News Roundup: FG to roll out 5G network, China Declares Cryptocurrency Transactions Illegal, Nigeria Sells $4bn Eurobond…

Nigerian Government to roll out 5G network by January 2022
The Federal Government has announced that the Five Generation (5G) network will be available in Nigeria by January 2022 in a bid to monitor public assets against vandalism. This was revealed on Thursday by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami. Ubale Maska, the Commissioner for Technical Services, who represented the Minister disclosed this information at a Town Hall Meeting that was organized by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture. The purpose of the meeting was to address vandalism of power and telecommunications infrastructure. 5G is the 5th generation mobile network, a successor to 1G, 2G, 3G and 4G networks. This global wireless technology is meant to deliver higher data speeds, more reliability, massive network capacity and increased availability. This long-awaited news is coming on the heels of a deployment approval of the 5G network by the Federal Government. The rollout of the network will make management of the 50,000 telecommunications sites nationwide easy. According to the Minister, the 16,000 mobile network outages between January to July 2021, across operators like MTN, Globacom, Airtel and 9Mobile were caused by fiber cuts, access denial and theft. He added that the protection of telecommunications facilities was important to the nation’s overall welfare.

Nigeria’s Agric export surges to highest on record
Nigeria’s agro-food export reached a record high of N165.27 billion in the second quarter of 2021, representing a 112% increase compared to N78.03 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2020.The recent value is also a 30% increase when compared to N127.18 billion worth of export recorded in the previous quarter (Q1 2021). It was previously reported that Nigeria’s foreign trade increased by 89% year-on-year to N12.03 trillion in Q2 2021. The report also highlighted that Nigeria continued with a foreign trade deficit of N1.87 trillion, having recorded an import value of N6.95 trillion as against an export value of N5.08 trillion. Nigeria is expanding its ability to earn foreign returns from agricultural export, especially now that oil is not giving as much revenue as it used to due to the OPEC production quota and oscillating crude oil prices. However, the local production is still not enough for local consumption, hence the need to export food items from other countries, which in turn affects Nigeria’s balance of trade and by extension the exchange rate.

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MTN Nigeria awaits approval to issue N90 billion Series 2 Bonds
Nigeria’s largest telecommunications company, MTN Nigeria is set to launch Series 2 Bonds valued at N90 billion but awaits regulatory approval from the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC). MTN Nigeria issued the first Series in May 2021, an issuance of N110 billion, 7-Year 13.0 percent Fixed Rate Bonds due 2028. The telco giant made the issue as part of its wider NGN 200 billion bond issuance programme. It is the first such issuance to be made by a telecoms company in Nigeria, and is the largest corporate bond issue in the debt capital market in 2021 to date. According to MTN, the final decision on the launch of the Series 2 bond will be taken once all regulatory approvals are obtained from the SEC, and the investing public will be duly notified.

China Declares Cryptocurrency Transactions Illegal, Sending Bitcoin Lower
China’s Central bank declared all virtual currency-related activities illegal, including derivative transactions and overseas virtual currency exchanges serving Chinese residents. Bitcoin fell by nearly $2,000 to $42,800 after the PBOC news hit the wires, erasing Thursday’s 3% gain. The cryptocurrency was trading 4% lower on the day at 9:32 UTC. China renewed its crackdown on cryptocurrency trading and mining in the second quarter amid pilot testing of digital yuan. However, according to China journalist Colin Wu, the latest central bank statement is quite detailed and mentions tether (USDT) as illegal for the first time. Tether, the largest stablecoin per market value, is widely used to fund crypto purchases and as collateral in decentralized finance.

Nigeria Sells $4bn Eurobond as Investors Oversubscribe Four Times
After an intensive two days of virtual meetings with investors across the globe, Nigeria has raised the sum of $4 billion through Eurobonds, with investors demanding more than four times the amount on offer. According to the statement issued by the Debt Management Office (DMO), the Order Book peaked at $12.2 billion which enabled the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) to raise $1 billion more than the $3 billion it initially announced. “This exceptional performance has been described as ‘one of the biggest financial trades to come out of Africa in 2021 and an excellent outcome”, said the DMO in a statement. “The size of the Order Book and the quality of investors demonstrate confidence in Nigeria”, the DMO said. Nigeria opened its order book for the bond offering on Tuesday, aiming to issue the bond next week, according to a notice to investors.

WHO recommends 1st preventive therapy
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has for the first time recommended a combination of drugs to prevent severe COVID-19 disease in infected high-risk patients. The WHO published its new recommendations in the British Medical Journal on Friday. The WHO referred to studies indicating a combination of casirivimab and imdevimab by the U.S. company Regeneron and the Swiss company Roche can improve patients’ chances of survival. WHO now recommends the administration of casirivimab and imdevimab for coronavirus patients with previous illnesses who run the risk of falling seriously ill with Covid-19 and face treatment in intensive care units.The WHO urged manufacturers and governments to address the high price and limited production of the Regeneron antibody combination. It also noted that negotiations are being held with Roche on matters to lower prices, possible donation and fair distribution around the world.

Vaccine passport wave grows as U.S. re-opens to int’l travelers
The United States (U.S.) will re-open to air passengers from China, India, Britain and many other European countries who have received COVID-19 vaccines in early November, the White House said Monday. This could well mark the beginning of roll back on what have been tough pandemic-related travel restrictions that started early last year. The White House plans to allow non-U.S. citizen travelers from countries who have been barred from the United States since early 2020 as it moves to the new requirements, White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said, according to Reuters. The U.S. restrictions were first imposed on travelers from China in January 2020 by then-President Donald Trump and then extended to other countries in the following months, without any clear metrics for how and when to lift them. President Joe Biden in April this year added new travel restrictions on India, barring most non-U.S. citizens from entering the United States. Biden also reversed plans by Trump in January to lift restrictions on European countries.

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