON BOOKING CLASS (INVENTORY)

The source also said there are now booking class restrictions, explaining some airlines have “dramatically restricted which classes can be sold to enable them to collect more naira per seat to offset their currency exchange woes.”

Confirming the development, Susan Akporiaye, president of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), said the restrictions, mainly on the type of tickets sold, affect travel agencies.

“We can longer sell tickets that the point of origin is not Nigeria — UK or USA to Nigeria return — for example,” she said.

“We cannot sell the cheap tickets for some airlines as it has been taken out of the system. We cannot sell tickets that does (sic) not touch Nigeria, for example, London to Washington back to London.”

Akporiaye told TheCable that some airlines have removed lower inventories from the system. This means that in the economy cabin, for instance, prices ranging from N500, 000 downward have been removed, leaving Nigerians with the “highest inventory [which] is about N1.8milion”.

According to her, airlines have stopped selling the lower inventories because they make losses from them if they have to go to the parallel market to get dollars to fund operations.

“The higher inventory is what would make them to be able to break even and still have a little spread to be able to pay their staffs,” Akporiaye said.

TRAVELLERS SPEND MORE

The combined action of restricted tickets and booking classes put pressure on travellers’ budgets. Several agents said they are only left with the highest ticket fare in a cabin as the lower ones have been yanked off.

In addition, given that people would still want to travel to any part of the world, travel agents in Nigeria would have to source such tickets from colleagues outside Nigeria on behalf of customers.

The development makes the tickets more expensive since they are domiciled in dollars or the currency of that market.

Weighing in on the matter, Sindy Foster, principal managing partner, Avaero Capital Partners, said the situation is seriously impacting everyone involved: the foreign airlines, travel agents, and passengers.

Foster argues that removing cheaper tickets from airlines’ inventories has triggered paltry sales for agents and compels people to change their travel plans.

“A lot of people have been forced to travel indirect routes as those are cheaper and to downgrade from premium classes to the economy,” Foster said.

NIGERIA LOSING OUT ON REVENUE

But the country itself is not shielded from the boomeranging effect of declining the repatriation of funds. With travel agencies buying tickets from other markets for their clients, Nigeria is, therefore, losing revenue from ticket sales.

“The revenue for us as a travel agency will not also come to us. It will go to our other colleagues in other parts of the world, doing those tickets for us. You know airlines still pay local tax to the Nigerian government,” Akporiaye explained.

“If they’re supposed to pay tax on one million tickets in a month, because of this restriction, they’ll probably pay only on 500,000. So, the government has lost income from 500,000 tickets. So, it’s a loss to the Nigerian government.”

For Foster, it does not bode well for the country as it comes at a time Nigeria is seeking foreign investment, especially in the aviation sector.
“It sends the wrong signals,” she said.

VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENT

The bilateral aviation safety agreement (BASA) is an air transport agreement between two countries that allows designated airlines to operate commercial flights, covering the transportation of passengers and cargoes.

In October 2019, when Nigeria signed one of such agreements with India, the number of BASAs the country is a signatory hit 92.

The BASA, among other provisions, allows airlines to repatriate their earnings to their countries.

Article 15 of this agreement, titled ‘Transfer of earnings’, states that; “each designated airline shall have the right to its country on-demand local revenues in excess of sums locally disbursed. Conversion and remittance shall be permitted without delay in accordance with the prevailing exchange regulations”.

According to aviation experts, the government is violating the BASA agreements by not allowing airlines access to the funds.

“Part of the BASA agreement is they should be allowed to repatriate their funds to their own country. And it’s not being done right now. So, it’s a violation,” Akporiaye said.

Akporiaye, however, noted that it is not an intentional violation as the situation is said to be caused by the shortage of FX.

“That’s why nobody is suing Nigeria for that,” she added.

Acknowledging the provisions of the agreement vis-à-vis repatriation, Foster noted that while the existence of BASA makes airlines entitled; if the country has no forex to cover the entitlement, there is nothing the airlines can do “other than adjust their operations to take that into account.”

Speaking to TheCable via text messages, Sam Adurogboye, spokesperson, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), pleaded with the government to help the airlines repatriate the funds.

“We can only plead with FG and CBN to assist them to repatriate their funds,” he said.

The federal ministry of finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) did not respond to requests for comment on the matter.

Credit: The Cable

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