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Lagos Blue Line rail project may not be ready until 2022

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Indications have emerged that the Lagos Blue Line rail project may not be ready until 2022.

Following a comprehensive review of the rail project, which ought to have commenced passenger operation but had been hindered by unforeseen third party issues and other challenges, the State Government said the Marina to Mile 2 section of the project known as the Blue Line Rail, would now be ready for passenger operation by 2022.

Details of this development form part of the revelations made at the signing of a major agreement between the Lagos State government and Alstom SA of France on the Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) project. The exercise is a renewed effort to rev up the multi-modal transport system in the State.

Officials of the State government had noted that consultants it engaged to carry out a technical review and due diligence on the implementation of the project, which substantially had focused on civil works, and reported back to government that operation of the first phase may only commence in 2022.

Speaking at the signing of the agreement with Alstom SA, Managing Director of Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), Mr. Abiodun Dabiri, who signed on behalf of the State Government, said the partnership was the result of the commitment of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode towards the transformation of public transportation in the State.

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According to him, “Based on the final report submitted, the consortium of Alstom Transport SA France has been engaged for the procurement, engineering, construction, installation of Operation & Maintenance (O&M) moveable infrastructure and commissioning of railway systems towards the commencement of passenger operations for LRMT Blue Line project from Marina to Mile 2.”

“For this purpose, a track length of about 3.0 km from Iganmu Station to National Theatre will be electrified. This operation would be done with the rolling stocks already supplied for the Blue Line project.

“This phase would allow the completion of all the preliminary works that would lead to the financing of the main works in Phase two. Phase one will be fully financed by Lagos State Government through Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).

“Phase two, which is expected to be completed in 39 months, would entail the provision and installation of railway operations’ systems for the project from Marina to Mile 2 and the delivery of a passenger-ready Lagos Blue Rail Line by 2022,” he said.

Responding, Mr. Guy Jean-Pierre, a Director of Alstom SA, thanked the State Government for the confidence reposed in the firm and the opportunity given to partner with the State on the Blue Line Rail project.

He assured that Alstom would work to ensure the delivery of the Blue Line to passenger operation by bringing on board required expertise and experience in rail system management.

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Nigeria’s central bank bans govts, banks, others from owning Bureaus de Change amid FX crisis

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Governments, commercial banks, merchant banks, other financial institutions (OFIs) and public officials are among the groups that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has prohibited from directly or indirectly owning Bureaus de Change (BDCs) amidst the country’s growing shortage of foreign exchange.

This was made public by CBN today in its Guidelines for the Management of BDCs in Nigeria. The apex bank stated that without permission, no one was allowed to conduct BDC activity in Nigeria.

The guidelines’ Section 2.0 stated: ”The following shall not be allowed to participate in the ownership of BDCs, directly or indirectly: Commercial, merchant, non-interest and payment service banks, OFIs, including holding companies and payment service providers, serving staff of financial services regulatory and supervisory agencies;

“Serving staff of regulated financial services providers, Governments at all levels, and public officers as defined in 5th Schedule Part IV of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;

“Non-Governmental organizations, cooperative societies, charitable organizations, academic and religious institutions, non-Nigerian non-resident natural persons, non-Nigerian resident natural persons, non-resident non-regulated companies, telecommunication services providers;

“Sanctioned individuals and entities, a shareholder in another BDC (whether directly or indirectly), or any other entity that the CBN may from time to time designate.”

The largest economy in Africa has matured foreign exchange forwards worth over $7 billion, which, despite the CBN’s assurances that the backlog will be cleared, is a major source of concern for investors as the naira continues to decline owing to currency shortages.

Approximately $2.5 billion of the backlog in sectors such as manufacturing, aviation, and petroleum has been fully paid.

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IMF sees progress on the Egypt credit programme despite Gaza’s pressure

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has reported that talks to expand Egypt’s loan programme are going well.

The IMF stated that Egypt needed a “very comprehensive support package” to deal with its economic problems, which include pressure from the Gaza conflict.

The principal programme revisions under the combined first and second reviews of Egypt’s current $3 billion loan were agreed upon by IMF staff and Egyptian authorities, according to IMF spokesperson Julie Kozack at a routine news conference.

She also stated that “authorities have expressed a strong commitment” to these reforms and declined to discuss details of the Egypt package as the negotiations are continuing.

Kozack while responding to questions on the impact on the talks of challenges posed by the expected entry of Gaza refugees into Egypt, said, “There is a need to have a very comprehensive support package for Egypt, and we’re working very closely with both the Egyptian authorities and their partners to ensure that Egypt does not have any residual financing needs and also to ensure that the programme is able to ensure macroeconomic and financial stability in Egypt.”

The IMF later clarified in a statement that the comprehensive policy package would “support the economic reform programme” in Egypt.

Due to the effects of the Israel-Hamas conflict, the IMF revised down its GDP growth estimate for the Middle East and North Africa and opened a new tab for 2024, which is 2.9%, down 0.5 percentage points from October. Egypt’s projected 3.0% growth rate in 2024 was downgraded by 0.6 percentage points.

According to Kozack, the IMF is still keeping an eye on the financial effects of the attacks on the Red Sea and Suez Canal, which are causing trade flows to reroute around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa and increase the duration and expense of Europe-Asia travel.

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