• Sunday, February 25, 2024
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BusinessDay

Five things to know to start your Thursday

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Agricultural commodity prices in Nigeria are expected to surge in 2024, with maize and paddy rice projected to rise by 25 percent and 40 percent, respectively, according to a report by AFEX.

This follows fluctuations in 2023, attributed to decreased input usage and the Russia-Ukraine crisis impacting fertiliser prices.

Globally, energy prices are expected to drop by 5 percent in 2024, while agriculture commodities are projected to decrease by 2 percent, contingent on the de-escalation of the Middle East conflict.

AFEX emphasises the need for sustainable farming practices and strategic measures to enhance domestic agricultural production.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is investigating $347 billion allocated to Nigerian companies from January 2014 to June 2023, with scrutiny extending to foreign firms.

Central Bank of Nigeria data reveals that local and foreign companies received the funds for foreign exchange needs.

The EFCC is particularly focusing on 52 companies, including Dangote Group, due to their significant share of the allocations.

A breakdown shows the industrial sector received the highest forex allocation, followed by financial services under the invisible category.

The investigation is part of a broader probe into forex allocations during the tenure of the former CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele.

The World Bank forecasts Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to grow by 3.3 percent in 2023 and 3.7 percent in 2025, up from the previous estimate of 2.9 percent.

The report credits the momentum to President Bola Tinubu’s reforms, including the removal of fuel subsidies and forex rate harmonisation, focusing on agriculture, construction, services, and trade.

The bank anticipates a gradual easing of inflation due to exchange rate reforms and fuel subsidy removal.

However, it notes that economic growth softened in 2023 due to disruptive currency demonetization policies.

The report urges reforms to address food insecurity, which surged by 133% from 2014 to 2022.

Nigeria experienced 46 collapses of its national power grid between 2017 and 2023, with increased blackouts in 2023, notably on September 14 due to a transmission line fire, according to the International Energy Agency.

The country faces recurring grid issues due to aged infrastructure and vandalism, leading to a 40 percent reliance on backup generators for electricity consumption.

Although Nigeria has a total installed capacity of 13 GW, the average available capacity was around 4.5 GW in 2023.

Natural gas accounts for 75 percent of electricity generation, and renewables are expected to grow, particularly solar PV.

Taiwan’s president-elect, Lai Ching-te, expressed his desire for continued strong U.S. support during a meeting with visiting U.S. lawmakers.

Lai emphasised the shared values of democracy and freedom, underscoring Taiwan’s strategic importance in countering China’s expansionism.

He pledged to uphold the cross-Taiwan Strait status quo for peace and stability and urged the U.S. to deepen cooperation, work with democratic partners, and support Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities.

China considers Taiwan a part of its territory and opposes Lai’s calls for talks.